Yesterday afternoon Lauren, Ian and I dined at Maru, a Korean and Japanese restaurant located off Town Center in Summerlin. I must say Korean food is not one of my favorite cuisines, perhaps because Koreans are very adept at food preservation and I've never been a huge fan of anything fermented, with the exception of alcohol. Something about the little fizz attached to fermented foods makes me a little squeamish. Kimchi is a great example, although it can also be prepared fresh, which I prefer. In any case, I like to expose myself to all cuisines so I still eat Korean food occasionally.
The Korean dish I like the most is bibimbap, which is not only fun to say, but also fun to eat. It is an authentic dish that is accessible to the American pallet, best served in a hot stone pot. It consists of white rice topped with a pretty display of meat, a variety of vegetables, and a raw egg, along with a sweet and spicy sauce (pictured above). The first time Ian and I had this dish we got it without the egg and started eating the toppings first, dipping them in the sauce. We were corrected by the waitress who came over and poured the sauce over the toppings, then used a long metal spoon to mix all the contents of the pot together into a tasty hodge-podge. After she did so the dish made more sense, and the next time I didn't omit the raw egg since the the heat of the rice and the pot cooks it to a state I much prefer (see what the dish looks like after mixing below). Bibimbap is served at almost all Korean restaurants and usually one pot is enough for two average eaters, so it is as affordable as it is yummy (at Maru it is$9.99).
Korean food is always accompanied by banchan, or little side dishes, so I find this is a good way to try Korean specialties without having to make a whole meal out of them. The side dishes can range from seaweed and fishcakes to cold mashed potatoes and kimchi, and generally you are served about five of them. The banchan at Maru are very good, and I appreciate that they always change so you have a bit different experience each time.
Ian ordered the spicy pork lunch special which wasn't as good as the bibimbap. The flavor was fine but the pork was very oily and it was hard to find the good cuts of meat in the pile. It came with mediocre tempura, an average salad, rice, and a delicious cup of miso soup (one of the better I've had). We agreed we probably wouldn't order it again.
Maru, which has a lovely modern dining room complete with mini atrium, also has a sushi bar. I ordered sashimi here once and thought it was incredibly fresh, though the rolls on the menu aren't as interesting as say, Sushi Fever. It's nice that the restaurant offers two cuisines so you can please all the pallets in your party.
Today's Food Rating: 6.5
Would I go back? YES, BUT I'LL STICK WITH THE BIBIMBAP.