Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Marumo Japanese Kitchen

Marumo Japanese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I first encountered this Japanese gem by a "I Eat To Live rather than the other way around" friend who asked for my humble opinion on this degustation restaurant.
I decided I would have to answer that question in approximately 2 months time (which was their next available slot for dinner!)

After a begrudgingly long wait of 1/6 of a year and following GPS directions which I was certain were taking us on an adventure rather than to dinner, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel that was Marumo.

I don't think I have ever waited (or driven) that long for a dinner.
Marumo Japanese Kitchen
Marumo Japanese Kitchen was a very unheard of restaurant by yours truly, nestled in the middle of nowhere in a quiet suburban street.
The appearance itself is simple, plain and unpretentious, and totally surprising for such a highly commended and talked-about restaurant; not at all reflecting what Chef Moe can really do!

The 7 courses are presented slowly but at a consistent pace, with ample time in between for getting to know your dining partner on a first date (or getting to know your partner too much on the 100th date).

Dates schmates. I sat down feeling jittery and excited, these feelings purely evoked by the greatly anticipated dinner ahead.
Wakame Salad & Green Tea
With my appetite subconsciously preparing itself for the first course of gyoza, this was nicely interrupted when we are presented with a teaser-sized starter of my favourite;
the wakame salad - with the first strand crunchy, fresh and as addictive as the last one I painstakingly pick up with my not-consolidated chopstick skills.

Pork Gyoza
Pan-fried gyoza can be all the rave when done deliciously, and these sure fit that category.
Sometimes it can be the small serving that makes them objects that are lusted after, but I know I could down a dozen of these in one sitting.
And scary thing is, I'm not even joking.

Japanese Pork Gyoza
Delicate little pillows with pleasingly imperfect dumpling edges are what makes these Japanese pork dumplings so real and homemade.

A juicy meat filling wrapped in slightly crispy pan-fried skin lightly sprinkled in chilli seasoning renders my dish of ponzu vinaigrette obsolete in this instance.

 The 2nd course brings korokke, a lightly fried and delightfully crunchy crumbed vegetable croquette with shichimi lime mayo skid mark art on the food canvas.

Chicken Yakitori
Upon informing the chef when booking regarding inevitable dietary requirements, Marumo kindly substitutes the menu item that poses a problem for you and prepares another dish that caters to your needs.

Playing it safe, I steered away from all fried items and dishes involving cheese.
I was presented with 2 plump skewers of succulent grilled chicken instead, much to A's jealousy and dismay.

As expected, these chicken thigh pieces were so moist and tender, served with mayonnaise and a slightly thickened sweet soy sauce.

Chawan Mushi
I get egg-cited by eggs any day (oh dear) but admittedly seeing this on the menu was initially a disappointment, for I am underwhelmed by the chawan mushis I have come across (and partly because I am accustomed to Dad's fantastically slippery smooth steamed eggs dish).

I was met with happiness after I plunged my spoon into the depths of that savoury steamed egg custard to meet with the Mt Barker chicken pieces at the base, along with the thinly sliced mushrooms set in egg.

With each spoonful put into my mouth along with that single split green bean, I am pleased to report the wobbly egg custard is as smooth as a baby's bottom. And as delicious too, as babies' bottoms are delicious.

A delectable presentation of sashimi is served next, in a ruler's length boat shaped dish. The chef's selection of assorted sashimi tonight is a mixture of Tasmanian Salmon, Yellowfin Tuna and Fremantle Kingfish served with delicately thin garnishes.

Floats my boat anyday!

Why oh why is there so little of you?
If the thought of raw fish isn't your cup of tea and slimy comes to mind, it would be hard to convert non-sashimi enthusiasts to like this.

However in another world where the word slimy would be an insult to describe sashimi, smooth and silky are much more acceptable adjectives for these lusted after pieces of fresh fish.

Tempura Prawn Sushi
A course in a Japanese degustation unsurprisingly features the epitome of Japanese cuisine - the ubiquitous sushi roll.

On the menu at Marumo was a crispy prawn tempura uramaki roll pressed with seasoning and sesame seeds, layered with lightly torched pieces of salmon belly and garnished with tobiko to finish.

So same, but so different
Salmon Sushi Roll Sandwich!
Following on from my no fried food policy requested, the chef has so fittingly replaced the tempura prawn filling with raw salmon - I was ecstatic! Little did I know my food intolerances made me an even happier diner that night :)

This salmon-on-salmon action was a delicious partnership and this concoction resulted in deliciously creamy mouthfuls.

Lemon & Orange Sorbet
Being ever so considerate of diners' appetites, the delivery of this palate cleanser was the most welcome addition to the dinner, whose different flavours was fast approaching the state of Muddle.

The small shooter glass of icy cool lemon and orange sorbet included slithers of orange zest was a most refreshing break between all the creamy, protein-esque courses that lined, settled and prepared the stomach for the finale of courses ahead.

Miso Soup
Up next, a bowl of piping hot miso soup, in great contrast to the coolness still lingering in the stomach from the ice cold, citrus sorbet.

To my great surprise, by this point in time I had enough. So really, that advice you always hear about eating slowly to feel fuller is no myth at all!

5 courses later, this is what I see as the main course of the night. I am grasping my stomach too much to really appreciate the flavours of this grilled Fremantle cod; with its smooth yet firm flakiness throughout.

I found no difficulty however, in finishing off the green cabbage salad on the side (seriously!), dressed with a fragrant sesame sauce, and that crisp lotus root chip that shattered delightfully between my teeth.

Fully aware of the stomach's limits, the waiter asks each diner whether they would like a bowl of rice to accompany the fish course. 11 times out of 10 I am always hungry for rice, but this time I am relieved we have decided on one bowl to share instead.

Sometimes, saying no is the best thing you could do for yourself.

Goma Ice Cream
It is an unwritten rule that meals like these must definitely end on a sweet note!

Dessert presentation was elegantly simple and did not disappoint, with a scoop of black sesame speckled ice cream balanced on a bed of roasted crushed peanuts underneath and a sweet, syrupy strawberry compote on the side.

Licked this plate clean (with my fork). Definitely a sweet ending :)

One day, I will see a real cherry blossom tree!
Snagged a good position, seated right beneath the stars and cherry blossom tree ;)

View from outside of Marumo
Showcasing Japanese inspired dishes, the chef offers an intimate but casual dining experience cooking from his open kitchen for a small crowd, much like a private dinner function at home.

Despite the minimal, simplistic set up of the restaurant, Marumo still manages little touches of Japan with its wall sticker displays, ornaments, small figurines and bottle display cabinets present in the small shop front.

Less distractions for us means more concentration in the food; so indeed, a wise idea to invest more thought into the food instead :)


Initially underwhelmed by the exterior then pleasantly overwhelmed by the quality of dinner that night, Marumo more than deserves all the praise it receives from all the happy and full diners that have emerged from this humble little dining venture that is capable of amazing things.

Dinner operates from an omakase menu, meaning the selection of dishes is up to the chef; and trust the chef you should. The menu changes seasonally and is dependent on availability of fresh produce, and is a steal at $39 per person - definitely one of the cheapest degustation dinners around.

I will also sing praises about the efficiency and quality of the service of staff that night (which came to a grand total of 2 people). Perfectly timed delivery between courses still meant the duration of dinner was spread out over 3 hours of non-stop eating from 7pm, with constant refills of green tea and immediate replies from email enquiries.

Grieving over how malnutritioned my wallet is looking at the moment, degustation dinners are out of my league for a while...or until I can secure my next booking at Marumo!
Because most times, delayed gratification is for the better.

Dinner Tuesday - Sunday: 7pm to 10pm
(08) 9310 8255
Cash only. BYO $1.50.

Check calendar on site for available dates


Monday, 19 November 2012

Springfeast 2012

Hello lovely people, the blog is up and awake again from its silent hiatus in the past weeks.
It is back and running, and so am I.
Rest assured I am alive - and eating - and if those aren't enough reasons to be thankful for, then I don't know what is :)
More food perhaps?


Just over 1 month ago, The University of Western Australia marked Multicultural Week (complete with an opening ceremony!) , a week long not-for-profit celebration of multiculturalism to showcase all the cultures that make up our diverse community.

There's one secret ingredient to bring everyone together.


Or Springfeast - a feast of cultures and a delicious festive night of food, song, dance, music (think Gangnam Style. Lots and lots of Gangnam Style), food, performances, kung-fu, lion dancing, raffle draws (is a Polaroid enough to lure you in next year?), food, and food.
The other things really are just side dishes to the main course (more like courses!) of food that you eat that night.

With over 60 stalls set up in the Guild Village, the grounds were filled with a few thousand hungry people, delicious aromas and all the long queues and accidental elbowing that a crowd of a few thousand would bring.
And just like they shouldn't, nobody seemed to care :)

The calm before the (people) storm
Although the grass was greener on my side of the fence, I couldn't wait to get me some concrete.

And this...

Claustrophobia, anyone?
Turned into this.

The buzz of excitement in the air, ridiculous amounts of eating and spending, and the sense of hunger in this food-loving community all around felt amazing.

Pork Grylls' stall
I had the pleasure (or misfortune?) of helping out one of the stalls as an employee instead of a joint owner, meaning while I could get away with 1 or 2 free sticks of nem nuong, I know they wanted the $3 out of me still.

Strong friends, who ask why you don't pay after you stay until 1am the previous night to help thread skewers and make signage.

These went real quick soon after the crowd was reassured that the pink meat, was in fact, cooked. Once they cranked up the fire, the grilled pork at Pork Grylls didn't last long. Although dyed a discerningly pink colour, the marinated pork skewers were deliciously sweet and tempting.

Bear Grylls would be proud!

Spiral Spud Sticks
Right across from Pork Grylls with a longer line of competition is the ubiquitous food festival snack, the spud spiral.

There's nothing that quite satisfies the way that sliced potato on a stick does.

Lee's Tidbits
A very interesting store name with equally as interesting bits that were on sale offered the gut clogging indulgence of deep-fried oreos, dipped in pancake batter and deep fried for that combination of crispy outer layer and inner chewy chocolate.

At 2 for $3, you really probably shouldn't be spending any more than $3.

Other sweet and savoury treats on sale were baked curry puffs and honey glazed bak kwa, their homemade version of what most know as jerky. This barbequed dried pork features a salty and sweet taste and is usually oh so moreish.

Fairy Floss Stall
One of the many dessert stores.
You know the Candyman will never, ever dessert you ;)

Fairy floss in the selling
As a kid, I always associated fairy floss with happiness.
And there were many big, fluffy, pink clouds of happiness wafting through the crowd that night.

As an adult who needed fillings, sugar-decayed teeth is nothing to be happy about.

Two of my (sort of) favourite things, side by side
Eyebrow-raising conversation - is when you find out a friend has named their stall Jackie Chan's Octopus Balls, or something appealing like that.

Very misleading, since all they sold was the octopus balls bit and you tiao, long deep-fried dough sticks, and what some call chinese churros.

Next door stood Utopia, the bubble tea giant with their big household name bubble teas of Original Milk Tea, the romantically named Summer & Winter Love teas, and their fruity counterparts.

Just a small sample of their extensive drinks menu, and now even adding freshly made sweet and savoury waffles for even more fun. The waffle bandwagon - everyone's jumping on lately!

Love these sights
I believe the calmness in this gentlemen was soon met with a frenzy of satay-hungry cannibals. I loved the way he had a bench set up and relaxingly fanning the tiny barbeque, which probably only made enough sticks to feed 3 people at a time.

Unenthused by the rest of the world, like he's grilling one satay at a time :)

Sedap Corner
Being neighbours did not mean a chance to use food as currency for exchange across borders, unfortunately.

Within arm's reach from Pork Grylls, Sedap Corner dished out burgers, beef satays and mini murtabak throughout the night.

There were various stores that had an identity crisis at this Multicultural Fair!
Front row seats at the Satay Grilling premiere
Getting in as close as I could without appearing freaky, I decided to be their customer so that things didn't get too weird. Not at all because I was craving for it.

Probably the largest grilling hotplate that night that consequently produced the largest cloud of aromatic, satay-infused fumes, meant they were very popular that night.

My first plate of the night
I've begun to take great caution with buying abruptly grilled satays at food events like so, because of a busy stall at a food market who handled their long line of customers by pumping out satay sticks which were deliciously grilled on the outside and nicely raw on the inside.

I was horrified. But did not want to fight the line again to get some money (or cooked satay sticks) back.

The best things about this plate - it was cooked. And very nicely cooked at that, paired with a sweet, nutty sauce.

Northern China Feast
Northern China looked pretty empty when I strolled past in the beginning, and I didn't get to try (i.e. forgot) that tempting sounding lamb skewers.

Chocolate Fountain
Not sure if these guys allowed customers to play with their own purchased food and coat a few thousand layers of chocolate on themselves, because that's half (lets face it, more like all) the fun.

Marshmallow and fruit shish kebabs dabbled in the chocolate fountain are great, but just not the type of thing I'd waste stomach space for.

Typical Asian delights everywhere...
One of the popular choices for sale that night had to be the famous curry fishball. While soaking in all that glorious curry gravy, they all bubble away like bobbing heads in a witches cauldron while releasing the most delicious smells.

Malaysian cuisine made quite an appearance that night, with multiple stallholders selling boxed takeaways of their big names like Curry chicken and rice, Nasi Lemak...

All things sweet :)
Surprisingly dessert stations were in the minority that night, or perhaps I just did not explore enough? I strolled past these delectable looking sweets that caught my eye and found myself trying my best to check them out.

I made a mental note to come back and purchase these but I never did. Bummer!
Dessert stalls
I scouted other Asian dessert stalls involving ice kacangice cendol, and tofu fa.

Also making appearances were muah chee, usually sticky glutinous flour balls coated in sugar, roasted and crushed peanuts and toasted sesame seeds; onde onde, glutinous rice balls with centre fillings and kuih talam - also known as "tray cake", with the two layers making up this much loved slab typically being coconut milk and pandan leaf extract.

Why is glutinous rice flour featured so much you ask?
Why not! It's delicious!

Of course, the typical burger stall, but with not-so-typical burger fillings!
It's good to be different.

The Burger featured the kimchi burger and sides of onion rings to suit. And if you want to save a whopping 50 cents off your dinner, you could upgrade to a meal of the two items for $8.
Pouring of the bandung
With a small $2 coin, you could get a taste of bandung, a sweet flavoured beverage consisting of milk and rose cordial syrup that gives it its deep pink tinge. 

R n B fittingly sold their signature Rojak n Bandung, with rojak as a traditional Asian fruit and vegetable salad of cucumber, bean sprouts, pineapple, deep fried tofu, and Chinese style fritters mixed with special dressing.
A refreshingly healthy sounding and tasting dish really, compared to just about everything else Asian food is known for.

Just another Malaysian stall...
Growing up in Australia has resulted in my limited exposure to foreign foods along with their foreign names. While the first is recognisable to me, the names that follow have descending familiarity with me.

Keropok Lekor to my understanding, are fish crackers that are long and chewy and shaped like sausages. Very different to the prawn crackers I had in mind, which are flat and crispy.

Food vocabulary boosted!
And just another dessert stall
This dessert shop showcased a delectable range of pre-made sweets, featuring homemade soy milk, tiramisu cake (with quite a hefty price tag of $8), green tea cheesecake, maltose candy, and bowls of soy beancurd.

A nearby stall offered different types of sweets - the variety at Springfeast should really be commended! This particular store's party mix included deep fried sweet potato balls, banana jemput jemput (banana fritters) and deep fried ice cream.

Always have and always will sound amazing in my head, but that's where it will stay amazing, as I still have not developed a fondness for deep fried ice cream.

Vietnamese Stall
This Vietnamese stall was a not-for-profit organisation, with sales going towards scholarship funds to grant Vietnamese girls the gift of education to help in life.

With such a worthy, generous cause, it helped that the table looked loaded with goodies ranging from both fried and fresh rolled Vietnamese spring rolls, fish/prawn/beef ball sticks, herbal jelly and a range of patisseries sponsored by Jean Claude bakery (a personal favourite!) :)

Even more sweet fixes to choose from
Cupcakes? Well of course - definitely a food festival staple!

Soon's Legit Biscuits
I didn't get close enough to see just how legit these legit biscuits were, so I don't know what they actually were or what ingredients they were composed of.

But they looked very legit enough to be classified as cookies, unlike the ones that turn out in my own oven.

Hong Kong Kitchen
Run by the Cantonese Student Association, this stall boasted a large, if not largest, stall front at the food festival this year, as well as the previous year I visited.

Having a lot of people behind the table meant more mouths, more voices and more promotion. I was lured in and eventually bought a stick of curry fish balls for $5 which had massively sized balls, after playing the sellers up against their competition across the path who were selling for cheaper.

In addition to the famous curry fish ball were chicken wings, coconut sago, lettuce wrap, bowls of butter corn and green tea rice cake that I promised (and lied) I'd go back for.

Ice Cream Truck
My childhood favourite - the joyous moment of seeing the Ice Cream man pulling up in his truck at the park, right up to just last week when I hear the happy van blaring its recognisable trademark ice cream tunes around my neighbourhood.

This new, colourful rendition of the older pink and white ice cream van still features all the same favourites that everyone loved; traditional vanilla cones with variations of being sprinkled, topped with, or coated in sherbet, crushed nuts, chocolate, and the hundreds and thousands rainbow.

Waikika Moo Cow
These guys have been here every year, dishing out frozen yoghurt treats as we approach the relatively warmer months here in Australia, since our winters really should not be classified as Winter.

Frozen yoghurt, otherwise known as froyo - its more affectionate name, has been very well accepted recently, with multiple new franchises selling this fast, healthy dessert. Thanks to that, the taste of Summer is absolutely everywhere! (Especially with our year long Summery months that Perth is blessed with) :)

Pojok Indonesia Stall
Run by the Indonesian Students Society of UWA, this stall introduces Indonesian classics to the night's massive menu.

Items for sale included Martabak asin, a popular street food that bears resemblance to the gozleme, is a stuffed then fried pastry with onion and chicken/beef filling;
Pisang goreng - banana fritters; and Soto - a comforting broth with meat and vegetables, a very common dish in Asian cuisine.

Go nuts for nuts!
I love my nuts, but did not end up purchasing anything from this nut-abundant stall.
It featured a really enticing range of different nuts prepared with different coatings and spices such as salted, chilli and honey macadamias, almonds, cashews, peanuts and even more nuts!

But what really caught my eye beyond all the golden roasted nuts in the warmer, was indeed the tray of chicken salt pork crackle pieces selling at $5 per bag.
Heartthrob. Literally.

Chocolate Dipped Fruit
Amongst all the action was the more familiar and laid back Chocolate stall, which made fruit a little more indulgent, and a little less innocent.

It sold all sorts of chocolate coated goodies - marshmallows, fruits, and pretty much anything else that pairs up well with chocolate (which in fact, is everything).


The pictures stopped there but the food definitely did not. There was a maze of other stalls and a whole lot of cultural food coming out to the multicultural party.
I didn't manage to get a picture of every other stalls that night (despite being very snap happy), and unfortunately missed out on a lot of eating too.

The list of other foods included:

  • Piping hot takoyaki dressed in sauce, mayo and bonito flakes and Matcha ice cream presented by the Japanese Studies Society;
  • tea eggs, curry fishballs and chilli sausages by the Little Singapore stall;
  • Chai Tau Kuay - fried carrot cake, a famous dish in hawker cuisine consisting of radish cake pieces stir fried with eggs and coated with sweet dark sauce and chin chow - a grass jelly drink with supposedly cooling yin properties by the O'Char Kee stall;
  • Homemade Kaya toast by the Kaya Squad - a coconut jam made from coconut milk and eggs, flavoured by the pandan leaf and sweetened with sugar; and
  • the mentionable Korean Cultural Club Gangnam Style Rice Cake stall who sold cups of ddeokbboki - spicy rice cakes which plague the Korean street snack food world.

Japanese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese and Mexican cuisine all made prominent appearances that night, with chicken karaage, nasi lemak, chicken curry with tumeric rice, prawn dumplings, chicken satay, yakitoriokonomiyaki, nachos and burritos with the fillings of free range chicken; corn, pinto and kidney beans; or beef and black beans with a trio of capsicum from the Mexican Burrito Bar.

Your usual taco/burrito/nacho schmacho fare weren't the only usual Mexican representatives though, with the La Paleta crew selling handmade Mexican gelato icy treats with all natural ingredients and featuring seasonal produce and quirky flavours -
think strawberry & hibiscus; lime pie; salty caramel; cucumber, chilli & lime; coconut; rhubarb and cardamom; and lemonade (because they can).
Mouth watering yet? Because mine is, even while feeding on a big bowl of cookies and cream ice cream. Right now.

Or get your shaved ice in Asian inspired flavours from the Icey Ice stall.

Two grown men, two little stools
Looks like Vietnam to me! :)
These two did a fantastic job through all the smoke-in-eyes, glasses fogging up with smoke, difficulty of starting up the barbeques and lack of barbeques in general.

The most difficult part of the night: starting up (and keeping alight) the fire...
Have you seen the inside of a volcano? :P
With the next hardest part being trying not to get spat on by fire.

Pork Skewer Party
With squats, stools and wooden foldable paper fans, I smell authentic!

From the concept last year to a reality this year, they dished out delicious sticks of nem nuong for all.
From here, it can only become bigger and better, just like Springfeast has.

I am proud to be an Australian just as much I am proud to be rocking my own culture.
It is so possible to be a part of two cultures at once, just how the words diversity and unity can work perfectly in the same sentence.

The guys at the MCW committee have put together a very heartwarming video on Youtube, reminding us no matter what culture we are born into, belong to, grow up to, or live in; every person's definition of what home means to them will always be similar, if not the same.

Get your stomach ready and see you next year for Springfeast 2013!
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