In the heart of Southport, Maruya is a small haven of tranquillity, popular with locals and tourists alike for its well-priced, fresh Japanese food. At the moment there’s more of a ‘multi-Asian’ rather than Chinese feel to the street that houses the proposed Chinatown, Maruya being only one of a couple of decent Japanese restaurants in Southport. The restaurant is larger than it appears to be from the street, extending back around the bar to an enclosed function room at the rear. Popular at lunchtime with local office workers, we’re here for an evening meal, which is far more atmospheric. Dining at Maruya is quite an intimate experience, a tree of fairy lights winking at diners thoughtfully spaced well apart. If you like more action, sit up at the bar overlooking the sushi chef.
As we enjoy a complimentary dish of Edamame beans, we take time to choose from the extensive range of dishes on the menu, from entrée sized plates, such as Gyoza, Takoyaki, Karaage, Waygu Beef Tataki and Agedashi Tofu to larger dishes. With all meals well-priced, it makes sense to order small dishes to share. Our Sashimi is stunningly fresh and silky, presented on top of oyster shells which we would prefer to have been cloaked in seaweed. The Soft shell crab is crunchy and salty, even when dunked in our gyoza’s vinegar dressing. We try to avoid the bright yellow mustard sauce served with the tempura – somehow it’s a shock in this traditional setting, and next time we visit we’ll ask for the dish served without it!
…and speaking of Gyoza, they are the biggest let down of the night. Fried on both sides, flat and greasy, they are not the plump succulent dumplings we’d hoped for! We’ll definitely revisit Maruya to try different menu items, avoiding the fusion dressings on some dishes, working out our favourites. Next time we’ll sample a Bento Box lunch, a healthy alternative to the fast food joints nearby.
Maruya is to be enjoyed for its reasonably priced Japanese food, particularly the fresh sashimi and crisp tempura, enjoyed in a very pleasant setting. You’ll get good friendly service with a smile and you can BYO wine for $2 corkage. There’s plenty of parking in the street, or two hours free parking in a shopping centre car park nearby.