Maru Japanese Bistro
Maru Japanese Bistro is a restaurant serving fresh sashimi, charcoal-grilled veggies and dishes that combine Japanese and French styles of cooking.
Taking over the former home of The Green Wood in Leslieville, Chef Joseph Kang and his wife Grace Lee have turned the below-ground restaurant into a lovely space for pressed sushi and sake. Kang, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, brings a French influence to Maru's menu by way of dishes like duck with kabocha squash puree and sous vide cooking.
To start the meal, a bowl of $3.50 miso soup, one of the best I've had, is warming and not-too salty.
There's no added MSG to the broth, which takes over a day to make, using miso from Japan and kombu dashi. It makes a memorable mark on the meal for such a a small bowl of soup.
The addition of king mushroom grilled over black charcoal is a treat. Kang and Lee are fond of mushrooms, so expect them to make multiple appearances on the menu, depending on the season.
Delicately fried tempura ($11) is an assortment of fun seasonal veggies: yams, okra, asparagus, cauliflower, and crunchy clusters of shimeiji mushrooms. It hardly feels like fried food, I could eat two bowls.
The cauliflower steak is a plate with multiple textures, combining miso sauce with a side of charcoal-grilled eggplant, pan-roasted cauliflower, agedashi tofu, gruyere cheese and a yuzu hollandaise crispy rice.
From the signature roll menu, the Toronto roll ($20) is a mouthful.
Short rib is sous vide for 72 hours, combined with king oyster mushrooms, asparagus, parsnip chips, and teriyaki squeeze bottles for a chunky bite.
A medium sushi platter ($60) includes bluefin tuna, Atlantic salmon, squid mixed with masago, and scallop from Japan.
A small platter is $40, and $86 for a large.
Maru Bistro also has a list of sake and eager staff who'll gladly take you through the fruity infusions and junmai available.