nice place, not bad food, great specialty drinks, mediocre sea food, very friendly staff, great atmosphere, worst dining experience
Car stolen, management exacerbated bad situation. Went to Ma'Kai Lounge for a birthday party, and our car was stolen from their valet service. The valet driver (who did not have driver's license) left our car parked on the street in front of Ma'Kai with the keys in the ignition. After giving us the runaround for half an hour the valets admitted the car was probably stolen. We called the police and while we waited for them the manager and bouncer at Ma'Kai were incredibly unsympathetic and in fact antagonized the situation by telling us that they would tell the police we assaulted the valets (who we did not touch). They refused us water or use of the bathroom even though we had spent 4 hours in their bar, spent money, and had our car stolen due to their valet's negligence. Don't go here and especially do not valet your car.
Should have known better.
There is nothing worse (exaggeration) than driving around on a Saturday night in Santa Monica and not knowing where to eat... eventually after 5 laps around the promenade and countless visits to Opentable, you toss away your foodie-standards and join the mainstream - this is how we ended up at Ma'Kai.
Imagine a hidden antenna somewhere on their roof that broadcasts (like a dog whistle), but at a very low frequency audible only to fans of "Keeping Up with the Kardassians", guys looking to score, and gals desperate for love they won't find.
The spicy tuna on crispy rice, you ask? LOL, small crappy little pieces not worth $5 never mind the $14 they charged. The rice was not crispy, the tuna was not fresh, and the jalapeno slice on top was the only reason it could be called 'spicy'.
The shrimp tempura roll - imagine an officer from the Tempura Commission knocking on their door in full uniform and then pointing his finger at the cook and saying, 'How dare you sir... how dare you' - because that is how bad this shrimp tempura roll was. Let me put it this way - if you go to a low-end supermarket and buy a shrimp tempura roll and then leave it in the fridge for a week and then pull it out and leave it on your counter for another week, it would still be better than the shrimp tempura roll at Ma'Kai. Small, weak and feeble. No life, no snap, not hot, not fresh...
I could go on, but I will stop after my mention of the Filet Mignon. Sure I should have known that it was not going to be any good for just $21, but this place is all small plates, so I took a chance. I asked for medium and it came out so raw even the steak knife could not cut it. Plus, I don't remember ever having Filet before with fat on the sides.. total blubberfest. I had to send it back. In fact, if we weren't so hungry and desperate to eat, I would have sent it all back, saving the wine of course (decent glass of pinot.. compliments to the winery, not the restaurant).
Would I ever go back? Do I have any hard feelings for them wasting my time and money? Of course not, I already knew better... we all know better.
Question: Why do big, noisy restaurants surrounded by tourists suck?
Answer: Because they can...
Sub-Par Food, Overpriced.
My boyfriend and I basically chose to try this restaurant because we were both starving, and we happened to be right there.
We were immediately dismayed by the limited lunch menu that they offered! Regardless, we sat down and ordered 3 dishes. My boyfriend ordered a standard $1 miso soup for an astounding $4 to start with and I had the most plain, boring garlic fries that I'd ever ordered. They didn't even taste like garlic, they tasted like fries that wished they were McDonald's fries that were fried in a garlic oil and then left unsalted. Served with a side of plain ketchup. Ugh.
And then the "main courses" arrived. What a joke. I had the trio of kobe beef sliders with a so-called pineapple bbq sauce and cheddar, and my boyfriend had two plates of sushi rolls.
My kobe beef sliders were unseasoned and not special. The poor presentation astounded me! Just three tiny misshapen burgers with some cheddar cheese melted and sprinkled on top, and then stuffed in a crudely torn apart dinner roll, with a bit of sweet bbq sauce plopped onto the meat, and then place on a plate divided into three sections. For $14, and no side salad or any choice of side at all.
My boyfriends' rolls were laughably tiny, and he would have had a better choice of fish at Famima!! or 7-Eleven. They were rolled without any laver sheets, which would have been fine, except that the rice was slightly undercooked and the rolls were about an inch a half big. Those were $10 a plate.
Then my boyfriend ordered a Sapporo and I had the tropical iced tea. The drinks were the best part of the meal. The waitress as well. She was very nice and quite attentive, made sure to come back and check up on us every so often.
We didn't have any dessert, because they don't offer anything at lunch, paid our $58 bill and left dissatisfied.
I don't even know who to be upset at, and I was about to speak with the manager, but he was in the middle of conducting interviews for the next sucker to work at this sad little spot. Maybe fine for tourists, we're not going back.
excellent food, great drinks!. Overall the food is amazing and consistently good. Its a little pricey, but worth it, as they do an amazing job with the fusion of flavors. The specialty drinks are also really good. I highly recommend this place for a date, or a small group dinner. Sometimes the service isn't great, but it's never been horrible. I don't really understand though why they have bouncers - kind of tacky really.
I will NEVER go to Ma'Kai again. Ever..
1. Horrible Service (the waitress came to our table twice...and that was it!
2. Rude GM. Mike never apologized to me to rectify the situation..even when I called in to express my disappointment, he was VERY rude.
3. The DoorGuys are A*Holes (they abuse the tiny bit of power they have)
4. I will never go there again.
Makai. I love how the makai serves absinthe, and they do it with the sugar cube and the spoon and everything! i love watching their mixologists throughout the entire process of making their drinks
Nice Location. Been here a couple times. The location is great, right across from the cliffs overlooking PCH. The loung itself gets real small on the weekends with the crowds. The indoor dance floor accomodates the DJ as well so not much room for dancing. Pretty people all over the place and also well dressed. The best part... they let you smoke on the Patio! Unusual for Santa Monica with all the smoker haterz. Drinks would be considered expensive if you're only used to drinking at home. Otherwise, no more no less expensive.
Destination restaraunt in Santa Monica: Fresh sushi, flavorful green tea and excellent customer service. Okay...Okay... I read the reviews and was a total skeptic. I went, ate, drank and got conquered. This is a total HOT SPOT! Anyone who is willing to venture out to the destination of delicious flavors must go to Makai. There's a full bar, delicious asian fusion dishes, and gorgeous peeps up in there. Order the spicy tuna with crispy rice-- a true mouthful of flavors..How does the chef come up with such savory delights? This is weird but my girlfriend complimented the green tea! And you know what? It was actually flavorful.The Chef even thought of that too!!!!!!!!The server called it Bon Vivant green Tea. Service was prompt and friendly. To anyone heading out to Santa Monica drop in to this place and have a fabulous time it truly is a great dining experience!
good selection and friendly service. they offer an great selection of sushi, as well as tempura...staff is very friendly and is always available for additional orders, or to fill your cocktails, or tea...teh japanese bon vivant green tea is really good...refill that...my experience with makai has been good...I recommend this place to anyone looking to enjoy sushi in a small, yet casual eating environment, who wants to be satisfied as a result of a good eating experience... would I eat there again? sure...overall, I would recommend this restaurant to anyone for drinks, or sushi.
Back on rotation!!. So I hadn't been to Makai in almost a year when I went there last week and it was awesome! Used to go to this place alot back in the day but hadn't been in a really long time. Some girlfriends suggested we go for happy hour so on we went. Ordered a round on martinis and they were all great...I loved this cucumber saketini, it was super refreshing and went very well with the sushi we ordered. Which brings me to the food...YUM! We ordered the Hamachi Fusion that had this wonderful truffle, yuzu sauce also had the tuna on crispy rice and the steak asparagus skewers...yum! Bartender (super funny guy) mentioned that they recently hired the chef from Koi. I always liked Makai for the drinks but now will be back for the food! The vibe has also changed a bit too and I mean for the better. This place is definatly going back on the rotation list for where my friends and I frequent!!!