A recent treat for my taste buds came as a quite a surprise to me, since I thought I had already tried all the Japanese restaurants in the country. I had accidentally left one out, and it turned out to be one of the best. Maki is a Japanese fusion restaurant located in the Beirut Homes building in Sodeco’s Damascus road. You simply can’t miss it because of its eye-catching metal exterior, reminiscent of bamboo canes with the name Maki engraved in it.
Maki opened its fifth branch in Beirut last year as an addition to its already flourishing branches in Kuwait and Bahrain. This venue that seats 60 people has gathered up a loyal clientele strictly through the word of mouth of its satisfied customers. Its slick and simple décor puts its customers at ease as soon as they are seated, while the staff is absolutely impeccable at paying attention to detail and treating every customer like a king. I especially like how our waiter laid down the table napkin on my lap and prepared my chopsticks for me. As soon as I opened the menu, I was astonished with the wide selection of platters, especially the makis. I was curious as to why some of the specialty makis were named after people, and the manager explained to me that special requests and modifications are made by some loyal customers, and sometimes the result is a delicious new maki which is named after the client and added to the menu. I loved that personal touch and looked forward to taste those unique delicious creations. Although the television displayed many of Maki’s mouthwatering specialties, we were still confused about what to order, but the manager and our waiter happily suggested a few of their star items to us – and boy were they delicious!
We started with the Moda Salad, with torched flamed mixed fresh mushrooms and goat cheese and greens. It was hats down one of the best rocket salads I’ve ever had. Our next platter was the J-Lo Sashimi, thin slices of salmon and white fish with special Japanese sauce, which was so fresh that each bite melted in mouth. The Shrimp Dumplings were spicy, crunchy, delicious and very different from the dumplings I’ve had in other restaurant. The Crunchy Issa Mame Maki is a signature item at Maki and a must-have for anyone who wants to taste something new and extremely enjoyable. It contains Japanese crabsticks, prawn tempura, cucumber and crunchy with a special sweet and spicy sauce. The word for this Issa Maki is: WOW! It was so satisfying it terms of portion and flavor and it is definitely a reason for me to make a return visit. The Amer Mame Maki is another item named after a customer that contains blue fin tuna, avocado, and wild thyme with Maki’s special virgin olive oil mixture. I must admit it was the first time I had tasted something so fresh and original, with a Lebanese-Mediterranean flavor.
The Sandy Maki is a new item on the menu with salmon and green onions; it is absolutely delicious so don’t forget to ask for it. Another new item is the Sezdel Maki. For our hot platter, we ordered the Sesame Chicken, pan-fried with a special teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. It was so delectable that I refused to share it with anyone, and I’m sure you’ll love it too. We ended our meal with the Seafood Noodles, containing a variety of scallops, fish, shrimps, and octopus. I was pleasantly surprised by its richness and the generosity of its ingredients.
The pastry chef Pascal Bizot is French-Floridian and has prepared desserts for the likes of Queen Elizabeth and George Bush. He prepares fresh desserts at Maki Every Thursday through the weekend, so be sure to ask for the mouthwatering Frasier.
I was very happy with the freshness of Maki’s food, its variety and its richness. Its portions are extremely generous and the flavor is simply overwhelming. This restaurant has worked hard and passionately at maintaining the taste and quality of its food while adding its own special twists to it – and that’s what fusion is all about.
Some trivia about Japanese food, courtesy of Maki’s Manager Joe Hajjali:
- Maki’s maki servings constitute of 6 to 8 pieces, contrary to the 3 pieces that are served in some places. The nori (seaweed) roll makes around 6 pieces, so it is fresher and no excess makis are stored in the refrigerator to be served later. This is the way it’s done in Japan.
- At Maki, the salmon is ordered from France and Scotland, the white fish is local, and the Gindara is ordered from Alaska. All orders from Japan have stopped at the time being due to the radiation problems.
- Never consume citrusy fruits before eating fish as it may alter the taste.
- The whiter the ginger, the better and fresher it is. When you eat ginger, it changes the taste palettes; it also speeds up digestion and warms up your body.
- The wasabi’s purpose is to bring out the taste in certain seafood.
Maki is open every day for lunch and dinner with closing hours from 4 to 7 pm. Its kitchen closes at 11:45 pm. It is an ideal venue for families or groups of friends. There is no preferable time to eat there as it is ideally located for a lunch break and the ambiance is great for a delicious dinner that you are your friends will surely enjoy.
Dress code is smart casual or business casual.
Price per person is approximately 50 – 70 USD.
For reservation: +961 1 426 222
If you have been to Maki, please leave a comment on the page, letting us know how your experience was and how you think the venue can improve.