I, myself, was not in a family of sushi lovers. I used to be one of those people who would laugh at the raw fish eaters and part of my ignorance was because I was never properly introduced to sushi.
My first experience with sushi was in Ocean City, NJ, on the boardwalk at some hole in the wall establishment run by people who were as Asian as me. It was terrible, I hated it and it just reaffirmed my hatred of raw fish for many years. In 1999, my brother and his wife moved to New York, in an apartment on Duane Street in SoHo. They, being the quintessential yuppies, loved sushi and decided to formally get me interested in it - by taking me to a proper sushi bar.
They decided on Tomoe, on Thompson. If you haven't been to Tomoe, well it certainly ranks up there with one of the better sushi bars in the city. What it lacks in decor and size it certainly makes up for in fish quality and deliciousness. It began with much trepidation, but my fears were soon allayed and I was hooked (no pun intended).
Fast forward seven years and i'm now in Hoboken, where I eat sushi at least once a week. My trips to Tomoe are few and far between, and I find myself trying various establishments in Hoboken over the years for my sushi fix. In recent memory, our town has seen an explosive growth of sushi or Japanese restaurants: Sushi Lounge, Sushi House, Robongi, and Illuzion to name a few.
Before the sushi purists read the rest, I will save us all time. Don't email me and or add comments about how Hoboken sushi can't compare to New York. Yes, I know this. New York rules. But for Hoboken, and my standards, the quality of the fish I have discovered has been pleasantly surprising..
Up until lately, I would usually dine at Sushi Lounge every Wednesday, at the bar around 7pm. I would sit down and order the same thing every week - a bottle of Sapporo, an order of edamame & a sushi deluxe (Sushi Lounge calls it the "Sushi Rock"). When I eat sushi, I add only a small bit of soy sauce (with wasabi mixed in) to the edge of the sushi. Pet Peeve Alert: I really hate people who DUNK the entire piece of fish into their bowl and saturate the entire thing. Why not just drink the soy sauce, people?
Anyhow, that was my routine for a few weeks. I liked being able to sit at a bar, order sushi and have a drink. My only thing that I didn't like about Sushi Lounge is that the Sapporo was $7 for a 16 ounce bottle. Sure, I understand the whole cost/drink ratio of bars and restaurants, but $7? The beer was ice cold, and I loved that, but paying over $20 for my food and 1/3 of that was for 1 drink - it would always annoy me when I got the bill. But I would pay my 20% and still would walk away satisfied.
If I didn't want to sit down for sushi, I would normally order from Robongi. When Robongi first opened, I hated it. I would constantly find scales in my fish, and whoever the head chef was, didn't do a good job. But, as of the last year, Robongi has been delicious and the scale problem disappeared. This is the place that I would order takeout, and enjoy eating at my apartment.
Yesterday some people were talking about sushi on Hobokenchat, and we talked about our interests in sushi. It was Wednesday and I was jonesing for some raw fish, but didn't want to walk in the rain (I forgot my umbrella) to Sushi Lounge.
Instead, I went home and thought I would try Illuzion for the first time. I went to the 7th and Park liquor store and bought a 6 bottle pack of Sapporo, for $8.50. $8.50! I stopped by the dry cleaner to get my clothes at Sarah Cleaners. The girl who works there (is it Sarah? Or is Sarah the owner and she doesn't work the place?) is Korean and extremely nice. She has the most adorable Yorkie named Asia, that I love to play with each time I go in there.
I was holding my six pack and she said, "It has been a long day I need a drink too!" I replied, "Yea why don't you come back to my place and I will give you a cup of Furey..."
I kid! I kid!
No, I mentioned how I was going to order sushi and the first thing she said was, "Maru!" and gestured towards Washington Street.
Ah, yes, Maru. The red headed stepchild of Hoboken sushi. Before the recent influx of japanese restaurants, Maru has always been the quiet favorite amongst the established Hoboken resident. I never really went there because i'm your typical Gen X - we like the trendy looking places over the non-trendy. Sushi Lounge was, well, cool. Flat screen TV's and black glossy bar with a great soundsystem playing house music. I was drawn into that place like a fly on sugar.
Maru was stodgy and old. Like the defunct Tamura II - it just didn't visually appeal to me. So I never went to that restaurant. In the last year or so, I noticed that they actually renovated their interior, and it wasn't on the same level as Sushi Lounge, it looked much nicer inside.
Once Sarah (?) mentioned Maru, I decided to give them a try again.
I did go to Maru once before. The first time I tried Maru I was passing by the restaurant one night and dedided to try it. I saw an absolutely gorgeous girl sitting in the window, who was waiting for sushi and talking on a cell phone. I wanted her - and I wanted sushi, so I went in to order. Sadly the cell phone girl was engrossed in her conversation and I didn't get to chat her up. My second strike was that this night that one of their chefs called out sick. I literally sat there for 30 minutes for a takeout order of a sushi deluxe. I wasn't happy on both counts and I really wasn't impressed with my sushi order.
But I usually give restaurants a second chance. I learned in my days of restaurant reviews for Hobokeni - that you really shouldn't go to a restaurant once and try to write a review. Businesses are like people - they can have good nights or bad nights.
I went home, iced down the Sapporo and ordered from Maru over the phone. My order was delivered 30 minutes later, and i'm trying to think the best way to describe this...
It was absolutely fucking God damn ridiculously delicious.
Yes, I just took the Lord's name in vain. I'm sorry, it had to be done.
Holy shit (there I go again), what the fuck just happened? This was dee-lic-ious (that's three syllables people). I was in 7th Heaven with that takeout order, drinking my $1.50 Sapporo and watching TV while tapping my feet and wolfing down the fish.
Farewell, Robongi! I loved ya, babe, but I have a new takeout lover in my life.
If you haven't tried Maru, well, make sure you try it soon:
Hours - (Please confirm) Mon-Thu 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-10:30pm, Fri 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-11pm, Sat 12noon-11pm, Sun 12noon-10pm
Address - 219 Washington St
Telephone - (201) 798-3311
Free Advice: Never order fish on a Monday. I always get sushi on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for good reason - that is usually when you have the best chances to get FRESH fish.