New sushi restaurant concept by James Beard Foundation-recognized chef coming to Vail

A master of Edomae-style sushi, Chef Makoto Okuwa has more than twenty-five years of experience in traditional Japanese cooking, which he combines with his own innovative style.
Grand Hyatt Vail/Courtesy photo

What does Vail have in common with Miami, Washington, D.C., São Paulo, Panama City and Mexico City? They are all home to restaurant concepts by Makoto Okuwa. The acclaimed chef has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and is bringing 25 years of experience and expertise to his new restaurant concept at Grand Hyatt Vail.

The restaurant will be called Makoto Vail. Grand Hyatt Vail will still have Gessner Restaurant to service guests and the lively lobby bar where people gather after coming off the slopes, as well as the market and café on the property. Makoto Vail has been under construction near the lobby and front desk area of the 285-room ski-in/ski-out hotel and expects to open in late 2023 or early 2024.

“Chef Makoto is excited to bring his unique style of sushi and Japanese cuisine to Vail and Grand Hyatt Vail. The exclusive partnership illustrates the natural synergy of global tastes and refined experiences that Grand Hyatt Vail and Makoto share,” said Kevin Shields, general manager at Grand Hyatt Vail. “The restaurant features a beautiful design and incredible views of Gore Creek and the mountains, making diners feel like they are a part of nature.” 

Makoto Vail will be located at the Grand Hyatt Vail.
Grand Hyatt Vail/ Courtesy photo

Chef Makoto Okuwa hails from Nagoya, Japan where, at 15 years of age, he began an apprenticeship with master sushi chef Shinichi Takegasa. Although he has been trained in traditional Japanese cooking, he combines his own innovative style and draws inspiration from his surroundings. He also is a master of Edomae-style sushi, which is a method where the sushi is made with fresh seafood caught from Tokyo Bay that has been cured, salted, marinated, etc., as preservation. Edomae translates to “in front of Edo,” which refers to Edo, the old name of Tokyo.

“This sushi style originated in Tokyo over 200 years ago. Today, those techniques are being re-examined as a way to bring out the incredible flavors of fresh seafood,” Shields said. Okuwa will be here for the grand opening but he won’t be here full time due to his commitments to his other domestic and international restaurants.

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If the name sounds familiar, you may recall Okuwa opened Sashi Sushi + Sake Lounge in Manhattan Beach, Calif. in 2007 and it became a favorite hot spot for Jimmy Kimmel and Kourtney Kardashian. He was also on “Iron Chef” alongside his mentor, Masaharu Morimoto.

“The entire Grand Hyatt Vail team is excited to welcome Chef Makoto and provide a unique sushi experience for our guests,” Shields said. “Chef Makoto is working on the menu offerings now. Guests should not miss his signature Edomae-style nigiri when they come to the restaurant.”

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