Having waited what seemed an eternity to get into the exalted Marumo’s door, my pals JS, Frau K, The Prof and I were like excited schoolgirls waiting to visit their teen crush. Securing a table at Marumo is a mission in itself, and it took me a good six months of frantic internet keyboarding to secure a table. It was worth waiting for. The tiny restaurant features an Omakase menu that evolves monthly, according to produce availability.
Our amuse bouche was presented shortly after we were seated. For the life of me I cannot remember what this was except that it was seafood, and a simple but fitting precursor to what followed.
Chef Moe sources salmon roe from the Yarra Valley and yamaimo (a type of yam) from southern Japan. This man is committed to excellence in all he does, as we were to see throughout the evening. Our first course was yellow fin Pacific tuna and yamaimo. The tuna nestled on a jus of mirin and lemon juice, with a hint of mustard wasabi. Just melt-in-your-mouth fresh and as with every course, beautifully presented.
Next up was the Margaret River beef tatami, featuring lightly seared beef served with a light Ponzu sauce and dried yuzu (a tangy and sweet Japanese citrus fruit). I’m not generally a fan of red meat, but this dish was so subtly flavoured that it wasn’t at all like eating a piece of steak. There was no strong meaty flavour, and the beef was incredibly lean, soft and delicate. The light, citrusy flavour of the sauce was perfect for dipping the meat in, while the tiny pieces of spring onion and thin radish slices provided a crunchy contrast.
Soft shell crab and enoki was presented next, and this was one of my two favourite courses. Fried nori was rolled around lightly battered soft shell crab, mashed potato and sweet corn. Served with tiny enoki mushrooms and a dashi-based stock, this was unlike any soft shell crab dish I have ever eaten. The crunch of the crab and the nori contrasted with the soft potato and the sweetness of the corn. We were advised to eat this in one mouthful so as to capture the tastes and textures of all the elements of the dish. It was a brilliantly executed dish and I would come back here just for this.
The chef’s section of sashimi was next up, and this featured scallops, salmon and (I think) kingfish. Although I took notes throughout dinner, I was focused on eating and enjoying the experience so I wasn’t meticulous about noting all of the details. Sometimes you just have to savour the moment. Again, the feature of this course was the ultra freshness of the ingredients.
Our next course of Tasmanian salmon belly sushi was my other favourite dish of the evening. Sushi never tasted this good. Crunchy prawns were encased in sushi rice and topped with barbecued salmon belly and salty fish roe. The smoky barbecue flavour of the salmon belly really shone in this dish and again, we were advised to eat the whole piece in one mouthful so we could experience all of the flavours at the same time.
The final savoury course was the biggest one of the evening. Linley Valley pork fillet had been cooked sous vide, then pan fried and served with a lush sweet Mirin-soy sauce. None of us could finish this dish though this is no reflection on the dish itself, but rather on the size of the dish towards the end of an immensely satisfying meal. I’m fairly certain men would have no issues polishing off the meat, but for four gals it proved too much. Not to mention we knew dessert lay ahead and we absolutely had to leave space for that.
The courses were spread out over several hours, and we were never rushed. I enjoyed the explanation that came with each course, and the way each course was so lovingly presented. There is so much integrity and love in Marumo’s little kitchen.
Before dessert was presented, we were served a small sorbet. The tang of juicy orange was evident in this refreshing little citrus palate cleanser.
Dessert was a delectable concoction of miso caramel parfait, pear and popcorn. I love the way chef Moe turns everyday ingredients like miso, into something special and out-of-the-box. The miso flavour was subtle and barely detectable. As expected of Japanese desserts this was a light but creamy dish that was a fitting end to a memorable meal.
This is one of the most enjoyable fine dining experiences I’ve had in Perth. It’s quality minus the hefty price tag, and minus the pomp and ceremony. For $60, you have an evening of superlative dining in a cosy atmosphere. You can even BYO your booze. Chef Moe loves to cook. That’s all he wants to do, he told me. “I don’t want to think about the details. I know that people complain because they can’t get a table here. But I leave my wife to take care of all that. I just want to cook”. And cook he does. Although “cook” seems to belie the mastery of what he does. He doesn’t just cook; he imagines, creates and perfects.
Now that Dimmi is handling the table bookings it is easier to book a table, and that is how I managed to secure a booking after fruitless months of trying beforehand. You have to be prepared to eat whatever Moe creates on the day, so there’s no room for fussy diners in this establishment. But if you treasure exceptional food experiences and appreciate cooking as an art form, I recommend you indulge yourself at Marumo’s. Just be prepared for a bit of wait, as tables are now booked up 10 weeks ahead.