2931 16th St (Near South Van Ness)
San Francisco, CA 94103
Why did we dine here? – Maruya had gotten written up in a local San Francisco magazine and was creating a lot of buzz. Was this going to be the new top Japanese restaurant in the city? Located in the trendy SF Mission district, was Maruya better than Akiko’s, Kiss or Ino? We would soon see. This restaurant has lots of exposed wood, from the planks on the front window to the walls and floors. The air was heavily scented with cooked fish, they should improve the circulation. San Francisco is still slowly catching up to top Japanese food outpost like LA or NYC. Guess we just don’t have to population to justify tier one restaurants.
Masaki Sasaki, Chef-Owner was once the Executive Sushi Chef at the Blue Fin Restaurant in New York City. He is focused on blending modern tastes with traditional Japanese techniques. This food is Tokyo style Edo Mai. Edo mai means ‘in front of Tokyo Bay’ – they use fish freshly caught from the bay.
Insider Tip – Make reservations even for the sushi bar, the place is small. The sushi bar seats are not on Opentable. Try the Omakase. Tues/Friday are when they get fresh fish from Japan.
Cuisine – Japanese
Location – Mission District, San Francisco
Opened – 2013
Service – Maruya had very good service with a server coming by to check on us every so often. Pacing was good as was ordering advice.
Verdict – Maruya met our high expectations. The food was inventive and unique from other spots in SF. The ingredients were pristine.
Having experienced the Omakase once, next time we’ll opt for the Sashimi moriawase or Sushi moriawase. Their fish and technique is top notch. If you like this restaurant, be sure and try Wakuriya in San Mateo.
Maruya Signature Dishes – Omakase with sashimi or Sushi.
Maruya’s Menu features an Omakase $85 plus a more expensve AQ option that keeps the sushi coming till you are DONE. A la carte available with most pieces from $4 to $14. Fish changes daily, some are from Japan, others are local.
Maruya Food Picks:
Hot Sake ($8) for a huge metal pitcher, made for a great value. They even bring out a bunch of cups for you to select from.
Amuse of Sunomono – Shishito Peppers with Bonito Shavings
Masa’s course ($85)
Santen mori – 3 starters – Uni (Sea Urchin) on top of steamed house made tofu, Seared Tuna and Radish pops, and mountain peach-berry/chestnut/gingko berries, egg gelcube. This was a unique start to our adventure. Three different items with totally different flavor profiles.
zensai – warm skinless yellow tomato poached in dashi. Strong pure tomato flavor.
sashimi – three types of fish. Kanpachi from Japan, Fluke, and Hon Maguro. Very fresh, cut just right, some of the best Kanpachi we’ve had.
Nigiri – consisted of 8 different types, arriving 2 at a time. King Salmon and Fluke
Isaki and Tuna. Very good, lower quality than the sashimi, but still fatty and smooth.
Clams and Maine Uni – Very liberal with the uni. Massive Thick clams.
Aji and ocean trout – Salmon like fish and a touch fishy trout
yakimono – Two pieces of Grilled thai snapper with a pickled ginger root.
owan – Agedashi miso soup with clams was the last dish. A nice warm soup to cleanse the fish down.
Yuzu Lemonade with a bit of fizz, rounded out the meal. Walk a couple blocks to Bi-Rite if you need some real sweets.
A la carte Nigiri:
They reminded us that you should not dip these pieces in soy sauce, they come the way the chef intends. With true Sushi, its all about the rice, not the topping.
Mirugai ($8) Geoduck clam had an intense wasabi hit then some thick, extremely chewy geoduck.
Uni from Maine ($8) was the cheapest option. We probably should have tried the Japanese uni though. Still smooth and silky, this sea urchin was not as good as some we had in Seattle last year.
Lobster ($7) Huge liberal piece made it our favorite of the 5. Fresh sweet lobster meat. Yum.
Surume Ika ($5) Squid was also a thick slab of very chewy fresh meat.
Ankimo ($6) monkfish liver was a large piece that looked like foie. Rich and flavorful.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar Japanese restaurants that are better?