Rochelle brought Abi and me to Maru when we were still in college. It’s a Korean Restaurant at Robinson’s Place Manila. I had second thoughts at that time because though I am fascinated with Korea, their boybands do not appeal to me and their koreanovelas make me want to lock myself in a room and cry. Plus, from what I have watched, their dishes are spicy and veggie-ful. I was wrong because I fell in love with their proteins (and I remember Miho everytime). This post is the tale of some of my Maru experiences with wonderful people.
One of the many good things about Maru is the free refillable side dishes. The serving and the items vary day to day, branch to branch. The best set I ever had was from Rob Manila when I first ate there with Rochelle and Abi because it has the highest percentage of things I can eat. I do not know what they were called but there were peanuts, marble potatoes, kimchi, omelettes, shredded veggies in spicy sauce, eggplants, what appeared to look like shrimp paste, soup with tofu and of course, lettuce. The picture below was the set Chabs, Tords, Dai and I had when we ate at their Macapagal branch. The house water served also differ. The one in Rob Manila was plain while in Macapagal, it was light yellow because there was tea (ekkk). We prefer the former.
Rochelle, during my first time, ordered for us because she had been to the place before. Thank God we did not have those dishes that looked complicated to cook and eat. Instead, we had Nguk-gansal, practically meat that was cut in bite-sized pieces. Since then, every time we eat at Maru, we only order their meats, cook them ourselves, and take advantage of the refillable side dishes especially the lettuce. hehe.
Another dish we usually order is the one where the description says “thinly-sliced bacon strips”. I forgot what it’s actually called because the pronunciation alone was hard to remember. This one looked promising when raw but after cooking, it looked plain and tasted plain. We only had this on circumstances when Nguk-gansal is unavailable.
This is me, eating my very first lettuce during my very first visit at Maru. Rochelle taught us how to eat the meat while making use of the side dishes. First you get a lettuce, then you add the thinly sliced veggies that are spicy (or any of the side dishes), add rice (a separate order, 50 pesos each), wrap the contents (in this step, you need to utilize a personal style), dip in either of the two sauces provided and eat whole. Because I had a hard time rolling my lettuce when there’s rice inside, I just ate the rice separately. The left over bone you can see in the picture below was part of my favorite meat. As usual, I do not know what it’s called but it’s the only thing that came with bones in the menu (all others were already cut). It was tasty and tender and I love getting those little pieces of meat off the bone with my bare hands.
Below are the two sauces that made even the plainest meat flavorful. The one on the right is just sesame oil with bits of powdery something. The one on the left is my favorite, a sort of paste with chili and other contents I know nothing of. It’s good, really, really good but some friends are not fond of it saying it tasted weird (worked in favor of me because their shares are mine!).
Another good thing about Maru is their call button. One of the things I don’t like when eating out is raising my hand and calling the waiter’s attention, especially if the said waiter pretends I do not exist and ignores me. With the call button, you simply press and they have no choice but to attend to your request. Whoever thought of this is a genius.
Last year, Dai craved for Maru the way she presently craves for BonChon. We ended up eating there once or twice a week. During one incidence, I was staying at her condo and we were about to sleep at 3 am. I was already on bed and she was about to hop in when she suddenly craved for Nguk Gansal and tteokboki. Guess what? We braved the drunk-people-abundant Pedro Gil and ate at Maru where we were the only customers at 3:30 AM (Store hours 2pm to 4am I think). After Dai’s period of Maru addiction, we did not visit the place for a long time.
Then, during our review class, I suddenly wanted those bones and lettuce so I dragged Ramm and Dai there for lunch. I was sad because the good old waiters serving us before were replaced by inattentive ones. The service was bad. And I don’t remember the place being that hot and humid. Plus the grill on our favorite booth (left side, farthest to the entrance) was malfunctioning so the waiters did the cooking instead of us. The soup with tofu (Dai’s favorite) was nada as well as everything edible for me on the side dish. The plate of lettuce served was half lettuce and half cabbage-y. Most of all, there were too many flies. Unhappy customers