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Jan 29, 2010 09:47 AM

Mako-- Japanese for DON'T GO HERE? Candidate for worst below average meal ever.

Mako. It all started with a decent sushi meal at Kiyokawa. A person overheard me talking about seafood and sushi places and asked if I'd been to Mako. He told me that it is better than all the places I'd mentioned (Mori, Kiriko, Yasuda, Nobu). I had my doubts but I thought I should finally go. Rounded up about 6 diners and we headed to Beverly Drive.

We were seated immediately but then waited for ten minutes for the menus. We were never asked if we wanted something to drink (throughout the meal). We had plans for sake but we all were feeling a bit reluctant at this point. So we ordered their wonton soup ($8). Eight dollars each wasted. Tasted like a typical soy ramen broth from a powder. Unfortunately we'd already ordered more. No sake still. The soup of one of my friend's was brought and dropped on the table so that 1/5th of it spilled over onto the lower plate. A salad of calamari was brought next on put on someone's spoon so that it wasn't flat on the table. The waiter didn't care. He went to get us our cooked oysters (one of two items that was slightly enjoyable over the evening) and brought it to the table and put it on the crack of the table so that it too was leaning and not flat. I've never had this particular problem anywhere at a restaurant. Then an asian chicken salad ordered by one of our less adventurous friends. Decent. Quail with orange sauce. Purely disgusting. Tasted like squirrel cooked at panda express, if you can imagine that. Calamari salad with limp greens (every dish came this way, pretty much). Nothing to write home about. At this point we were angry. No sake still. We wanted out. But more was to come. Duck dumplings that had a flat taste, no subtlety. We were trying to enjoy them b/c they were the best thing to come out but this too was so below average. Was this a cafeteria dressed up as a restaurant?
Had a lobster with rice. Decent. We had to order two b/c it was the only item that had something we could feel nourished by. Nothing great but at least not bad. It has the lobster broth in there and a bit of rice. We were really hungry and frustrated. We'd ordered other items as well, all with regret. There is no need to elaborate.

I asked for the check and paid it joylessly. We all went went back to my place and had wine, baguettes and a bunch of cheeses to make up for having wasted our time at Mako. Ridiculous in every way.

The head chef was making the rounds, going from table to table to see his regulars, hearing praises. He didn't come to us though.

225 S. Beverly Dr. (bet. Charleville Blvd. & Gregory Way) Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: 310-288-8338
Fax: 288-0398

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  1. This is why I always search chowhound before I go to a restaurant.

    14 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      I thought about that too, so I did a quick search...and the funny thing is that Mako is recommended by CHs here. I've never been, so I can't speak to it personally. But I'd be pretty miffed if I had received the kind of service epop

      1. re: ns1

        Which is the only reason I posted, NS1. Mako has received positive reviews here, as OCAnn reports.

        1. re: epop


          insert foot in mouth.

          however, that is terrible. sorry for your loss.

          wait, that's not quite right, but you get the idea.

          1. re: ns1

            You're not so off -- for people like me a bad meal is a ruined evening, and that leads to a form of mourning.

            1. re: epop

              You must be wearing out your black wardrobe... ;-D>

              1. re: Servorg

                But I've been to Mori, Zo and Kiriko several times each this month. Therefore not too much black lately. Thx for the laugh, Servorg.

                As for sushi at Mako, no, never. The person told me their fusion dishes are better than Nobu. I don't get it. There was nothing even close to stellar that we ordered. We left hungry, angry and dumbfounded.

                1. re: epop

                  Mako in beverly hills is nothing like a sushi bar, it's more in the vein of chaya brasserie, or chaya whatever, or chinois on main (in fact, mako of the eponymous mako was chef at chinois back in the late 80s and early 90s).

                  anyhow, i don't see how someone can compare zo or even mori, et al, to mako.

                  when your first started your post, i thought you were going to be talkinga bout Mako the sushi bar in Weller court in downtown la.

                  1. re: kevin

                    The Mako in the food court might be better!

                    btw, I had a truly great meal at Chaya downtown last month.

                    1. re: kevin

                      I agree w/ Kevin - this is more 1990s-style "California cuisine" than sushi. I went once a couple years ago and had a good, if a little pricey, meal, and didn't remember anything about sushi or even Japanese food. Obviously your evening was off on the wrong foot, but I'd personally go back to this place again if I wanted a non-Italian "nice" meal in that So. Beverly stretch. Sounds like a combination of unrealistic expectations (a sushi extravaganza) plus a bit of mis-ordering (not your fault, obviously!) plus some MIA sake. And if my drink's late by a couple courses, believe me, I just stand up (if necessary), flag down the nearest employee, and put in a clear request! Never fails.

                      1. re: cant talk...eating

                        As stated twice above, no expectation of sushi. Only fusion Asian.

                        I never ordered the sake, as I said above. We could tell the meal was going to be bad and didn't order any more stuff that would add to the bill. They never asked us if we wanted a drink. Maybe my post was convoluted but that's all in the OP.

                2. re: epop

                  "for people like me a bad meal is a ruined evening"

                  sign of a true foodie. amen.

                    1. re: epop

                      I can't remember, have you eaten at Animal on Fairfax? If you did what did you think?

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Not yet but I really want to. Should I?

          2. Sorry to hear about your horrid experience at Mako. Not to counter your claim or to praise Mako, but I did enjoy a few of their bento boxes this past New Year's Eve. Just about everything in the boxes was enjoyed by us. I mentioned this a few weeks ago in an OP inquiry on osechi:


            I think the couple of things that were below expectation were the cookies and brownies - seemed like stuff straight out of a box from Smart & Final. And now that you mention it, the duck dumplings didn't wow me either. The filling was flat on flavor - it could have been just about any unnamed protein in the filling. I was expecting something unctuous, but nothing hit my palate. Duck can be like that - the skin is where the action is. The actual meat can be as boring as cardboard.

            Unlike your experience, the produce we had was very fresh. The various greens were full and flavorful - they had used various produce items in their makizushi as a first course - think salad makizushi. In fact, I was surprised to find strawberries and cherries among the fresh fresh fruit in the dessert assortment. "How could they offer us these out-of-season fruits when it's almost January?", was my first impression. But the flavor of these two items did deliver as well. So my assumption was that he did take a fair amount of pride in sourcing his produce.

            The "sushi expert" who chumped you was obviously talking out of his arse. I just don't see a fusiony place like Mako going head-to-head with any of those well-reputed places and coming out on top.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              "The "sushi expert" who chumped you was obviously talking out of his arse. I just don't see a fusiony place like Mako going head-to-head with any of those well-reputed places and coming out on top."

              In 4 visits we have never ordered sushi there...and we have had all stellar meals. The service is not warm and fuzzy normally, but it's efficient...which is my idea of great service.

              1. re: Servorg

                comparing mako to say sushi zo.

                is like apples and oranges.

                nuff said.

                yeah, that person does not sound like a suhi expert to me, consdiering that the mako in bh does not serve sushi anyhow. to being with, ( there may be a token sashimi plate there though, but it's not a sushi restaurant nor a traditional japanese restaurant by any means).

                1. re: kevin

                  The person comparing Mako overheard me talking about my average meal at Bouchon. That got us into a talking about various restaurants and he was stunned that I hadn't been to Mako. I am stunned that he has been there more than once.

                  1. re: epop

                    i will say this.

                    going back close to ten years now, i had a truly memorable whole main lobster in coconut saffron curry sauce, that was pure bliss. and the sauce was addictive as crack but alas that is no more, i think they served within the first year of openinghte restaurant and then no more. suffice to say, i went back once after but then no more esp since they no longer carried that dish.

            2. I'm very surprised about your bad meal. I've been to Mako several times and have never had a bad meal. As people have said, it is not a sushi restaurant, but it sounds like you ordered fusion dishes, which are usually quite good. I have to hope it was just a terrible night, not a sign of the restaurant going downhill.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jwsel

                I had a great experience at Mako. The service and food was wonderful. We loved the small plates and got to taste a lot of different things. Absolutely no complaint. I guess any restaurant can have an off night. Sometimes, a well written and courteous letter to the establishment telling them of your experience can get you a free meal.

              2. I am curious why you never worked up the gumption to ask for sake, even though you were never offered to see what drinks you wanted?

                I mean, honestly, if you wanted sake, why not just ask?

                Worse thing the server could do is say, "NO" (which in itself would be almost unbelievable and unheard of), in which case you would be left in the same circumstance as if you never asked.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I didn't ask b/c I thought it was funny that they didn't ask. By the time they started plunking the dishes on the table and spilling things I was feeling like I wanted to limit the bill. I would have walked out but it was a birthday celebration. For a friend I tried waiting it out.

                  Simply awful meal. Maybe just fine for people from Chicago or Kansas who haven't had better. But not in LA, where there are probably 500 better places with this type of food.

                2. I know this is a long time ago, but I wanted to point out that the Mako you were recommended to go to is MAKO SUSHI in Little Tokyo, next to the Double Tree Hotel. That is the place that Japanese go to, and they do indeed have the best sushi on the west coast. I would say infinitely better than any of the invitation only spots, urasawa, matsuhisa, Shunji, INO in san fran, etc.

                  The spot on Beverly closed, and was disgusting. It was also a name rip-off.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: Sakura_N

                    "It was also a name rip-off."

                    Strange that original owners didn't sue.
                    I remember how fast "Piccolo Cipriani" in Venice (CA...) turned into "Piccolo" under pressure from the owners of the "Mr.C" franchise.

                    1. re: Sakura_N

                      Name rip-off? That was the name of the chef. He was formerly executive chef of Spago's for 4 years, then executive chef at Chinois for 6 years. What the fuck does he know?!

                      1. re: foodiemahoodie

                        "What the fuck does he know?!"

                        Good point! I'll suggest my uncle Moishe McDonalds to open a burger joint.

                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                          If a restaurant called Mako has been serving sushi for 20+ years, and is one of the best known restaurants in the city, naming your own spot the same thing is most certainly disingenuous and purposely confusing. Under trademark law, even without the registration, the original Mako would win in a heartbeat as the above post makes clear - the 2nd Mako was both trading on his reputation, and creating confusion in the public's mind.

                          1. re: Sakura_N

                            If only that were true. Mako Sushi vs Mako?

                            To be honest I'd barely heard of Mako Sushi and I know this town pretty well. One of the best known? I apologize for my ignorance, but it doesn't come up on any sushi Nazi radar, or Top 10 list.

                            Also, the Mako of Mako on Beverly had a much more impressive culinary CV. Hard to say he was trying to capitalize off the enormous success of Mako Sushi. A place that doesn't seem to pop up as anybody's favorite, despite your insistence that it is "infinitely" (which is a lot!) better than Urasawa, or Shunji. Which, if your metrics are anywhere close to being "balls on accurate" - that would easily make Mako Sushi the best sushi restaurant in the world.

                            "Purposely confusing"...? I really doubt it. I wonder if he ever heard of the other restaurant.

                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                              Mako Tanaka is a very good chef. Since it is his first name, since his cred was at Spago, etc., I doubt he opened in Beverly Hills, not far from Spago, with any thoughts of who or what may be happening in the sushi world DTLA.
                              But most importantly, why is this subject even being brought up now - Mako is doing his sushi thing down in RPV?

                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                My family used to go to the Weller Court regularly (to eat, among other things) in the 1980's and 90's, and they like sushi. I've never heard of the place.

                                1. re: paranoidgarliclover

                                  To be fair, I've eaten twice at Mako Sushi in Weller Court. This was back in 2012-ish - Omakase on both visits. It was okay on the first visit, and pretty good on the next visit. Nothing bad, but nothing mind-blowing, either. Decent neta, OK shari, nice service. I just never felt the need to get on the roof and proclaim these visits on Chowhound to anyone who will listen.

                                  I'm sure there are TONS of "meh" places we chowhounds try out every month, and yet never type a single word about on this site.

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    Oh, I don't doubt the place exists. I was just, er, CONFUSED about the proclamation that it was one of the best-known restaurants in the city....

                                2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                  Was the "impressive culinary CV" the reason they served such sushi staples as "duck potstickers", "wagyu meatballs", "Scallop mushroom ravioli", "wonton Miso soup, etc.?

                                  Seems like this was "con-fusion" cuisine.

                                  1. re: Sakura_N

                                    I don't understand your question. Can you ratchet up some sense to it? Then I'd be happy to respond.

                                    I don't know why anyone could have an issue with that kind of food. It's fusion Maybe your version of fusion is something different. It ain't traditional, yah know.

                                    Duck potstickers sound great. As does that scallop mushroom ravioli. (I'd probably try the meatballs too). Now I'm missing the place.

                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                      Asian fusion cuisine by definition, is a mess. All food is "fusion". Nothing is stagnant and each chef brings their own ideas and innovations to it. Even supposed "traditional" places. When I see the words "fusion", I run in the opposite direction.

                                      Faux Mako made a mess of his flavors, textures and to be frank, the menu selections sounds more like what one would receive as poorly conceived wedding or bar mitzvah appetizers, than what belongs in a fine dining establishment. I'm open to being wrong but it seems like "reality" agreed with me. Hence the restaurant's failure.

                                      1. re: Sakura_N

                                        Mako was well-reviewed and well-regarded. It got caught in the "Great Recession" which took down a lot of restaurants. Gayot - whom I trust more than you - gave it 15/20 which is solid. (note they have no rating of the "infinitely" superior Mako Sushi, but the places you deem inferior are up there and rated highly).

                                        You assessment of Asian fusion is a bit contradictory. It's all fusion and then you want to run when you see the word. Chinois was a good example of fusion and it's one of L.A's most venerable restaurants.

                                        Your last paragraph is just an attack without reference - I'm thinking that this reads like there might be some kind of personal component in your rage.

                                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                          Not sure where the "rage" is.

                                          I haven't made any contradictory statements. When an establishment calls themselves "fusion", I assume they are trying to "follow" a trend vs leading it. My tastebuds have proven this correct over the years.

                                          Japan's best Izakaya don't use the word fusion although that's exactly what their food consists of. It's like calling something "authentic" - it just means that you don't know what you're doing.

                                          Never met the Mako we're discussing so nothing personal outside of my being a person.

                                          At to Chinois...I will agree that those Lettuce Wraps with Chicken were truly an innovation of Mr. Wolfgang. The fact that they are available in every Chinese restaurant in the world for the past 1500 years is not wholly relevant. Should I cover some of his other menu items like those delicious ribs in honey soy sauce? Or vegetable fried rice? lol

                                          1. re: Sakura_N

                                            Skip the lettuce wraps. The fried oysters in creamy curry sauce, with caviar - comes to mind.

                                            But you're assertion that Mako was trying to capitalizes on the little-known or sushi joint still strikes me as pretty far-fetched.