Düsseldorf, the capital of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is an international business and financial centre, renowned for its fashion and trade fairs and known for its academy of arts as well as its Japanese community, one of the largest in Europe and 11,000 strong. It comes as no surprise then that one would be able to find decent sushi – but to know where to find it, that is the key!
Maruyasu now boasts a total of seven restaurants in Düsseldorf, two in Frankfurt am Main, and one in Meerbusch-Büderich. But if you want to stay close to where the founder and owner Akio Ando is, Maruyasu situated on the lower ground floor of the shopping centre Schadow-Arkaden in the city centre (a stone’s throw from the historic Altstadt of Düsseldorf) is your best choice. A queue is part of the vibrant scene that will greet you once you arrive.
You choose your sushi from the vitrine, all freshly made, and they will take their time to prepare all the extras that go with it before you pay for it and take it with you to eat at a table. A pick up and go concept, but with all the freshness and attention needed to makes this a quality sushi experience.
Although a little on the pricey side, it is still worth the extra euros considering the location, care in preparation, taste and history of the business, the latter of which a framed flyer at the entrance to the restaurant details. Mr. Ando was close to bankruptcy when he was unable to ignite the sushi flame in mid-90s Germany. But inventiveness led the way: when he decided to serve sushi with fried fish or create a new range of “healthy sushi” the appeal of sushi slowly caught on, leading to his success story and the availability of quality sushi in Düsseldorf today.
Starting in Japan, where he worked in agriculture and forestry, to working as a coal miner upon his arrival in Duisburg in 1965, to being a storekeeper for a company importing Japanese foods, to being his own boss preparing and delivering Japanese dishes to Japanese families in the vicinity, and then to opening his first restaurant in Düsseldorf in 1994, Akio Ando has come a long way, overcoming many hurdles and collecting countless invaluable experiences. It is something that lives and breathes through the sushi he serves and through his presence, still making sure everything continues according to his high standard.
Sushi aficionados may already know this, but here’s some interesting facts regarding condiments included in a sushi meal. Wasabi, aside from its piquant flavour, is offered together with sushi due to its anti-microbial properties which may reduce the risk of food poisoning. Sadly, however, an imitation wasabi, dyed green and made from horseradish and mustard powder, is commonly used in bento box sushis, lower-end kaiten-zushi restaurants in Japan, and in most restaurants outside the sushi-famous country. At Maruyasu however, the wasabi served is the real thing, and homemade at that too.
Gari, the sweet, pickled ginger eaten with sushi also has a specific function other than adding flavour: it is to be eaten in between sushi courses in order to both aid digestion and cleanse the palate. Similarly, the green strips looking like leaves you’d see in between take-out sushis are not present for mere decoration but are dividers which prevent the flavours of neighboring pieces from mixing. And did you know that according to traditional etiquette you are meant to turn over the sushi and dip only the topping in soy sauce? Again, from a functional perspective, this makes sense because it prevents the rice from absorbing too much sauce and risk falling apart.
If you’re in the Düsseldorf ‘hood, give Maruyasu a try and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Area: Düsseldorf Innenstadt, NRW, Germany