So yes, if you haven't heard already, Makoto was at the top of Zagat's "best food" list. If you're confused, read here and here and here and here for background on Makoto and its recent honors. We have a lot of places on our list, but jumped Makoto to the front and made a reservation just 24-hours in advance to see what all the fuss was about.
The first course was composed of a bunch of little vegetable dishes and a soup. Cool edamame still in the pod, miso stems that were previously marinated in soy (but were not swimming in it), deep fried eggplant (not battered with anything!), and a teensy glass of room temperature potato miso soup with roast beef in it. The soup was definitely a flavor surprise, and I think I would want a whole bowl of it if it was steaming.
Second was steamed chicken in ginger sauce and a pleasant but forgettable noodle salad with diced cucumbers and red pepper.
Third course was sashimi--Spanish mackerel, tuna, and red snapper
Fourth, fried soft shell crab, the outside made of rice cracker. When life (or a restaurant) gives me lemons, I squeeze them over my food. And it definitely enhanced this dish.
Fifth (and this is subject to disagreement because I can't figure out exactly where this was and don't agree with J's assessment) we had avocado with a spicy miso sauce. The colors were lovely, the avocado was perfect in creamy-smooth-"good fat"-ness, and I definitely wanted more.
Sixth we had a tiny piece of salmon with a lemon sauce, topped with what I think was a mushroom on top.
Seventh was the sushi course, and I loved that the wasabi was built in. Being pretty uncultured in sushi, I hadn't ever ever had nigiri--just maki. I knew about the bamboo rolling mats, the rice, the seaweed, etc, but otherwise was in the sushi dark. Now I have seen the light!
Eighth was yakimono, and we had a choice of 4 dishes. I picked the yellowtail ("lightly flavored with soy sauce") while J picked--no surprises here--the tenderloin beef steak. The yellowtail was on the bone, and looked like something pulled off the grill at an upscale barbecue. It was tasty, but the bone beefed up its size and left me without too much fish. Yes, I had a 10 course meal and am complaining it WASN'T ENOUGH FOOD, but that's because I'm a very hungry person. I think J liked his steak, but I'm sure he fancied the sauce by the way he licked the plate. It was gingery, and I would have done the same.
Ninth was soba, our other "choose your own adventure" and J and I picked wild vegetable and grated yam. I really liked the soba course, the noodles were real buckwheat soba noodles, so far away from the ones in the $5 bowl from Whole Foods to which I add 1.5 cups of water and microwave for 2-3 minutes. At first I was all, this isn't so "yammy," where are the yams? They were the white grated stuff in my soup, I realized. As I drank up toward the end I was surprised how unintrusive the yam flavor was--I guess I'd been having second thoughts, thoughts rife with images of candied yams and marshmallows dipped in chicken soup.
Lastly we had bowls of lemon ice and a very earthy green tea. We enjoyed SECONDS on the tea, because we are a pair of wild kids who know how to lay a night on the town to rest.
We had a very unique experience at Makoto. We wore slippers, I nervously put my purse in the containment box that was my hard wooden seat (Ahh! No access to tissues!), and had a really enjoyable and exciting meal. The food was interesting and very pleasant, but nothing made me say "Whoa, what is this?! It's amazing! I want more now and when I leave I'm going to dream of this for weeks!" Then again, I'm not particularly well-versed in Japanese cuisine. I know I liked what I ate and that the place is an experience. Instead of dinner and a show, your dinner IS the show. The service is excellent--attentive and full of much-needed explanations, and you'll always be informed how you should eat each course (as in, "you can pick up the soup and drink it" instead of allowing you to fumble awkwardly, trying not to embarass yourself because you ARE the youngest people in the room and OMG I'm not sure what that thing on the top right corner is...but I'm gonna eat it). Enter with an open mind is alls I'm sayin.
And ladies, FYI, everyone says "wear clean socks" to Makoto, but girls don't usually WEAR socks when dressed up, and the folks at Makoto provide black peds for all. No need to bring your own socks (don't worry, I quickly tucked them into my purse as soon as I spotted the peds).
4822 Macarthur Blvd NW
Metro: Ehh, drive.