MARU SANTA MONICA

I never say "no" to food, so when my friend Linh asked me to join her for a free tasting at Maru Santa Monica (Instagram), I immediately saved the date. This was my first time experiencing a tasting; I didn't know what to expect, but I was extremely excited.

To give you a background, Maru is a French-inspired Japanese restaurant. Many of the dishes that were served had a combination of both cultures. For each course, the chef Jason Park would come out and explain what inspired him to cook that specific dish. Additionally, the staff paired a cocktail/wine that complements each dish.

The tasting began with sushi and an array of salads. My favorite one was the haricot vert (small string beans) with an Asian pear, baby carrot, and grilled shrimp. By the way, I Googled what haricot vert is, before that I had no idea what it was.

Once the appetizers were finished, the main courses were brought out: scallop risotto, black seabass, filet, and skirt steak. Everything was delicious, especially the risotto! The sauce was creamy and rich, but it wasn't too heavy. The scallop was grilled just enough where it wasn't tough, but still crisp on the outside. Both the filet and skirt steak were tender, and didn't require too much work when cutting the meats in pieces.

At this point, I'm glad I wore my stretchy jumpsuit because my food baby was fully visible. I always save room for dessert though, and it's a good thing I did because the homemade strawberry shortcake was amazing. The whipped cream was light, and the strawberries were tart and sweet! I thought we were done after that, but the servers brought out ANOTHER dessert which was bread pudding topped with Tahitian vanilla ice cream. It was delicious, and I've never felt so full (and satisfied) in my life.

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The experience overall was fantastic. Thank you to the lovely chef Park, servers and staff at Maru for making me feel welcomed to this extravagant 13-course dinner. There was never a dull moment during my time there, and I hope to return again very soon.