I had walked past this Japanese Dining Bar by Mari 「まり」 several times this week but as it was quite inconspicuous, plus the door was closed and you can’t really peek inside, I did not pay much attention to it and whether they serve any food during the lunch hour. Well, my curiosity finally got the better of me and I stopped to take a look…
The entrance to Mari 「まり」 as you can see from the photo, has a sliding door which is typical of many traditional eating establishments in Japan. There is a menu board at the entrance which states they only serve curry for lunch.
I stepped in to find a cosy little bar with a motherly figure behind the counter. There is limited seating with only 3 tables which seat 2 people each. You can also sit at the bar counter or if all seats have been occupied, there is one more table for two which is located just outside the entrance.
The interior looks and feels like those small family-run izakaya type places which are found in Japan, with strains of Japanese music playing in the background.
Upon further scrutinization of the lunch menu which was in both Japanese and English, all items were indeed centred around Japanese Curry but with different variations. The one which instantly caught my eye was the Crab Cream Croquette Curry (カニクリームコロッケカレー) as I’m a huge fan of crab cream croquette and will always buy it when I go to Japan!
I signalled to the motherly figure behind the bar counter, who looked Japanese but I wasn’t 100% certain and was contemplating whether to order in English or Japanese. The funny thing was that I ended up pointing at the menu instead and she repeated my order back to me in Japanese “カニクリームコロッケカレー” (kani kurimu korokke karee), to which I replied “はい” (hai, meaning yes). (^_^;)
I was served with some iced “roasted” tea and was surprised when this was placed on my table (see photo) and thus wondered if the tea was free flow (but I usually don’t drink that much during lunch!).
Salad topped with a fragrant, creamy sesame dressing was served as part of the meal.
My crab cream croquette curry rice finally arrived and it was really good!! The only grumble I have is that there was only one croquette, which wasn’t enough to satisfy my tastebuds!! :p
When you cut the croquette in half, the cream will start to ooze out and it tasted very much like some of the best croquettes which I had previously eaten in Japan. The curry was similar to a home-cooked meal and what a typical Japanese mother will cook for her children at home. There were small chunks of potato and carrot in it and you can feel the motherly love that went into the dish. Overall, it made me reminiscent of Japan…
If you intend to dine here for lunch, do note that the seats fill up rather quickly and the place is full by 12:15pm. There were a few more people who tried to dine here but left as there were no available seats and the lady apologised to them in Japanese. Most of the customers seem to be male Japanese office workers who probably miss their mum’s cooking. Whilst I was enjoying my authentic Japanese curry, I could hear the other customers placing their food orders in Japanese. I must admit that I felt a little out of place there after receiving a few questioning stares (not sure if it was because I’m non-Japanese or because I’m of the opposite gender?).
Regardless, if I happen to be in the area again, I will definitely patronise this place and try the other options like the Fried Oyster Curry and perhaps ask if I can add on a crab cream croquette or two! （⌒▽⌒）
Japanese Dining Bar by Mari 「まり」
15 North Canal Road, #01-01, Singapore 048827.
Tel: +65 65354327
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00~14:00, 18:00~23:00
Closed on Sat, Sun and Public Holidays.