Yesterday I lucked into a pre-opening press tour of Marazul (pronounced mar-ah-sool), the new Asian-Latino restaurant and rhum bar opening soon at the 2200 complex>"/>
Yesterday I lucked into a pre-opening press tour of Marazul (pronounced mar-ah-sool), the new Asian-Latino restaurant and rhum bar opening soon at the 2200 complex at South Lake Union, upstairs from the new Whole Foods. (Rhum, for the uninitiated, is French-Caribbean for real rum, as opposed to the tasteless stuff we buy in plastic at the liquor store.)
Decked out in warm Caribbean tones, Marazul could be the perfect island-inspired escape for those of us who cringe at the thought of four more months of gray. A floor-to-ceiling water wall and overhead light diffusers meant to evoke palm fronds and banana trees sound cheesy enough, but in practice Marazul might actually be one of these places (has there ever been one?) that will make the restaurant-as-island theme actually work.
I'm perpetually tentative about restaurants that claim to gather the best flavors from all over the world and combine them under the guise of fusion; there's truth to that quip about being a Jack of all trades but a master of none. But Chef Bruce Dillon seems to have an unusually clear vision of how he'll mix Indonesian, Asian, Indian, Cuban, and other Caribbean cuisines. At least, it tasted like a clear vision.
The food at Marazul will reflect cuisines of many of the cultures touched by British rule, which doesn't exactly mean fusion, but a contemporary blend of flavors from all over, with riffs on sushi, kebabs, and Bento boxes. We tried a tuna tartare trio, for example: one was flavored with mango and a sassy mojo sauce; one with a slightly spicy, sweet miso and sesame seeds; and one with crunchy fresh watermelon and jicama. My favorite bite of the day was the salmon ceviche, served in an up glass on ice, spiked with yuzu, scallion, and orange. We finished with an apple and guava pupusa, a featherlight, bite-sized pastry number filled with an ingenious cross between homemade apple pie filling and sweet guava jelly.
Dillon's goal is to create islandy luxury at low cost -- he doesn't want to be (in his words) another overpriced Seattle restaurant. Food prices aren't set yet, so the jury's still out, but I suspect he'll get the first half right. Drinks (made with some 40 something specialty rhums) will run $5-10, with happy hour specials focusing on the guarapo machine, which squeezes juice from fresh sugar cane.
Dillon's up for a good time, too -- rumor has it there will be Sno Cones on the patio in, um, adult flavors come summer.
Marazul, 2200 Westlake Ave.; Website coming soon; Google "Marazul Seattle."