Takoyaki and the Japanese Curry Burrito Bento at Maru

I was more excited by the news of the opening of Maru Global than any other restaurant opening this winter; the prospect of fresh takoyaki in Center City made me squeal with joy.  The fried, octopus dough balls are one of my favorite foods. Since its shaky opening (they were open, then they weren’t, then they still weren’t…) the small establishment has been evolving and attempting to work out the kinks.

Inside, Maru has a few small tables, an open kitchen, and a selection of Japanese candy and drinks to go along with the Japanese menu. Just don’t expect any sushi. Fun, Japanese street food is served, with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients and a playful take on fusion flavors. Maru is also able to make accommodations for vegan diets and food allergies.

Surprisingly it was not the takoyaki that I was most taken with, it was actually the Curry Burrito Bento.

The Japanese Burrito Bento Box ($9.99) comes with the curry burrito, a small house salad, a side dish of the day, a dessert takoyaki, a soda, and a “Japanese Candy Surprise”.  The side dish of the day that came with my order was a healthy whole grains salad topped with a potent basil coulis that I would have loved more of.

The curry burrito is inventive and nicely put together.  Japanese curry is unique, it has a sweetness to it.  Any curryphobes should give it a try before ruling it out. The curry inside the burrito had chunks of beef and potato along with a lot of rice.

Not to ruin the surprise, but the accompanying candy is a piece of Japanese fruit chew. The dessert takoyaki is the chocolate chip version, which understandably tasted like gooey chocolate chip pancake balls. The whole bento combo is a great balanced lunch in an easy to transport bento box.

The burrito is also available on its own for $6.99.

Or you could order the Don mono curry over rice bowl, this could end up being a better deal than getting the solo burrito- more curry for your buck in the bowl.

I had mixed opinions about some of the other side dishes offered. I had high hopes for the octopus salad, that was a mistake. The $3 price tag should have tipped me off… this octopus did not taste fresh at all, and the shreds of carrot, daikon, and cucumber had no hint of the Ponzu sauce it claimed to come with. The hand cut french fries and spicy mayo, however, tasted great.  I also enjoyed the creamy potato salad, though I am not quite sure where the Japanese influence comes in with that.

Along with the standard octopus balls, Maru has some appealing very non-traditional takoyaki options.

Unfortunately, after many attempts, I have not been able to try the traditional octopus takoyaki- Maru has been out of octopus every time I have visited. Boo! Shrimp worked as a decent substitute. I enjoyed pretty much all of the creative flavor concepts: sweet and sour miso, spicy shrimp, the pizza with the awesome basil coulis again, and I even liked the combo of flavors in the Philly cheesesteak version. Unfortunately, the texture of the balls was not quite spot on. I had requested for the takoyaki to stay on the grill longer, but the outer crispness and inner molteness that normally drives me wild was not there. However, a later visit showed some improvement and a move towards nailing the texture element. I was told this could be because the grill is becoming more “seasoned” with use, which makes sense. So, perhaps the takoyaki of my dreams will be available at Maru soon.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Japanese curry? In a burrito? Brilliant!
  • Unique Japanese street food that you can’t really get anywhere else
  • Finally, a takoyaki joint in Philly!
  • Vegan options

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • They constantly run out of octopus
  • The takoyaki has not yet been perfected
  • Closed Mondays

Maru, 255 S 10th St (btw Locust and Spruce St), 267-273-0567



  • A beefy, potato-y, curry filled burrito?! Ingenious!

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    I dropped by here today, with a co-worker, for a quick lunch. I did the burrito and the chicken takoyaki. The burrito, while tasty, wasn’t that filling, and for the price could use a bit (more?) of meat. I didn’t detect any in mine, really.

    Worth noting..they have Sprecher Root Beer. precher is one of my favorite breweries, and I’ve never wanted to splurge on shipping Root Beer…I mean..what if it sucked. But it didn’t. I was delicious, and has the one thing most other root beers lack…a yummy aftertaste.

    I’d go back, and try some of the other menu items, for sure, though.

  • A few things:
    - Potato is an underappreciated burrito ingredient.
    - I don’t know if it’s Yoshoku or not, but I’ve run into a few Japense potato salads. I know a place that does a great one with spicy fish roe mixed in. It can be kinda addictive if done with enough MSG-mayo.
    - Is that curry bowl before or after?
    - You need to bite the bullet and get one of those cornballer looking Takoyaki machines. Or at least a takoyaki puppy tee.

  • @ sfg did you have just the burrito? I thought the whole bento with the burrito and sides together was a good size

    @steve, before or after what? also, love the takoyaki gear, very tempted to purchase a shirt

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    I had the chicken takoyaki in addition to the burrito. Together, they made for a pretty solid meal, but at $13, it’s a bit more than I like to spend on lunch.

    I forget why, now, but there was something that turned me off of ordering the bento box.

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    So it’s outer crispness and inner molteness that drive you wild? I’ll keep that in mind and adjust myself accordingly.

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