A taste of Japan in Midtown

A dinner at Sakura is an unforgettable experience, and one not to be missed. It’s a beautiful restaurant: the ambiance is amazing, and you’ll be thinking about it long after the meal is over.

Sakura is located on North Monroe Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues in Midtown and conveniently serves brunch, lunch and dinner.

The exterior is clad in gray with the restaurant’s name in red. The restaurant is rich in Chinese culture with Chinese lanterns and paintings outside the building.

The interior has a modern layout with dimly lit fairy lights hanging on the walls. The lights around the entire restaurants flicker on and off, creating an intimate and cozy setting.

The theme extends to a beer and wine bar, then ends in two private party rooms. The spacious dining room devotes one wall to a gleaming onyx-black sushi bar, the heart of the restaurant’s operations.

The music further accentuates the Chinese culture. The music is bold, yet soothing, with the sounds of taiko drums engulfing the atmosphere.

The ambiance is very welcoming. The hostess was friendly and greeted me with a large smile. He seated me quickly and took my order for my drink and appetizer.

The starters are fairly decadent and not very expensive. The menu has a wide variety of food selections, such as crispy calamari ($9), edamame

($5) and broiled black cod ($15). 

Over at the raw bar, the traditional sushi and sashimi are fresh and presented in a rainbow of colors. The options were still bountiful for sushi bar starters — sexy salmon ($12), or tuna or salmon starter ($12) and sunomono ($9).

I ordered the California roll and requested it be fried, which was a $2 up charge. The sushi was brought to the table and looked delicious. However, the sushi was not complimented with a side sauce.

I stopped my waiter and asked for a sauce. He readily apologized and said he would bring the shrimp sauce right out. I didn’t realize how long that would take.

The service was deplorable. The waiter was inattentive and slightly rude. He continuously avoided my table at all costs, even when my hands were raised.

After waiting for my sauce, I left my seat to get the waiter’s attention to ask for a refill and more shrimp sauce, which was very disgruntling. He responded by nodding, walking away and fulfilled my requests ten minutes later.

After receiving the shrimp sauce, I was excited to eat. The sushi was delightful. The rice was cooked just right and complimented the rolls texture. The salmon was cooked to perfection. The house shrimp sauce was a great finishing touch to bring all of the flavors together.

Now it’s time for the main entrée.

I ordered from the lunch menu. All items on the lunch menu are served with an exceptionally good miso and a crisp lettuce salad with ginger dressing. I ordered the shrimp hibachi ($10), which is also served with fried rice, stir-fry vegetables, three classic sushi rolls and a wonton.

Before the food arrived, the soup and salad came out. The soup was magnificent. It was very flavorful and was accented with seaweed. I thoroughly enjoyed the soup.

The salad was mediocre. The ginger dressing was very strong and overpowered the garden salad.

When the food arrived, the plate looked delicious. The jumbo-sized teriyaki shrimp over the stir fry vegetables looked impeccable.

Their shrimp was firm yet tender, and drizzled with their own teriyaki sauce, it brought out flavor and negated the fishiness that some seafood has.

The rice was mediocre. It was very bland and overcooked.

The rest of the plate was spectacular. The wontons were amazing and went well with the shrimp sauce. The sushi rolls were also great and simple. The roll had rice, crab meat and cucumber and the flavors blended well together.

Overall, Sakura is a great restaurant with good food and mediocre service. Although some aspects were displeasing, I would try Sakura again.