Maru Japanese Noodle Shop quietly opened at 1370 N. Silverbell Rd. Ste. 180, which previously housed San Carlos Grill.
The fast-casual restaurant allows customers to choose ready-to-eat appetizers from heat lamps, then order from the menu with the cashier and sit down.
Udon noodles star on the menu with eight different varieties available. Additionally, Maru offers a selection of ramen, donburi, onigiri, tempura, and other Japanese appetizers.
Like at its sister restaurant Yoshimatsu, vegans will have an easy time ordering with a wide range of options and substitutions available that are clearly labeled.
Additionally, the restaurant features a ‘topping bar’ with ingredients such as seaweed strips, raw garlic paste, pickled ginger strips, sliced scallions, sesame seeds, cilantro, tempura bits, ponzu sauce, spicy mayo, and more.
Dishes are garnished minimally, so customers are free to go crazy with toppings on their takoyaki or load their ramen broth generously with garlic. Premium toppings such as meat, tofu, corn, ajitama egg halves, kimchi, and edamame are available a la carte at an additional cost.
While the heat lamp setup isn’t ideal for freshness, it’s a lifesaver for those in a rush or starving when they arrive. The pork katsu was already sliced on the plate but was still juicy and crunchy when we dug in. However, keep in mind that we arrived minutes after their 11 a.m. opening time.
The tempura zucchini cooled down significantly by the time we had finished taking photos (our fault), so we’ll have to order it again next time and eat it with haste.
Takoyaki sits bare on a plate, so utilize the topping bar. They had all of the traditional fixings aside from bonito flakes. They are also best enjoyed fresh, so if you want to snap it for Instagram, be quick.
Although salmon onigiri was available under the heat lamp, we opted for made-to-order onigiri. The tempura shrimp onigiri was the best of the bunch — although the single shrimp was only available down the center of the rice ball, the rice was thoroughly seasoned and made each bite enjoyable. The heat lamp onigiri was clearly labeled with a timestamp of when it was made, so we would have been comfortable grabbing that on the go.
Side note: even though we dined in, the onigiri arrived wrapped in a distinct plastic wrap with a red strip to peel, akin to the red strip on a pack of gum. This seems to indicate this plastic-wrapping device is used for all of the onigiri; hopefully they can incorporate plastic-less onigiri for dine-in orders.
The entrées came out surprisingly quickly. The Sesame Chicken Don ($9) featured a sliced chicken breast covered in a light gingery sauce. The veggie udon featured a generous pile of vegetables that were on the crunchier side.
We’ll return to try the other noodle soups and report accordingly.
Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily.
Maru Japanese Noodle Shop is located at 1370 N. Silverbell Rd. Ste. 180. For more information, call (520) 838-0717 or visit marunoodle.com.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran’s Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...