My husband and I love eating at counters, preferably those right next to open kitchens. Mako fits the bill perfectly, and if it's just the two of us we request counter seats when making the reservation. Mako himself, doing the expediting about two feet away from us, always remembers us with a smile and a friendly word. In the past we've usually done the omakase but this time, Saturday night, we decided to order off the menu and see if we could have just as satisfying an experience.
Started with the assortment of pickled beets, and the grilled tuna and steamed red crab salad. The beets came with a pile of cold string beans with what tasted like a miso-based dressing with a garlicky kick. Tuna and crab were accompanied by half an avocado, lots of sliced cucumber and a ginger vinaigrette. Then we had a Japanese scallop carpaccio with dabs of plum paste on each slice of scallop, wasabi oil and shiso. The scallop dish, while nice enough, was at $13 the only real miss of the evening in terms of price to value ratio. We routinely get better tasting Japanese scallops at our regular sushi places.
After the cold dishes, we had the Peking-style duck which is my favorite dish at Mako. I adore the orange-scented crepes that accompany the crispy duck. Following the duck we tried the whole wok-fried baby halibut, which arrived with two dipping sauces: black bean truffle and ponzu. With the fish we had fried jasmine rice with basil and pine nuts that tasted as if they had been honey roasted. Really liked the rice and it's a good value at $6. The halibut was fine but at $21 maybe I wouldn't get it again. I would probably get a couple of orders of the sublime crispy oysters instead, for my fried food fix.
For dessert we had the always lovely yuzu meringue tart, and a silky butterscotch pot de creme that was really divine. One sake flight for me, no alcohol for my husband that night. Eight dishes total and $145 including tax and tip, which is less than we've spent doing the omakase but we had less alcohol than usual.
My only complaint was that our assigned server (female) was very curt. It's the first time I've had any negative service issues at Mako, but the rest of the people who served, cleared the plates, etc., including the dark-haired host, were very gracious. The restaurant was as crowded as I've ever seen it, with practically every table taken plus three tables outside on the warm evening, but there were no service issues with the timing of the food, refills of my husband's club soda, etc.
225 S. Beverly Drive