Rising Star Chef Makoto Okuwa of Makoto - Biography

Bal Harbour, FL

September 2014

Makoto Okuwa fell in love with sushi at the tender age of three. It all started in Nagoya, Japan, when the toddler was introduced to Sushi Master Makoto Kumazaki. A childhood obsession turned into a successful culinary career.

Okuwa began an apprenticeship at the age of 15 and continued his culinary training under the tutelage of Sushi Master Shinichi Takegasa. After more than a decade of training in Japan, Okuwa moved to Washington, DC to work at the capital’s sushi Mecca, Sushi Taro. While in DC, fate led him to a chance meeting with famed Iron Chef Morimoto. The two were kindred spirits and Okuwa soon became executive sushi chef at Morimoto’s New York and Philadelphia restaurants—not to mention Morimoto’s right hand man on the Food Network’s original Iron Chef show. In 2006, Okuwa was named a StarChefs.com New York Rising Star.

In 2007, Okuwa decided to branch out on his own and opened Pearl Sushi Restaurant and Champagne Lounge in Del Mar, California. The restaurant was short-lived, burning in the Southern California fires just weeks after opening. Despite the setback, Okuwa was undeterred. In the summer of 2009, he opened Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge in Manhattan Beach.

Okuwa’s cuisine at Sashi is a blend of tradition and innovation, and Japanese and American cuisines. Always looking to please his customers and still push the boundaries of cuisine, Okuwa finds new ways to marry traditional flavors with modern techniques. His extensive training in Edomae sushi is not lost, just evolved to serve the American palate.

In 2011, Makoto opened a new namesake restaurant Makoto in Bal Harbor, where continues to evolve his style of crafting playful, exquisitely presented dishes which pay tribute to Japanese tradition. In his menu creations, he continues to draw inspiration from his colleagues, mentors, and Bal Harbor’s well-traveled, sophisticated clientele, in addition to the restaurant’s beautiful ambiance.