Openings

What You'll Be Eating and Drinking at Maru

By Lesley Balla  |  November 4, 2015
Credit: Ryan Tanaka

Chef Jason Park has been running a restaurant called Maru for years. First in Valencia, where he made a name for himself with seasonal, French-California cuisine with Japanese influences, plus traditional sushi. He closed that location in 2012 and started running Maru pop-ups at the old Sasabune sushi space in Santa Monica, a sort of a placeholder for his latest version of the restaurant, which is now open. With cathedral ceilings, warm woods and slate grays, Maru has the zen-chic, minimalist decor of a contemporary Japanese restaurant. There's a sushi bar for chef Itsuroku Kimura to work omakase magic, a cocktail bar for Matthew Biancaniello to create his garden-inspired concoctions, and lots of banquettes along the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Park, who once worked at Campanile, staged in Osaka, and designed small desserts at Ramekin in Los Feliz, has once again turned his main focus to seasonal ingredients he picks up at the local farmers markets alongside top-grade, sustainable seafood and meats from around the globe. While there is a full sushi menu, with things like spiny lobster, jellyfish, sea bream and other Japanese nigiri specialties, Park's array of sandwiches and salads at lunch, and small and larger composed plates at dinner, are center stage. Take a peek at some of the dishes and drinks below. Maru opens for lunch Tuesday through Friday from noon to 2:30 PM, and for dinner daily at 6 PM. The bar, featuring beer, wine, sake and Biancaniello's "Eat Your Drink" cocktails, stays open until 11 PM during the week and midnight on the weekends.

12400 Wilshire Blvd.; 310-820-7240

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  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Park shows a light touch with his hericot vert salad with grilled shrimp, Asian pear, carrots, sesame and micro cilantro. You'll also see things like sword lettuce salad with a runny egg, prosciutto de parma and Asian green goddess dressing; roasted beets with raw cheddar and sherry vinaigrette; and roasted broccoli and cauliflower with Japanese curry vinaigrette.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    He grills local seabass and serves it with cranberry beans, pickled vegetables and arugula.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    You might see braised short ribs in puff pastry, or this lamb loin with crispy shiitake, rice, marinated onion and Japanese curry.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    For steaks, there's rib-eye with fingerling potatoes, creme fresh and tempura buna shimeji mushrooms. 

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Biancaniello is known for serving cocktails with seasonal ingredients plucked right from the markets (or his own backyard), interesting infusions and artisanal spirits, which goes hand in hand with Park's menu. This is the Pomerosa made with Cocchi Americano rosa, lime, ginger, cucumber, mint and pomegranate.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    The Holiday Fir is a seasonal sipper made with white fir-infused Dolin dry vermouth, agave, lemon, cinnamon and persimmon.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    He was one of the first to use arugula in a drink, and he's still doing it. The Arugarita is made with Dolin blanc vermouth, arugula, agave and lime.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    The room is open and airy, with seating at the sushi or cocktail bars, along the windows or in various private dining rooms.