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Maru: Köln’s Ramen-ya

In a previous life, it may have been a coffee shop since there was still a large espresso machine in the middle of the prep area and a tile coffee cup on in front of the stairs going down to the bathroom. Or maybe it was an Italian cafe, since the bathroom mirrors were still stenciled with the words “Buon Giorno”. Regardless of what it was, Maru is now Cologne’s first Ramen-ya, specializing in Ramen and Udon dishes, complimented with donburi (toppings over rice) and Japanese interpretations of Dim Sum.

We went in to Maru not sure what to expect – will it be another “asian fusion” restaurant that promise much but fail on most fronts? Will it be another corporate cafe that just caters to the wanna-bes? Well, it wasn’t anything like that: it was just a humble little shop where you could get a bowl of ramen soup, a little yakigyoza, and a nice bottle of soju.

Yep, soju. Maru has the 200ml bottles of Iichiko Soju, the Japanese Sake distillate which is a true pleasure to find, as well as a good selection of teas, dumplings and even Calpis/Calipco – Japan’s citrusy milk soda.

This evening, we went wild, starting with Jiao-zi (pork and ginger steamed dumplings), Zhen-Bao (buns filled with ground pork, shiitake, onions and ginger that tasted just like a Yoshinoya beef bowl – but in a good way), and Yakigyoza (pot-sticker dumplings) which were all made from scratch as we waited. These were so good, I even ordered some Ebi-Shumai (shrimp dumplings with carrot and ginger).

Following this was some of the most delicate Shoyu-ramen that we have ever had – roasted pork, green onions, mung beans and wakame in a perfectly balanced soy sauce broth.

All of this, five Reissdorf Kölsch (33cl bottles) and a whole bottle of soju (20cl) came to a whopping 47 Euros, placing Maru clearly into our normal selection of restaurants in Cologne.

Maru. Friesenplatz U-bahn. EC Cards and Cash.

Posted in Cologne Life, Food.

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