The latest talk of the town is Maki Gourmet, a colorful new Japanese restaurant which just opened on the main street of Achrafieh between the Sofil Center and Diwan El Sultan. Maki Gourmet welcomes you into a three-level concept restaurant. The fresh white space is very inviting with various details adding to it's pop art'ish style. The colored chairs that come in different shapes and sizes, the long bar, the original art work on the walls and so much more details, will keep you busy through out your meal.
The first impression is just awesome! You enter into a relaxing world of colors set on a calm white background: A pop art sensational space. Here's were the feeling that Andy Warhol walked in and added his touch to this modern space. Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a key figure in Pop Art, an art movement that emerged in America and elsewhere in the 1950s to become prominent over the next two decades.
Moving around the place, writings on the walls make you feel like you are walking through an art gallery somewhere around New York City. The design concept is original, using the word Maki in different fun context... as well as art work with faces of stars like Tom Cruise, Sophia Lauren, Kate Moss... changing their names around to adapt to the concept. I liked it:
- Everything you see owe to sushi (Sushia Loren)
- Mirror mirror on the wall who has the best maki of them all
- Su.shi.li.ze (socialize over sushi)
- Nothing comes between me and my sushi (Brooke Sushields)
- Deep down I am very supersushial
- I'm gonna make him a sushi offer he can't refuse (Thon Cruise)
The menu is unique. You must see it to understand what I mean. It's mix of bright colors and clear photos that seem to have a magical touch - it activates all your senses to the extent you want to order everything. If you think you're on a diet, forget it, your gaurds will be weakened in an instant making you eat everything without a blink of guilt.
The menu wide choice of possibilities:
Appetizers, Salads, Tartar, Maki Roquette, Salmon Roll, Tobiko, Dragon, Tiger, Crystal Maki, Crystal Red, Green Sesame Roll, Avocado Rolls, The Flakes, Maki Omelette, California, The Classics, Hoso Maki, Temaki, Sushi, Sashimi, Tataki, Yakitori, Chirashi, Desserts, Maki Nutella
The menu add-ons and specials:
7 days Chez Gourmet, Lunch Menu, Set Menu, Beverages, Wines, Ring Maki Home
- Crispy Salmon Salad (Marinated Salmon, Tougarashi, Tempura)
- Salmon Cheese (Salmon, Rocket Leaves, Cheese)
- Dancing Eel (Crab, Eel, Avocado, Masago, Sesame)
- Shrimp Tempura (Cucumber, Avocado, Coriander, Mint)
- Spicy Chicken (Cucumber, Avocado, Coriander, Mint, Spicy Sauce)
- Salmon Tartar Sushi
- Grilled Eel Sushi
- Salmon Yakitori
- Crispy Crazy (Crab, Carrot, Cucumber, Tougarashi)
- Lion King (Shrimps, Crab, Tobiko, Mango, Avocado)
What a perfect and innovative pop art decoration:
- Pantone colors going from bright pink, transparent violet to fluorescent yellow passing by strong green transport you into another world
- Funny Andy Warhol-like Japanese style posters of famous figures cover the walls. You will recognize: Sushia Loren, Thon Cruise, Prawn Connery, Nutella Versace, Maki Tyson and Cake Moss
- A white relaxing and simple overall finish
- White tables surrounded by chairs from different designers and styles
- The pink chopsticks cover talks to you:" I'm only happy if you break me"
The food: I was not impressed...
- After looking at this awesome menu, you'll get disappointment when the actual thing is served: Lighter colors, different decoration, less perfectly wrapped pieces all presented in an unappetizing manner compared to the design menu. I will add something here and remind restaurant owners that the picture should reflect reality
- The rice is good, adequately cooked and tastes nice, wrapping fresh tasty ingredients
- The Tiger order, shown on a full page as a restaurant special is unfortunately tasteless!
- The desserts are to be reconsidered. The rice is too sticky, the crepe wrap is too thick and the makis miss something, maybe a sweet dip - just like soy sauce served with regular sushi.
In brief, the food needs some fine tuning. Better wrapping, more condensation of the pieces and more aromas.
- A Nutella dedicated dessert page. I loved the introduction of this new idea
- The place is great
- Ramzi, the manager is very welcoming, trying his best to make the customers experience a success
- The menu choices is diverse and complete
Important things to fix:
- Add salmon skin to the menu. It's my favorite!
- Crispy salmon salad is better served colder. Yes very cold.
- Clean the plates decoration before sending them to the tables - presentation is key
- Deliver what the image shows: salmon cheese is tasty but on the picture it is shown with rocket and mint leaves, unless the waitress took the order wrong. What we got was something bland in taste and unappetizing look
- Change the huge ashtrays with cigarettes support. Smoking is not allowed in! I think people should change the whole concept of this circular bulky thing - maybe introduce a new item on the table to be used to throw dirt and napkins in... since the Gourmet Maki has bright lamps on the tables, maybe a small bowl with the same color can be placed. It's just a thought.
- Since the restaurant is white. More attention on cleanliness should be taken into account. Pay attention...
"I would have served the orders on several different plates to make the pieces look more appetizing. All we ordered, which was around $80 worth of food was served on one square plate making it look very cheap"
The final verdict:
The place is extraordinary. A really unique concept never seen before in Lebanon. The colors, the ambiance, the interior design are all out of this world, making you forget all the rest, but such a welcome deserves a perfect ending. Such a welcome makes you expect the best... The food can be better and the staff needs to focus more on details that make all the difference, especially with all the harsh competition out there.
Good Luck guys, I think you're on to something great!
Maki Gourmet description on their website:
Maki Gourmet lights up the streets of Ashrafieh with its innovative sushi, pop vibes and upbeat mood. At Maki G, you are invited to taste innovative Japanese food overseen by the master chefs of Buddha Bar. Every day is a different experience at Maki G, as the restaurant’s 7 Days Chez Gourmet program offers a variety that suits all tastes at affordable prices. You may want to devour mouthwatering desserts for half the price on Sweet Monday, eat all you can on Open Wednesday, or enjoy a ladies’ night out on Lipstick Thursday; of course, all in the company of Sushia Loren, Thon Cruise, Maki Tyson, Nutella Versace, Prawn Connery and Cake Mousse – pun intended. Maki G screams posh in every way, defying the same-old traditional “expensive” Japanese restaurants. It is the place in which B-City’s gliterattis are spotted milling and swilling, whilst being unable to resist the venue’s one-and-only Maki Nutella that leaves you wanting more sans the guilt trip. Be it a business lunch or dinner date, Maki G is the perfect place to go and sushilize. Whether you are coming to have a meal with loved ones, or a Martini at the bar, everything about the place is bound to glam up your experience. Spread among three stories, the eclectic decor is highlighted by dim neon lights, frequent nods to pop art and playful notes (think hopscotch on the floors or snakes and ladders on the wall), making it a place that does not take itself too seriously.