Maruya’s head chef, Junichi Yamano, focuses all of his attentions on colourful and indulgent dishes, brought to life with distinctive, if sometimes a little safe, flavour combinations that often cross the boundaries between eastern and western cuisine. You’ll find all the Japanese staples accounted for, but some have been reworked with the restaurant’s primarily French clientele in mind. With international cuisines that rely more heavily on chillies and spice – for example Korean or Mexican – this could be a problem, as the average French palette just doesn’t seem accustomed to anything more than a pinch of Espelette pepper, but the subtle hints of French flavour and colourful flare that Maruya has worked into its menu makes for a delicious take on traditional Japanese cuisine.
Don’t be put off by these slight additions though, because the fundamentals of Japanese cooking are delicious and very well represented: beautiful rolls of sushi come packed with tuna, salmon and eel, lightly fried in tempura and topped with pickled ginger and a colourful helping of plucked-from-the-earth-fresh greens, while the Agedashi Tofu is smothered in a bowlful of delicious, freshly prepared dashi which is flavoured with salted plum sauce, daikon and ginger for a delicious dose of pure umami. A French, or perhaps European-inspired sushi roll comes in the form of the Rossini Maki which is a slather of pan fried liver, rolled up with beef tataki, while a more traditional option is the delightful Spider Roll, a California roll that’s filled with crab and lightly fried.
Maruya only has two mains (check the set menus for the menu du jour/ moix for more), a grilled salmon steak with a side of namasu salad and one of my absolute favourite dishes in Bordeaux, and something of a guilty pleasure, Maruya’s delicious take on beef teriyaki. The beef teriyaki is a chunk of well seared, thinly sliced, medium rare beef fillet that is coated in lashings of mushroom flavoured teriyaki sauce and served with a side of delicious kakiage tempura – with an egg based batter that lends the tempura an even more indulgent consistency. The beef is always perfectly cooked, tender, soft and buttery in texture, rare in the middle and surrounded by thick contours of juicy pink meat, while the teriyaki provides a thick and salty outer layer that forms a slick layer of flavour.
The drinks list is decent but not exemplary, with a few decent bottles of sake such as the Sake Junmai Daijinjo, a good selection of Japanese Whiskies, Sochus and Beers and of course a fit-for-purpose wine list that always has a few local bottles for those wanting to stick to the region. Last time, we had a Bourgogne Pinot Noir which was medium bodied and silky, and paired well with the teriyaki beef and the heavier umami flavours.
You’ll find Maruya at number 1 on the small Rue Fénelon in the Grands Hommes quarter of Bordeaux, just a few minutes from the Grand Theatre and a moment from the Marche des Grands Hommes.