MF Buckhead

posted on December 19, 2007 at 5:42 am

I have always enjoyed MF Sushi on Ponce (only during lunch because I can’t handle the scenesters at night) so I naturally thought that I was going to enjoy MF Buckhead. The lure of the robata grill and fish from Tokyo’s Tsujuki market were especially appealing. I went with my family for a little post-Hanukkah get together expecting to be blown away. We were, in fact, blown away but not in the manner I’d hoped for. I’d received emails from some of my readers expressing their dismay with the service, prices, and portion size. But, being the stubborn Japanese food fiend that I am, I decided to go anyway.

Finding the restaurant was a bit tough, because there is virtually no signage except for a small sign on the glass door. The restaurant’s decor is very stylish and modern–a nice step up from the other MF. From what I have heard, this restaurant is supposed to be a higher-end outpost for the growing restaurant group, owned by Alex and Chris Kinjo.
The sake list is quite extensive and there are plenty of options to choose from. I did not examine the wine list. The menu is broken up into a selection of soups, appetizers, robata items, sushi rolls, nigiri, and sashimi. The menu, while interesting, seems to be lacking balance. For a restaurant that touts their robata grill as a selling point, the selection was woefully small. I would have liked to see more vegetables and was surprised to find very little green on the menu. It all felt like a poor man’s Nobu. Do we really need to see miso-marinated black cod on yet another menu? Where is the innovation? My sister (and others that have written me about their experiences) also noted there was nothing fried on the menu. Something I agree would be a nice addition in the name of balance.
We started with the shima aji carpaccio with yuzu and the tuna tartar with Japanese mountain yam. The presentation was flawless, but it was all quite flavorless. The yuzu was barely detectable in the shima aji dish. The fish, however, was very fresh and expertly sliced. The tuna was beautiful with small flakes of gold leaf and a dot of caviar, but incredibly bland. The $24 crab with uni mousse was quite good, but the price for the portion was ridiculous. Chef Kinjo sent over an order of Kobe beef nigiri for my Dad (who has been a customer of his since the beginning), which was probably my favorite dish of the night. It was almost the texture of toro and the truffle was a nice touch. Great dish.
We moved to our sashimi course. Ordering the sashimi was frustrating because they were out of so many items. Quite annoying and a common issue I’ve faced at the Ponce location as well. The sashimi was all very fresh except for the giant clam, which was a bit fishy. Fresh giant clam has a distinctive snap and this was a bit limp.
Next were our robata items, which we were all very excited about—especially since our robata experience in Tokyo a few months ago. We started with the corn tare, which everyone said was amazing. It was basically chunks of corn with a sweet sauce—just boring and cold. The whole squid was equally underwhelming. The squid had not been cooked long enough, so there was no char and it was cold by the time it reached us as well. We got the assortment of mushrooms, which they served on a platter with a small grill at our table. The marinade on the mushrooms was flavorful, but they mushrooms took forever to warm and we just ended up eating them cold. The only item I enjoyed, off the robata, was the gingko nuts, which are hard to find in Atlanta. They were smoky and tasty, but pricey for the two small skewers we received with our order. It seems, from what we tasted, that they still don’t have the robata execution down.I would honestly rather eat the yakitori items at Yakitori Jinbei in Smyrna, which is also considerably cheaper.
After all of this food, my sister was still hungry and she ordered a salmon skin hand roll. They were out of salmon skin. What a surprise. She got some sort of hand roll and downed it. Still hungry, she ordered some sort of fruit dessert, which she said tasted like baby food. By this time, we were all squirming in our seats due to the unimaginably slow service. I am not saying the service is bad, but the pacing is completely off. The waitress took the time to explain every dish to us and how to eat it, but it was just ridiculous after a while.
We got out of there for about $400 bucks. Given the choice, I would have rather spent the money at Taka. We could have gotten twice the amount of food in half the time and most likely spent less. Yes, I know this is a high-end place, but it was just not worth it. I have no problem paying a premium for good food, but there is better Japanese to be had in Atlanta.

Verdict: If you can’t tell, my whole experience at MF Buckhead was lackluster. When it comes down to it, the food is just not worth the price. I think the clientele will most likely be an expense account type of crowd and people who want to be seen. Yes, I know the two MFs are different concepts, but many of the problems I faced at the original (availability of fish, snooty service, and pacing) have migrated to Buckhead. Dining out is supposed to be fun and the experience was maddening on so many levels. My whole family left the restaurant feeling grumpy and unsatisfied–a sad thing since we started out the meal so happy. All of us said we won’t running back anytime soon. 


Address: 3280 Peachtree Road in the Terminus building; valet available for $5

Phone: (404) 841-1192
Payment: Cash and all major credit cards


MF Buckhead on Urbanspoon
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  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Anonymous · December 19, 2007  10:00 AM

    Recently I went to the new MF with a large group of girlfriends. The atomosphere was cool but the menu was weird and confusing. How can they have no tempura items? Everything is extremely overpriced and the portions are tiny. There were a few items that were delicious but we soon forgot about them while waiting over an hour for our check (and got total attitude everytime we asked for it). The bill was outrageously expensive and we all left hungry. Bliss, you are right on the money!

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Anonymous · December 19, 2007  11:04 AM

    atlanta gets what atlanta deserves…

    off to some of those bitchin’ restaurants at atlantic station….

    ru sans with an attitude

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: FiverThrash · December 19, 2007  12:45 PM

    Amen! I was there last Thursday and had the same experience with the overpriced food, small portions and slow service. You really hit the nail on the head with this review and I’m going to stick to Genki in the future.

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Anonymous · December 21, 2007  10:00 AM

    We ate at MF Buckhead on Tuesday and felt the same way…seemed like opening day, even though they have been open over a month. The server that delivered the eggplant robata said it was duck. He also tried to deliver a couple dishes to our table that were meant for another.
    We ordered the squid – the flavor and tenderness was good even though it was cold. The eggplant was raw in the middle and did not cook more even though it was on a little grill at the table. The tuna tataki was ice cold and too thick. We were not impressed with the Kobe beef nigiri- exerior seemed lightly poached rather than grilled. We really enjoyed the cured grilled duck once it arrived. The server forgot to add it to our order and we had to remind her. Eel robata and a Hawiian fish robata were nice. We also liked the mushrooms even though they were cold. Box sushi of spicey tuna and salmon was good.

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Anonymous · December 27, 2007  9:26 PM

    Perhaps the reason that there is very little green on the menu is that we are in the middle of winter. Green produce does not naturally occur until the spring.

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · December 28, 2007  5:07 AM

    Sorry, but you are ill-informed. Green produce “naturally occurs” all year. As a matter of fact, I got some lovely bok choy, broccoli, rainbow chard, lettuce mixes, etc. from my local farm stand the other day. And, there was plenty more stuff to choose from. And MF’s menu is not very seasonal anyway. He has corn on the menu and corn season is waaaay gone. I am just saying he needs to throw a salad on there or something and maybe have a few more veggies–there are a lot of different ones in season that would lend themselves to the robata.

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Anonymous · December 28, 2007  9:26 AM

    “ill informed”


    way to put that mf employee in his/her place

    OMG, meri ford just gave bf FIVE starz

    i smell a bliss/meri cat fight


  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Waylo · December 31, 2007  4:17 PM

    Yes, sounds like Meri Ford went to a completely different restaurant in her AJC review. Perhaps someone called ahead and made sure they knew who was coming? (Unlike blissful who doesn’t take comp-ed meals or let on who she is).

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · January 16, 2008  4:08 PM

    Besha Rodell, Creative Loafing’s restaurant critic and food editor, just wrote her review of MF:
    She has a solid palate and she is always fair. She hit the nail on the head.

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Sudhir · January 17, 2008  9:52 AM

    So, so sad. I went to Soto maybe 20-30 times and never, ever spent more than $100 on myself. It was basically impossible, even when I went all out. MF may be in a shiny new building, but Soto is still casting a shadow even from New York. I don’t understand how a restaurant can justify $100+ pp in Atlanta and not be exceptional. Maybe in NYC, Chicago or Vegas, but not here. There are too many exceptional places at the $100+ price point and way too many great places in the $50-100 pp range.

  • Re: MF Buckhead
    posted by: Anonymous · February 14, 2008  1:43 PM

    I dined at MF Buckhead last night and must say I disagree with everything posted. Maybe it took them some time to get everything in tune seeing as most of these posts were from at least a month ago, but I was thoroughly impressed. The service and teamwork were flawless and the pacing mentioned was I thought one of the strongest points. My girlfriend and I had the server’s recommendation on sake, appetizer, main courses (special roll and miso duck), and desert and nothing could be described as anything close to bland. The freshness was in every bite. With desert, we each had a glass of champagne and the final bill price was $89. Would recommend to anyone.

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