Here’s one of those little clues that can tell you you’re in a restaurant where the staff really doesn’t give a squat.
The restaurant is empty, even at the height of lunch hour. The sole person in the front of the house (not that you need more than one in an empty room) is sitting down when you come in. She tells you to sit wherever you like, and you choose a booth that has on its tabletop four placemats with information about the restaurant and the dining experience. And the placemats are upside down.
With nothing else to do, you’d think that an enterprising staffer would make sure the tables were properly set and waiting for guests, should any happen to arrive. But no, not here. Not at Makis Place.
Makis Place is a new franchise that has just moved into the U.S. that specializes in temaki, the sushi handrolls, as well as sashimi, nigirizushi and rice bowls, so you’ve probably already figured out that it is headquartered in Brazil. The company has just begun its expansion outside of Brazil, which, according to the company’s website and what I could glean from the upside-down placemat, has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, and one of its first Florida stores is on Park Avenue in Winter Park, directly across the street from Umi, which specializes in sushi and Japanese dishes.
But as I said, the raison d’eat here is the temaki, which sort of resemble ice cream cones but with nori, the seaweed sheets, instead of a waffle cone and cubed fish instead of gelato. So, really nothing like an ice cream cone except that it can be eaten with one hand and no chopsticks.
So, it’s a convenience thing. Fast, too, if my experience was any indication. Not that there were any orders ahead of mine, but my temaki with tuna and whitefish came out lickety-split, if I can use that term on something other than ice cream.
The nori cone had some sushi rice in the bottom and the mixed fish on top. I had been asked what toppings I wanted with on the roll, but I figured that was something the sushi chef should decide, so there were none.
And it was all perfectly palatable. The fish was cool, though not too cold, and it was quite refreshing. Rather small for $6, however.
I had finished in probably less than five minutes. The server brought my check and ran my credit card on her handheld pad, which had already suggested an 18 percent gratuity. Because, you know, she earned it.
It's a small space that also has a fast-food sort of feel to it. But it's strictly table service and there is no seating at the sushi bar. Makis Place might be fine if you want something quick and fish based. But if you’re looking for a better sushi dining experience, you might want to look elsewhere. Like across the street.
Makis Place is at 528 Park Ave. S., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-790-4592.