I get a sushi jones about once a month, sometimes twice. When it comes up on me, it will not be denied. I timed my visit to Sakura so as to get my fix at the proper time. On my first visit I binged. My guest and I prepared with Tataki ($6.95) and Squid Salad ($5.95). The salad is one of the tastiest dishes I've had in quite some time. Simply prepared with shredded cucumber and pickled squid, it was superb in taste, temperature and texture. It was the first thing I ordered on my second visit. The Tataki was lightly smoked and a beautiful deep burgundy. However, like the tuna, yellowtail, salmon and whitefish on the Sushi and Sashimi Combo ($22.95), it seemed tired. Sushi has to have a certain degree of quality, obviously, because it's raw fish. Still, all raw fish is not delivered equal. Sakura's sushi was good quality, but it did not have the cool, clean and crisp texture and flavor that I have observed in the better sushi I've eaten. This aspect was obscured in the rolls, which run from around $3 to $10. These are beautifully presented and offer myriad combinations of avocado, cucumber, eel, roe, tuna, salmon, etc., all wrapped in sticky rice and/or seaweed and topped with sweet and spicy sauces.
During a second visit, we went the more traditional appetizer, entrée, dessert route. We began with the squid salad, as well as the Wasabi Shu Mai ($4.95) steamed wasabi and shrimp dumplings. These two appetizers alone are worth the trip to Sakura, particularly when eaten together. The cool tang of the salad plays wonderfully with the pungency of the dumplings. We proceeded with the Suki Yaki ($14.95) and the Seafood Special ($21.95). The first is a rich and heavy stew of sliced beef, tofu, glass noodles and vegetables. The seafood plate featured seared shrimp, scallops and lobster tail. Each was overcooked to some degree, with the lobster suffering the worst of it. It was too tough and chewy to be enjoyed. Most entrees are accompanied by steamed or fried rice, miso soup and a house salad. The salad dressing is an excellent house specialty, and though we plied the waitress, she would not give up the secret. Dessert is your choice of vanilla, chocolate or green-tea ice cream. I admire this simplicity and recommend the green tea.
I would be remiss if I didn't make special note of the service. The ladies who wait tables are extremely efficient and cheerful. They run the room with a remarkable degree of grace and well deserve this overt compliment.
Sakura is not a great restaurant, but it is a good one. Though the sushi did not bowl me over, a few other selections certainly did. With the grill and the sushi bar to choose from, most patrons are sure to find something they like. They'll be treated with the utmost care. And if you like the spectacle of the hibachi, you won't be disappointed. S
Randall Stamper worked in restaurants in Boston, New Orleans and Indiana for seven years and has filled every job from dishwasher to general manager. All his visits are anonymous and paid for by Style.
9008 W. Broad St.
Lunch: Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Style Weekly's mission is to provide smart, witty and tenacious coverage of Richmond. Our editorial team strives to reveal Richmond's true identity through unflinching journalism, incisive writing, thoughtful criticism, arresting photography and sophisticated presentation.
We make sense of the news; pursue those in power; explore the city's arts and culture; open windows on provocative ideas; and help readers know Richmond through its people. We give readers the information to make intelligent decisions.