Philadelphia, PA 19107
I had never eaten Takoyaki, but I had heard good things about Maru Global, so I jumped at the chance to give it a try. I am a HUGE street food fan, and the interior of this place really gives it that "street food feel."
I had the opportunity to sample the "Tako" yaki first, with sirloin, chopped scallion and red ginger topped with dried bonito flakes, dried seaweed, and a sweet sauce. The best part (other than the $3.25 for 6 price tag) is the way that the bonito flakes rehydrate on top of the hot-off-the-pan dough balls. Check out the video, it's pretty amazing.
The BBQ octopus with cilantro, jalapeno, and caramelized onions was a sweet, smoky ball that was sadly lacking in octopus. I would have loved some tentacle to add some thicker, more chewy texture. The maru balls overall were good, and I loved the outside, but sadly, seventy five percent of them came out with the inside completely raw. I am sure that it is difficult to get them cooked throughout, but if your specialty is maru balls, and you are called Maru Global, it's pretty important that you ensure that those little spheres are properly cooked, even perfected.
I was excited to see Philly cheesesteak balls on the menu, and they were quite good, but once again, instead of a burst of cheese on the inside, it was raw liquid dough. Admittedly, they were having some kitchen problems, as they claimed the cook was hit by a car last night, but even so... The dough was the consistency of crepe batter; it was an eggy, floury, taste that took over, leaving me desiring that non-existent cheesy center even more.
The French fries were decent. Not as crispy as I would have liked, nor as thin, but the spicy Kewpie (I believe) mayo was addictive. I have a real weak spot for spicy Japanese mayo.
Overall, it was pretty good, a unique experience, made better by the good company. I would definitely come back, and if they got the cooking method nearly perfected, I might have a real problem with this place. I love the idea of cheap street snacks, but the execution was lacking.