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Man Maru.....

A Japanese with Flair!

Yes, it also offers many Korean dishes but it is still essentially a Japanese restaurant. Outside, beside the entrance through a traditional Japanese garden, is a small roadside bale. Inside in the air-conditioned comfort you can either sit on floor cushions that would normally require a yoga drilled posture [but here they have a well in the floor so you are just sitting on the floor although without any back rest], or at normal wooden tables and enjoy your meal without a backache.

Through the glass window box are fake pink cherry blossoms, tacky you may think but actually it seems right for the place, it is very Japanese, along with all the bamboo stalks. The staff of course are local, the lady chef a lucky find in Jakarta where she has been running Japanese restaurants for many years.

The menu, apart from being a mix of Korean and Japanese, is unusual to me as not many of the Japanese dishes you see regularly in western countries are here, in their place many mysteries. Exploring those mysteries is fun, particularly when just about everything tastes great!

Sure there are many Sushi and Sashimi options with the usual set options. You can order 15 pieces of different Sashimi for Rp.75,000, good for 2-3 persons, or a similar sized Sushi set for Rp.170,000, or you can order specific items. And yes, there are a couple of Tempura and Teriyaki dishes but that is where old familiarities disappear.

Korean options begin with Chge-Nabe, the famous Korean Steamboat, a mix of pork, tofu and vegetables you cook yourself with a spicy broth. Maguro-yukke is raw tuna and egg mixed together with a spicy Korean sauce. Renkon-Teriyaki is slightly spicy slices of the lotus bulb, an unusual and wonderful taste! Everybody knows Korean Kim-Chee [that chilli cabbage], but here there are different options; with Chijimi it is mixed into a pancake with soy, whilst Buta-Kimchee has it tossed with pork and stir-fried. Buta-Shouga is pork shavings stir-fried in sake, soy, ginger and sesame oil/seeds. Tasty!

The best concept here is to order a large variety of dishes [they area all entrée size] and share for a wild and varied taste sensation, mixing the Korean ones [normally fiery with chilli but here they are quite subdued] with the usually sweet and soy-based Japanese options. Eat with rice of course, or with Yaki-Onigiri, grilled rice balls dipped in soy.

Vegetarian options abound, and even if you are a meat freak add a few dishes into your spread to further vary the tastes. Eda-Mame, just boiled soy beans, the Japanese love them and what could be healthier? Potato Salad is in unusually mashed form mixed with mayonnaise. Agedashi-Dofu is deep-fried tofu and Japanese radish with soy, Dashimaki is an Egg Roll, a roll of many layers of super thin omelette. Kinpira-Gobou is a variety of vegetable roots and carrot, Asupara-Goma is boiled asparagus with sesame sauce, as simple as it sounds, perfect cold spears with that pleasant sesame flavour. Okon-Miyaki is a Japanese pancake with tonkatsu sauce and mayonnaise. Chikuwa-Ten combines fried fermented soy beans with chikuwa [a Japanese food product, it is tube-like and made from ingredients like fish surimi, salt, sugar, starch, and egg white. After mixing them well, they are wrapped around a bamboo or metal stick and steamed or broiled, then cross-sliced looking like calamari rings].

There are many seafood dishes, most using small fish. Tako-Itame is fried octopus with mushrooms, Asari Butter Shoya steamed clams with a butter and soy sauce, Ika Fly a whole squid, the different parts prepared separately. Sanma is a salted grilled Saury fish. Yaki-Nasubi is grilled eggplant topped with dried tuna flakes. Jyako, dried small fish an mashed Japanese radish with that ever-present soy. Yaki-Mesgi an unusual fried rice lettuce combined with small fish. Kaki-Fly are deep-fried oysters, the biggest I have ever seen, a tartar dipping sauce

There is just one Tempura option, a mix of Vegetables and Prawns in that light rice batter. Their Chicken Teriyaki is one of the best, slices of tender and juicy chicken breast liberally soaked in that sweet soy and mirin mix. Japanese Croquettes are large balls of beef and mashed potato, crumbed and deep-fried, with a sticky tangy sauce.

No Japanese menu would be complete without a range of Noodle [Udon and Soba] and Rice [Don] dishes, particularly for the lone diner, or a group who do not wish to share the normal Japanese feast [even in a Western restaurant a Japanese couple will often order 4-5 dishes to share, much to the amazement of the local Balinese staff].

Some noodle dishes are served cold [Tempura of Tofu and Ten Zaru a cold soy soup], but most are hot. Tsukimi combines either Udon or Soba noodles with egg and leek, Yaki is fried Soba noodles with vegetables and tonkatsu sauce.

Katsu-Don sees slices of pork in sweet soy topping a bowl of rice, Oyako-Don is chicken and egg, omelette style, on top of the rice. Ten-Don is a topping of Tempura Prawns and Vegetables.

Desserts are very unusual. Try Daigaku-Imo, fried sweet potato in a sweet soy sauce, or the more western Pancakes, a pile of them accompanied by butter and honey.

You should really drink Sake and complete the full experience. I like mine hot, leave it in the serving flask and only pour each thimbleful when ready to down the lot in one swallow, it is not a sipping drink! The slow burn warms your stomach, and the ensuing relaxed mood works its way back up!

Man Maru is something totally different for Ubud and Bali. A classy small restaurant, with a bit of style and flair!

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QUICK REVIEW
Man Maru
Address:
Jln. Raya Sanggingan,
Sanggingan, Ubud.
Phone:
972.519
Open:
10.00 a.m. to 12.00 midnight, daily.
Bookings:
Advisable
Parking:
Street only
Price:
Rp. 300,000 for two [+ drinks]
Credit Cards:
- JCB
- Mastercard
- Visa
Food:
Japanese/Korean
Wine:
Various Sake
Service:
Always smiling!
Atmosphere:
Cherry Blossoms.
Overall:
Cool, clean and tasty!
Last Reviewed:
November 2007
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