May 9, 2024 - Food and Drink

Axios Denver Spotlight: Meet chef Makoto Okuwa

Photo illustration of Makoto Okuwa in the center of a Polaroid photo under a blue spotlight.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of Makoto Vail.

Acclaimed chef Makoto Okuwa's modern Japanese food infuses dishes with traditional sushi techniques and his own personal touch.

The big picture: Okuwa brought his lauded cuisine to Colorado earlier this year, opening Makoto Vail in a town known for its luxury as much as its skiing.

Zoom in: The master sushi chef specializes in creating premier dining destinations, with other restaurants including Makoto in Miami's ritzy Bal Harbour Shops and Love, Makoto in Washington, D.C.

The vibe: The Colorado restaurant's lighter tone โ€” its wooden accents are a sandy brown โ€” is a shift from his other eateries, Okuwa told local broadcast program Vail Valley Live in February.

  • "[It] makes me really feel like home," Okuwa said.

Between the lines: Makoto Vail, located inside Grand Hyatt Vail, offers a menu including raw and cooked dishes like sakura pork tonkatsu and a Koji butter-aged steak, which he recommends.

  • Drinks include a gin highball cocktail with a piece of Colorado blue spruce, a native tree species.

We recently caught up with the chef about his daily routine and current favorites.

๐Ÿ“ง First click of the day: Email.

๐ŸŽตOn repeat: "Classic or smooth jazz most of the time, and some Japanese stuff or popular American pop music."

  • Oldies too, like music from the 70s and 80s, are his favorite.

๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ One thing on his desk: Pictures of his three kids: His son Kanta (23) and daughters, Sara (7)and Hina (4).

๐Ÿ“บ Streaming: He doesn't watch TV, just YouTube or Netflix, but he does turn it on "for background noise" and to relax. His daughters usually make the picks.

๐Ÿ“– Reading list: "Elon Musk" by Walter Isaacson.

  • "I enjoy reading biographies [about] legends like Elon Musk. I admire his trajectory and visionary mind."

๐ŸŽจ Favorite museum: The Smithsonian Museums in D.C.

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