Maru is currently closed, "for renovations", as of October 2012.
Maru is on the corner of William and Thompson streets, which is where Seoul Korner used to be. They serve Korean classics and also offer many varieties of Bi Bim Bop. Lunch specials are available from 11 AM through 3 PM.
Maru's Bi Bim Bop (Bibimbap) menu includes:
- Dolsot Bibimbap
- Haemul Dolsot Bibimbap (Seafood Dolsot Bibimbap)
- Haecho Bibimbap (Seaweed Bibimbap)
- Saessak Bibimbap (Sprouts Bibimbap)
- Hoedeopbap/hweh duhp bap (Raw Fish Bibimbap)
414 E. William St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104
MattH visited Maru on 3 Jan 2008. The restaurant is, cosmetically, still mostly Seoul Korner. The old sign is still outside, the tables, chairs, and basic configuration are unchanged. The kitchen, however, has been curtained off, and you no longer order at its window. Water and tea are no longer self-serve, either. The walls are covered in a neat paper patterned with Korean characters, and some small decorations have been added to the walls.
I tried Dolsot Bi Bim Bop at the end of the lunch rush, around 1.00pm. Fortunately, it was smaller than Seoul Korner's portions. The meat was different, ground beef instead of the old B3 beef. Vegetables were yummy, but also different: carrots, greens, cucumbers, an amount unidentified white root, sprouts. A piece of lettuce (not spinach) was detected in the mix. Unfortunately, the rice was too wet and the stone bowl too oily to form SK levels of crunchyness.
A bowl rice-cake soup, huge, was filled with peppery broth, egg strips, green onion slices, fatty beef, oval sliced rice cakes and rice noodles. Delicious, filling, way too huge.
Both were $8.95 at lunch.
Perhaps imperfect initial results -- but understandable for the end of lunch rush a short time after launch. When I worked at the AADL, Seoul Korner was an excellent winter treat and remedy to stifling air, cold weather, and occasional frustration. Most of the atmosphere -- and certainly this Dolsot Bi Bim Bop -- was different, but I'll be heading back soon to check up.
KathyKat visited Maru on 5 Jan 2008. Seoul Korner was conveniently located and had decent food. My Korean friends weren't very fond of the old SK either. I honestly am not sure how SK won "2006 Best Ann Arbor Korean Restaurant."
Although MattH mentioned a few changes to the interior, there are some other key changes. For one, I didn't need to walk outside to use the restroom. The obstructive wall has finally been torn down. There is new wood paneling on the right side of the restaurant as well.
But what really mattered was the food.
- Dolsot Bi Bim Bop- Not as crunchy as Seoul Korner's, but Maru's is definitely tastier. Perhaps those who prefer it crunchier can make a request while ordering.
- Bul Go Ki- Juicy and flavorful. I found Seoul Korner's to be too dry and flavorless.
- Chicken Katsu- Juicy and crispy. Maru uses its own house sauce (yummy) rather than the regular tonkatsu sauce.
- Hoedeopbap- My friend's order, but I couldn't stop stealing some bites. Will definitely order this on my next visit.
- Soon Dae- Probably one of the few restaurants that make their own Soon Dae. Absolutely delicious. We had to order seconds.
- Fried dumplings- Very meaty and fulfilling.
Bonus points for free extra rice. SK used to charge .50 for each extra bowl. Maru's side dishes are also tastier.
We left Maru with our stomachs full and satisfied. As an all-American college girl, I'm not the biggest expert on authentic Korean cuisine. But if my Korean friends enjoyed their dinner, then that says a lot. I'd love to visit Maru again soon, but I'm unfortunately out of state right now.
Final thoughts: Maru is on my list of top Korean restaurants.
More impressions, elsewhere:
I really like Maru. The menu is much more varied and broad--you can get all kinds of bi bim bop, including Haecho Bibimbap (Seaweed Bibimbap) and Hoedeopbap (Raw Fish Bibimbap).