Makoto ranks with Asian greats

Main-course plates comprise five seafood ($14 to $23.50), three composed meat dishes ($13.50 to $19.50), and a trio of Wagyu steaks. We fished out the seafood hot pot from the first grouping. The dish is described as "prepared in parchment paper," and that very well might be true, but the seafood medley is served atop a flame and cupped in what looks like a cone-shaped coffee filter made of oak tag. It is delicious. A few each of shrimp, jumbo scallops, plump mussels, and squares of grouper come cuddled in a mildly spicy lemongrass-based broth with enoki and shiitake mushrooms and baby purple BetaSweet carrots as teeny as toothpicks.

Kobe beef cooked tableside on a hot "river stone" brings a half-dozen thin strips of heavily marbled, eminently delicate red meat ($19.50). The stone lets off a lot of smoke, and the beef is delectable, but you can get much more bang for your buck (if not quite the heightened texture) via a grilled ten-ounce premium Wagyu skirt steak. Juicy slices of sweetly marinated meat — almost glowing red in color — arrive piled atop one another on a grated binchotan grill with a single coal glowing beneath the grate. A slight smear of wasabi and a swipe into a sweet/sour ginger-soy-daikon dip make the steak seem like something you've never had before — and perhaps better than what you have had. At $30, this is the low end of the Wagyu offerings: An eight-ounce kurosawa Kobe beef filet is $55; the 26-ounce bone-in rib eye goes for $90.

Service is a tale of two visits. The first time around, we lucked out with a well-informed waiter and back-up team that performed so quietly and efficiently we didn't quite realize how great we'd been served until after the meal. Just one faux pas: The check was plunked upon the table along with desserts.

Makoto's crab robata. View our Makoto slide show.
Makoto's crab robata. View our Makoto slide show.

Location Info

Map

Makoto

9700 Collins Ave., 107
Bal Harbour, FL 33154

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: North Dade

Details

Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour; 305-864-8600; makoto-restaurant.com. Lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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Our waiter for the second dinner was clueless concerning the menu, but more troubling was that our entire meal was brought to the table at once: sushi, appetizers, and main courses landed one after the other during a 30-second stretch, like airplanes on an overtaxed runway. When I politely asked why the food arrived in this manner, instead of at least acknowledging the awkwardness of the timing, the waiter simply replied that dishes come out as they finish. The pair of experiences here illustrate how service can make or break a meal.

A flourless chocolate soufflé-style cake, oozing an intoxicating yuzu-miso custard center, came with a ball of vanilla ice cream crusted in crushed cinnamon-sugar crisps and rolled in multicolored rice crackers that looked like large sprinkles. Dabs of whipped saketini foam added the finishing kick. Wow.

The only other desserts offered are a fresh fruit plate (including dragon fruit) and a trio of mochi ice cream disks: green tea, strawberry with vanilla, and sakura (cherry blossom) with chocolate-chocolate chip. The mochi were fresh, but the mini bamboo cradle that held them was dirty. Other missed details included soy sauce stains on a pourer and water spots on glasses. The notoriously fussy Bal Harbour crowd won't be pleased.

The restaurant has been operating for only a couple of months, so it's understandable that some service kinks remain (although a couple of the mistakes are unacceptable). When it comes to creative contemporary Japanese cuisine, however, the competition has nothing on Makoto.

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3 comments
Miami Beach Restaurant
Miami Beach Restaurant

Lee,You are terrific in your reviews. I truly enjoy reading your experiences and most always agree with your assessments! Well done.

Grove Native...
Grove Native...

Hate to break this to you Lee, but Unagi(freshwater eel) comes in frozen(cryovac). I've cooked in several Japanese restaurants... One of my favorite Unagi preparations is called "Unagi Hakozushi," not all sushi places will make it though.(Unagi w/bbq glaze made with sushi rice, pressed into a box) Excellent...!!

Notsurprised
Notsurprised

Lee Klein? Mistakes in articles? Unedited?!?! No way!!

 
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