誠 – Makoto
9700 Collins Ave
Bal Harbour, FL 33154
Reviewed & Photographed by: Yan Luk
Food & Service:
Enjoying the finer things in life is a hobby of mine, and I don’t need to look very far when visiting the world famous Bal Harbour Shops in Miami, Florida. Here you’ll find the most famous merchants from around the world, and appropriately, this is where I discovered Makoto Japanese Restaurant as well.
This restaurant is named after Executive Chef and Owner Makoto Okuwa, a very humble and sincere Japanese chef. Modest is exactly what the translation of his name means, so let me boast a little bit for him! Chef Makoto brings more than 20 years of experience to his flagship restaurant, with 10 of those years spent training in Japan. His masterpiece sushi bar not only showcases “art in food”, but also infuses Japanese culture into a modern American tasting experience everyone can enjoy.
Makoto restaurant is situated on the ground floor towards the south end of the Bal Harbour Shops. There are two entrances available; one is inside the shops, where you will find a white board outside the restaurant offering a great selection of fine sakes. You may also enter from the east side through the parking lot, where there is valet service for your convenience.
Upon entering the restaurant, feast your eyes on the dark African wooden floor, as well as a communal dining table topped with grey marble. On top of the 12-seat sushi bar, there are blocks of fresh Himalayan salt where your wasabi and ginger will be placed. I haven’t seen this in many other sushi restaurants.
After some traditional Japanese greetings, we started off with the Black Edamame sprinkled with sea salt. When I compare this to the edamame from other sushi restaurants, there’s no major difference in the taste of the bean itself, but in this version, the sea salt does seem to cling to the edamame longer, making the flavors last and last.
If you are into aphrodisiac foods (and who isn’t?), then you will love Chef Okuwa’s Uni Handroll. This consists of fresh Uni, sweet shrimp and quail egg combined. The right way to taste the freshness and sweetness of Uni is to have it without any wasabi and soy sauce. Taste the sea as it melts in your mouth!
This restaurant is famous for its Robata, which is food grilled over high-heat and low smoke Japanese charcoal. Our server recommended the Japanese eggplant and Seared Scallops wrapped with bacon prepared Robata style, and his suggestion was right on! The eggplants were cooked to perfection, and the still moist scallops skewered like lollipops are displayed crisscrossed on the charcoal. A simple yet elegant presentation that tempts the eyes and satisfies the palate.
Next is the chef’s Special Lobster Tail, lightly fried to the perfect golden hue, then sprinkled with the chef’s unique seasoning. The best size of a lobster is 1 – 1.5 lb, as this is when the meat is at the most tender state. Chef Makoto knows this!
We moved on to the somewhat limited rice and noodle choices available. What is offered however, has been very carefully selected by the chef himself and is quite good. The Kobe Fried Rice is to die for. Finely ground Kobe beef seared rare, is layered on top of a bed of stir fried Japanese sticky rice, followed by a layer of foie gras spiced with shichimi (togarashi), and finally all topped with a fried jidori (chicken) egg. Once it’s mixed, the Kobe beef will be cooked by the heat of the rice and the egg. An amazing dish and one you must try when you visit! After trying many of the cooked items, the ultimate test of a Japanese restaurant is sashimi! This is what decides the moment of truth in Japanese cuisine. It should satisfy all our senses, and Chef Makoto’s does indeed!
At Makoto, fresh fish is delivered three times a week to guarantee the best tasting sushi and sashimi. Their sashimi display is quite exotic, including slices of raw fish deboned from the body and placed artfully on a bed of crystal crush ice. The head, bones and tail of the fish is still intact, all resting on a decorative arrangement of bamboo sticks and leaves. Remember, when preparing fish, the eyes indicate its freshness…the clearer the fresher. Live scallops and orange clam sashimi are also available to order for advanced sushi lovers.
I wish I had room for dessert, and that will be my reason to return again soon. My dining experience couldn’t have been more delightful. From the pleasant hostess, the chic modern ambiance, to the impeccable presentation and high quality of food and service, Makoto is the home of creative sushi and true Japanese hospitality.
There are so many Japanese restaurants to choose from in South Florida! I am thrilled that Makoto has taken Japanese cuisine to the next level…definitely a step above the rest! I would highly recommend Makoto to all sushi lovers who seeks imaginative and extraordinary food!