Tucked away at the end of a corridor that leads from the street to the back of a nondescript building in Hiroshima’s nightlife district, Mau reveals itself to be a stylishly traditional Washoku restaurant.
While the food is definitely of high calibre and the prices put it the upper-mid range category, MAU is quite relaxed and is equally a candidate for light dining accompanied by some drinks as it is for a special Washoku dinner treat. Although chef Hanbusa who single-handedly runs the kitchen speaks limited English, he is very amiable and welcoming.
MAU takes particular pride in its sashimi and it should be said at the outset that the somewhat unusual ordering system means that those who don’t find raw fish appealing should look for alternative washoku restaurants in the area (nearby Youin perhaps, or, for more of an izakaya vibe, MICKS, a few doors down). You are probably aware of the o-tooshi system in operation at most Japanese eateries, where diners are served a “mandatory appetizer”, in lieu of a table charge. At MAU, each customer is served a three appetizers of the day, presented in an elaborate wrought iron objet, followed by a gorgeous selection of sashimi fresh from market and served on a bed of crushed ice. This comes at a charge of ¥1800 per customer.
On my visit, I have to confess that once I had finished this part of the meal, along with a couple of drinks, I was already feeling quite full and it did put a limit on what I was able to consider ordering from the a la carte menu. That said, it was delicious and sashimi lovers are unlikely to complain.
Chef’s o-makase course meals are available for ¥4500, ¥6500 and ¥8500 and all include the appetizer and sashimi staters shown above. The a la carte menu contains a selection of regular dishes as well as seasonal specialities. We sampled a delicious agedashi-dofu with ichijiku figs, dashi-maki-tamago rolled egg omlette with demi-glace sauce, a beautiful vegetable gelée with uni sea urchin and sanma sashimi.
The regular menu is currently being translated and there are often plates containing seasonal ingredients and dishes displayed along the top of the counter o-banzai style which can help as props in the performance art of non-verbal ordering.
For couples or group diners, Chef Hanabusa makes a point of serving the food ordered in a way that is as easy to share as possible, which is very welcome, especially if one’s chopstick skills are still being honed.
I very much enjoyed sitting at the counter and chatting with chef Hanabusa, but there area also two private rooms equipped with horigotatsu sunken floors below the low Japanese style tables that are a godsend for those not accustomed to sitting on the floor for extended periods of time. Smoking seems to be permitted in the restaurant, so those sensitive to tobacco smoke might prefer one of the private rooms rather than counter seating.
MAU serves well poured beers and other drinks, as well as a very good selection of Japanese sake, both from local breweries and from around Japan. The ¥780 3 glass Dassai sampler set is excellent value and will complement much of the food on the menu and Chef Hanabusa is happy to make further recommendations.
Choosing your own sake glass from MAU’s colorful selection of beautiful glasses is also a nice touch.
Address: 1F Nakashinchi Bldg, 4-3 Nagarekawa-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi
To find MAU
1. Look for the Nakashinchi neon sign
2. Look for the white MAU sign on the street
3. Enter the Nakashinchi Building
4. Walk until you hit the Japanese garden style path that will take into MAU.