Makoto Okuwa ushers Japanese cuisine into the 21st century at his eponymous eatery, located in the luxurious Bal Harbour Shops. One of Miami’s most accomplished chefs, Okuwa, a master of Edomae-style sushi, reshapes tradition for a savvy audience eager for something new. In a dark, sleek room whose understated elegance jives with the quiet sophistication of the cuisine, Makoto delivers a truly distinct Japanese culinary experience, one built around pristine raw fish, premium Japanese and American beef, soulful skewers cooked over a charcoal robata grill and more.
Chef Makoto Okuwa
Over a career spanning more than 20 years, chef Makoto Okuwa has developed his own take on Japanese cuisine, marrying traditional Edomae-Sushi with modern-day innovation.
Makoto’s introduction to cooking took place in his hometown of Nagoya, Japan. At 15, he began an apprenticeship with master sushi chef Shinichi Takegasa. After a decade of training, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he began working closely with chef Masaharu Morimoto; he would eventually assume the head sushi chef role at Morimoto’s flagship Philadelphia restaurant, as well as his outpost in New York. In 2007, Makoto fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening up his own restaurant, Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge, in Manhattan Beach, California, receiving top praise from Los Angeles Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.
At his namesake restaurant in Bal Harbor, opened in 2011 in partnership with Stephen Starr, Makoto continues to evolve, crafting playful, exquisitely presented dishes that pay tribute to his heritage. “I have a true respect for keeping with Japanese tradition, but also feel it’s important to add my own variations, to appeal to a wide array of palates,” he says. His menu draws inspiration from his colleagues, mentors and Bal Harbor’s sophisticated clientele, in addition to the area’s beautiful ambiance.
In 2016, Makoto opened Makoto Panamá, his second namesake restaurant and his first venture outside the United States. Bringing his distinctive style and flawless execution to this strategic point allowed him to continue his creative development as a chef. The menu here is locally inspired, as well, incorporating native Panamanian ingredients into classic Japanese dishes to create harmonious and exquisite combinations.
In spring 2017, the sprawling Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City became Makoto’s newest stage, as he expands his reach in an exciting new direction, combining the vast culinary traditions of Mexico and Japan.Executive Chef / Owner