Maru is that cat that jumps in and out of boxes, isn’t it? It’s also a new Korean restaurant in Brussels and arguably the first real one. There’s Hana on St Boniface, but it rather spookily does Japanese and Korean, so possibly doesn’t count. Though I like it. Screw authenticity and give me a massive bowl of rice with stuff on top.
And how is Maru? Well. WELL. I am conflicted. First the good: it looks nice, pale wood and sort of strange, blobby organic shaped tables, exposed piping. It’s a pleasant space in a sort of laid-back, canteeny way, and there are some nice details – pretty tea cups and plates, and the menus are beautiful fold out jobs, with nice calligraphy on the back. This would all work so much better if I had managed to take some photos, but, erm, I didn’t, except a frighteningly awful one of some kimchi that looks like the product of a battlefield amputation. Oh, hang on, I tell a lie. Here’s one that looks like it was taken by accident by a small child trying to play DoodleJump.
YEAH BABY. Oh god, this is just embarrassing. I am sorry. Be grateful I am not including the kimchi picture, eh?
Moving swiftly on: the food was excellent, and very, gratifyingly speedy (I like to eat FAST). I had a starter glass noodle salad with a tiny subtle burn of chili and fresh al dente veg (€13), the eldest had barbecue beef (€19) which he got to cook himself on the hot plate on the table (that’s the big shiny thing you can sort of see in my excellent photo) which came with proper Korean accompaniments, pickles and wilted greens and kimchi and rice, the youngest had a soba noodle soup he hated and I ended up eating (can’t remember how much this was, maybe €14? It was pleasant enough but very plain, with bits of deep fried tofu and seaweed and spring onion), and the boyfriend had to share his stir fried spicy pork which I thought was a bit ordinary but perfectly respectable. I enjoyed the kimchi, which everyone else hated, ET TANT MIEUX. I had serious ordering regret as there were many other things I wanted to eat – bibimbap, especially, and those omlette thingies I used to eat in a mad restaurant by the British Museum in another life. Sigh.
Portions were a bit on the austere side for Korean food, where I usually expect to leave staggering and hallucinating, in the grip of kimchi fever, and I do think the prices are seriously steep. Service was rather chilly – perhaps I should be used to this by now, but being irritably waved to a table and not given menus for ten minutes in a half empty restaurant doesn’t greatly enhance my dining experience and that whole feeling that you’re a massive irritation for the owners and serving staff gives me the rage. Nevertheless, I would go probably back, because I am a slave to kimchi and a masochist.
Maru, Chaussée de Waterloo 510, 02 346 1111