Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yataimura Maru by Shigezo

3812 NE Division Street
Happy Hour: Weekdays from 4 - 6 and 9 - 10 (11 on Friday),
Weekends from 11:30 - 6 and 9 - 10 (11 on Saturday)

The menu is long, the hours are extended, and the discount is more than decent during happy hour at Yataimura Maru on SE Division. This place was recommended to me by a coworker on Saturday afternoon and--after learning of all they have to offer--I was there before the sun set. I'm so glad that I added it to my must-go-there-now list. It is definitely the kind of place that is worth a second visit. And a third. And a fourth. It will be so easy to make this a meal...as long as I remember to avoid that small window of time when the discounts don't apply.

We sat at the far end of the sushi bar, giving us the opportunity to watch some of the cooking and prep work take place. I love knowing what's going on in the kitchen and often feel a bit mesmerized by it all. Thankfully, most recognize my love of cooking, eating, and all things food and do not take offense when I spend the majority of my meal occupied by the "show" that is the kitchen.

After much internal debate, I ordered the Ginger Yuzu Drop. There were so many ME drinks on the menu, it made it hard to pick the right one. This one is made with Ketel One Citroen, Ginger liqueur and Yuzu juice. After a little research, I now know that Yuzu juice is just a citrus fruit juice and nothing to be alarmed about.

Although I could have ordered so much more, I narrowed my final selection down to just three items. The Zucchini Skewers ($1.50), Veggie Sushi Cut Rolls ($3.50), and the Hot Fried Tofu ($3) were delivered to the table as they were ready. That, of course, meant that everything was fresh and delicious but also a teensy bit dangerous for those of us too impatient to wait as things cool.

Simple as they may have been, the Zucchini Skewers were my favorite item. I even pondered the idea of ordering a second plate as I waited for a friend to finish the steaming bowl of Tokyo Ramen. I will definitely continue my way down the list of vegetable skewers available next time I am there. And--depending on who I am with--will recommend that they do the same with the meat and seafood options.

Fried Tofu is always fried and always tofu, but never seems to be the same wherever I order it. The consistency of the tofu differs, as does the sauce. At Maru, the tofu is a large cut and is served in a warmed broth. Despite how difficult these were to eat--and the fact that my impatience led me to burn the tip of my tongue--I loved every bite.

The Veggie Rolls were not the last to the table, but were saved--or, at least one was--for the last bite. For years, I limited my sushi intake to only the basics. Cucumber, avocado, maybe asparagus. I still only eat vegetables, but I'm less hesitant to try new combinations. This veggie roll wasn't over-the-top fancy, but the mix of veggies was impressive.

Attempting to order take out food off a happy hour menu is frowned upon in almost every establishment I've visited, but at Maru they do give you the option to take home some of their delicious house-made ramen noodles. They are priced to sell and apparently freeze well. Pictured above are those house-made noodles in the Tokyo Ramen--a dish made with Chashu Pork, mushrooms, and green onions and served in a veggie and chicken broth with seasoned soy sauce.

I do my best to try new places when I'm out during typical happy hour times, but with the extended hours at Maru it's going to be easy to return very soon. Maybe for lunch. Maybe next weekend.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Exceeds


Yataimura Maru by Shigezo on Urbanspoon

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