To the uninitiated, Marumi might sound a bit like an episode of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with that Andrew Zimmern guy. Jumbo oysters. Monk fish liver. Crispy fried smelts. The philosophy behind such a menu is simple, however: provide fresh, authentic, traditional-style Japanese food.
Marumi's executive chef and co-owner team Teruhiko Iwasaki and Tetsu Hayakawa are to thank for that. Their 8-year-old establishment, hidden in a sleepy strip mall in Plantation, defies the typical Japanese catch-all you'll find across Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Instead, Marumi is a place any self-proclaiming adventurous foodie should know about, one of the few restaurants in South Florida that specializes in Japan’s Izakaya-style gastropub. Often likened to taverns or pubs, the food menus are displayed on walls and tables, and dishes are usually shared by everyone at the table, similar to Spanish tapas.
Izakaya dining can be intimidating to non-Japanese customers, with the wide variety of menu items and the slow pace, and Marumi is no different. Food is normally ordered slowly over several courses rather than all at once. Take a glance at the specials board at Marumi — a rolling, erasable whiteboard that's placed in front of your table by your server upon seating — and you'll find a wide array of exotic eats.
Consider the giant oyster starter or an uni sushi roll. Here, both are a solid gateway dish for the Izakaya virgins. The oversized Pacific oyster is like a bigger, badder version of your typical raw oyster, able to grow in length from four to more than 12 inches — most on average are harvested when they get to the size of an average person's hand.
At Marumi, each oyster fills out its sturdy shell (or, often, a painted-ceramic one — with fat, firm meat that's sliced and served with a light soy-based dipping sauce, chopped scallion, and a dollop of fancy orange fish eggs. The best way to eat one is with nothing added; while bland oysters need something to jazz them up, a good Pacific oyster that's fat and plump offers a mellow, buttery flavor and a firm, crunchy bite. They don't need anything at all.
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PS: The uni roll is another favorite pick here, a stellar combination of creamy uni paired with the spicy, clean taste of Thai basil and crisp cucumber, both mellow enough to let the umami notes of the sea urchin shine. A few bites and you'll be hooked. Marumi is one of the few places guaranteed to alway have fresh uni onboard.
From there, all that's left to do is explore. Try the deep-fried glass minnows and the grouper liver. Then move on to the sake steamed Venus clam, spicy fried grouper head, fried squid skewers, and a salmon caper carpaccio.
Marumi Sushi is located at 8271 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation. Call 954-318-4455, or visit marumisushi.net.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.