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Makai Brings Polynesia to The Jersey Shore!

Atlantic County Magazine – GACCA Article

Print Date 1.28.2022

By Judy Brenna

Catering & Special Events Director | The Deauville Inn

This last Monday was a pretty exciting day for us at The Greater Atlantic City Concierge Association. We had our annual dinner to kick off the new season, and to swear in new and existing board members. I, for one, am extremely grateful that our existing president, Jeanine Osendowski, will be continuing in the position, along with almost every other board member, including yours truly ((insert evil grin emoji here)). And ((I know I mentioned this last week but…)) but we sadly said goodbye to Chris Adams. We also excitedly and officially welcomed Milton Glenn, who represents Absecon Lighthouse, as our new Treasurer. Remember, folks, he prefers “Milt”. But what I’ve already mention wasn’t the star moment of the evening, it was the venue itself.

I announced in a previous article a couple of months ago that a new and super cool venue emerged from the depths of the Atlantic, over at Ocean Casino Resort, Makai. But I didn’t really get a chance to get into what they have to offer ((rolling up sleeves and flexing forearms)). You guys! This place is ridiculous. And in all the right ways. Located adjacent to floor-to-ceiling ocean views on the Casino Level, and right smack dab next to Topgolf Swing Suites, is Makai, in all its delicious Polynesian-fusion glory. Their moniker, translating to “by the sea”, encapsulates the beach vibe to its fullest. Offering signature lunch and dinner dishes like their Hula Burger with grilled pineapple, teriyaki glaze, and bacon on a King’s Hawaiian roll, Fish Tacos with cilantro ((as all the ears on every white woman perk up)), Smoked Guava BBQ Pork Ribs with island slaw, and one of my most absolute favorite Hawaiian dishes, Huli Huli Half Chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and grilled pineapple, to name a few.

Oh, did I forget to mention you can gorge the island vibe for breakfast too? You can enjoy anything from traditional omelets to specialty dishes like Kalua Pork & Eggs with potato hash and crispy onions, Maitake Mushroom Toast with poached eggs and truffle hollandaise, Cinnamon Swirl French Toast with butter, maple syrup, and fresh tropical fruit compote, and even fresh Breakfast Popovers with passion fruit preserves. ((Side bar, your Honor: I have a viscerally deep affinity for popovers, ever since I was introduced to them when I was in college. There was a small brunch café about 4 blocks away from where I lived, on the Upper West Side, who served the most exquisite buttery popovers, igniting a love affair that has spanned decades. Just thought you should know.)).

And it wouldn’t be an island getaway experience without a traditional Hawaiian staple, Pineapple Upside Down Cake with vanilla bean sponge, caramelized pineapple, cherry, and coconut ice cream! I didn’t get to their ridiculous ((again, in all the right ways)) cocktail list yet. They have a huge selection of very cleverly crafted tropical cocktails like the Mak’tai with dark rum, orange liqueur, and orgeat, Passion Fruit Margarita, 7 Island Martini with vodka, lychee liqueur, and lime, as well as a shareable ((well… for some, I could house one on my own)) Hawaiian Sunrise with coconut rum, lime, pineapple juice, mango, passion fruit, and guava purees.

Makai was ever so generous in hosting a 3-course prix fixe dinner for us on Monday, starting out with a tasting of their Mini Tuna Poke Bowls, Blistered Shishito Peppers, Pork and Shrimp Steamed Dumplings, and their Hawaiian Meatballs ((the literally perfect combo of sweet and savory)). Then we got to select our entrée from the list: Tagorashi Crusted Salmon served with Pineapple Salsa, Huli Huli Half Chicken ((insert drool emoji here)), Kahlua Pork service with Island Slaw, their piece de resistance, Japchae. If you’re not familiar, Japchae consists of Sweet Potato Cello Noodles and veggies, with Asian seasonings. Delicious. Then to top off the night we chose from a dessert selection of either their insane Pineapple Upside Down Cake or their Mauna Loa Lava Cake served with uber creamy Coconut Ice Cream.

And even after going on and on and on about their food options, that’s STILL not what stole the show on Monday. Their customer service is unsurpassed. The care and attention we received was a bit jaw-dropping. Mainly because customer service has been a bit lackluster as of late thanks to Shmovid, so this was a huge and completely welcomed refreshment. The most important thing even on top of it, was how much you forget where you are. When you’re sitting there at the table, being taken care of, having your belly filled, and your mouth constantly quenched, with all these ridiculously delicious flavors, surrounded by this islandy and effervescent atmosphere you forget you’re in Atlantic City for a while. This is a quality I look for a in a venue. When I go out, I want to escape. I want to forget who I am, or where I am, or where I came from, just for a little while, and immerse myself in something other than my own mediocrity. And Makia does this. With precision.

I implore you to put Makai on your radar. You will not regret this. Go to for more information and making reservations. Tell them I said, “Aloha!”. Until next week, Folks! #stayjerseystrong

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