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Makino Japanese Seafood Buffet

April 1, 2013

My dad has a friend and former co-worker who has become a restaurateur.  The restaurant he owns is one of my husband’s favorite restaurants.  From time to time, as he discovers new restaurants, he’ll call up my parents and invite them to meet him at a new place, or he’ll call them up and tell them about a new place that he’s discovered that he thinks they would like and they should try out.  So far, all of his recommendations have been spot on, restaurants with really good food (mainly Japanese) that is really reasonable in price as well.


A few weeks back, my dad’s friend called him up and told him about a Japanese seafood and sushi buffet in Irvine, nearby John Wayne Airport that he recently took his entire family to for New Year’s.  He thought my parents might want to check it out because he figured they’d enjoy it.  This restaurant was Makino Gourmet Sushi & Seafood buffet located less than a mile from the airport.  Having recently opened in 2012 in Irvine, Makino actually began in Las Vegas back in 1999.  As the brainchild of sushi chef Kaku Makino, who began his restaurant career by opening up the wildly popular all you can eat sushi restaurant Todai in Santa Monica, followed by 10 other branches, he decided it was time that he created his own restaurant concept and that is how Makino was born.  Today, Makino has 3 locations, 2 in Las Vegas and one in Irvine serving buffet-style dining using the freshest and finest ingredients to create sushi and seafood dishes of the highest quality.


Inside Makino guests have a variety of options to fill themselves on.  If you’re interested in a healthy option, there is a salad station filled with a number of pre-made salads including Japanese favorites such as a seaweed salad, daikon salad and edamame.  Or other favorites such as Caesar salad and imitation crab salad, just to name a few.


Without a doubt, the most popular station inside the restaurant is the sushi and sashimi station.  The restaurant offers numerous varieties of cut rolls using the finest ingredients.  There is also a sushi chef on hand that will make hand rolls to order.  There are avocado rolls and California rolls, salmon rolls and spicy tuna rolls.


There’s also yellowtail rolls, tamago rolls, red snapper rolls, squid rolls and octopus rolls and shrimp rolls.  The number of different kinds of rolls and sashimi is mind-boggling.  All different colors, and textures and tastes.  If you like sushi, this place is heaven.  Not only is this a sushi buffet where the sushi is lined up so that you can grab what you want as you go down the line, but the actual sushi chefs are right behind the counter making the sushi for you right in front of your eyes so you know its fresh.


However, Makino isn’t just a sushi buffet, it’s a Japanese food buffet.  They have a very neat, made-to-order noodle station, where you can look at examples of some basic noodles that they can make for you, then you choose what kind of noodles you want, what kind of protein and vegetables you want in your noodles and then they make the noodles just the way you ordered it, and all done within minutes.  There is also a very similar set up with the very popular Japanese miso soup.  There is, essentially, a miso soup bar, where you grab a bowl, put it on a platform underneath a spigot that dispenses miso soup.  You dispense as much, or as little, miso soup as you want into your bowl.  Once you have the soup, you move to the next station where the condiments for the miso soup are.  You have choices such as diced tofu, sliced green onions, and other items you’d normally find in miso soup.


As the name of the restaurant implies this is also a seafood buffet and they have a whole selection of fresh cooked, grilled, baked and broiled seafood to choose from.  There’s the very popular tempura shrimp, along with a selection of tempura vegetables.  There are fried calamari rings, baked clams, grilled fish of several different varieties, there’s also cold boiled shrimp and large grilled shrimp as well.  So, you don’t need to be a sushi lover to fall in love with Makino, if seafood’s your thing, you’ll find plenty of it at Makino.


Of course, the hardest part of any buffet is trying to decide what to pile on to your plate without overloading it so much that you can’t finish anything.  After all, this is a buffet, so you can start out with just a little bit of food and go back for more and more to your heart’s desire.  And it’s not just sushi and seafood, you can also find teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, soba noodles, fried rice, stir-fried vegetables and much more.  The selections are a bit overwhelming.  I personally loved the tempura shrimp and vegetables.



After you’ve stuffed yourself with all of the food you could possibly imagine, it’s time for a bit of a palate cleanser.  Fresh cut fruit is perfect.  Sweet watermelon, sliced oranges, yummy pineapple and sliced honeydew and cantaloupe.  What a refreshing way to finish the meal off.


But wait, if you’re not ready for the meal to be over yet, there’s real dessert.  As in sweets!  Look at that selection of colorful and tasty cakes.  And it’s not just cakes, there’s pastries, there’s jello, and there are cookies.  It’s a sweet galore.  Do you even have room left to indulge?


Speaking on indulging, it’s not just sweets, there’s a chocolate fountain as well!  A rainbow of flowing liquid chocolate.  There were cookies, and brownies which could be used to dip right under the chocolate fountain, not to mention using the fresh-cut fruit to put under the chocolate fountain as well.

Apparently, my parents friend really knows how to pick good restaurants.  Everything they’ve recommended to us so far has been a winner, and Makino was no different.  Fresh, delicious, and delectable food as far as they eye can see and as much as the stomach can handle.  I’ll have to go back to Makino again just to sample all the dishes I couldn’t get to on my first trip!

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