Date night in a place named after a fictional Japanese prostitute? Sounds great!
There’s nothing like some tempura and yakitori to make mama’s night.
Mariko’s, which was the working gal’s name, is a recently opened Japanese restaurant by the people behind the 80’s themed bar and restaurant ‘Retrospective’. Mariko’s is nestled away in the trendy, once super-seedy, Keong Saik area, just a few doors down from tapas restaurant Esquina.
When you walk through the doors, you will find yourself in a big funky bar area – perfect for pre-dinner drinks or just liquid dinner altogether. They also serve filling snacks here if you’re looking for an excuse to linger at the bar. Since this was date night, we had made a reservation in the smallish but cozy dining area at the back of the restaurant. For us middle-aged mamas it would have been nice to have the lights more dimmed but hey, nothing that a cocktail can’t fix. And boy, does Mariko’s certainly know how to do a cocktail!
Mama opted for a Shochu Sour, which kind of tasted like a Cosmopolitan with a twist and was really good. The winning cocktail of the evening however was hubby’s (hate when that happens!) Suyo Martini made with Gin, Sake and Cucumber – awesome!
We quickly ordered some steamed Edamame to justify a second round of drinks. The beans could have done with more salt but were served up piping hot and very crispy. When mama decided to move from cocktails to Champagne she was in for a bit of a surprise though, since it was served in an ordinary wine glass. Sorry for being picky but that’s just not right! Part of the pleasure of drinking Champagne is getting a nice chilled flute. The upside however of this mini faux pas is that a wine glass can hold twice the amount of Champagne. Worth thinking about…
Our first dish was ebi gyoza served with chili mayo. Y.U.M. Perfectly fried, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Bravo! We followed this with a plate of mixed vegetable tempura, which was nothing short of excellent! Just enough batter and gently fried to stay crispy. On this particular night they even had a special – Wagyu Carpaccio. Two words that when combined make a dedicated carnivore like this mama jump for joy. The meat wasn’t raw like the traditional version but lightly seared and served on a bed of salad. Again, another hit!
Verdict? Great food, lots (as in loads) of Champagne and definitely worth a visit for a relaxed date night or with a group of friends.
Psst… Keep in mind that Mariko’s is an izakaya and ramen bar, which means they don’t do sushi. Stick to their specialties, yakitori and ramen, and you can’t go wrong!
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12 noon – 1am