Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Restaurant Reviews


Sakura serves good food, entertainment

For Japanese hibachi-style cooking, it is worth trip, expense

  • IMG-2453-jpg

    Seafood Udon from Sakura Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge.

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    The Money Bag appetizer from Sakura Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge.

If you have never experienced Japanese hibachi-style cooking, it is worth the trip and the expense.

Sakura Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge will more than entertain you and please your taste buds.

Sakura Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Address: 5294 Monroe St.

Phone: 419-843-1300

Category: Casual

Menu: Japanese, Asian

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday, and noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday

Wheelchair access: Yes

Average price: $$-$$$

Credit cards: MC, V, D

Website: sakuratoledo.com

Ratings: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Outstanding; ★ ★ ★ ★ Very Good; ★ ★ ★ Good; ★ ★ Fair; ★ Poor

Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants.

The Blade pays for critics’ meals.

The restaurant, nestled on the busy Monroe Street, excels at fresh sushi and rolls; offers a few Asian-flare entries from its kitchen, and grills about 20 dishes before your eyes on a hibachi.

The food is usually fabulous and watching the chef prepare your meal in front of you adds a little something extra. The show comes with a performance, including an eyebrow-singeing fire on the grill, a small “volcano” inside a sliced and stacked onion, and, depending on your chef, probably some comedy.

MENU: Sakura Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge

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On my first visit, my dinner companions and I decided to sit at the hibachi rather than one of the restaurant’s quieter booths.

Once seated, our server was prompt in greeting us and taking our cocktail order.

We started with the sushi sampler appetizer ($8), which is a chef selection that featured raw yellowtail, salmon, tuna, and crab. It’s a great, lite choice to start what will likely be a heavy meal.

We also decided to order an appetizer that had us a little puzzled by the name printed on the menu and equally puzzled about eating it. The description had us thinking it would be similar to crab rangoons, but the Money Bag ($6.50) is quite literally a bag of crab meat, cream cheese, and vegetables wrapped in a wonton skin and fried. The initial confusion was replaced with delight when I bit into the crispy outside layer and down to the delicious inside.

The Dynamite Roll ($15) is Sakura’s best-selling roll and with good reason. It is lightly fried with spicy tuna, avocado, yellowtail, and cream cheese, topped with baked crab meat and scallops. It’s a little heavy so don’t order it if you want room for dinner.

For the avowed meat-eater, the Hibachi Filet Mignon ($23) will surely hit the spot. It’s prepared to your liking before your eyes, then delivered to your plate sizzling hot. The meat is juicy and tender, and comes with a miso or mushroom broth soup and salad accompanied by the standard ginger dressing. There’s also a small mountain of fried rice, vegetables, and two shrimp. You get more than what you pay for.

Also during our first dinner experience, I wanted to test Sakura’s noodle skills and the restaurant passed with high marks. The Seafood Udon ($16) comes in a large bowl with shrimp, scallops, crab, white fish, and a fish cake. The noodle dishes can be prepared as a soup bowl or stir fried, our server advised me. I opted for the soup, which carried the aroma and taste from the delicious mixtures seafood. The steaming bowl is surely to be a hit for any seafood-lover.

A second visit was more hit and miss for Sakura. My dinner companions and I arrived promptly for a reservation to sit at a booth, away from the hustle and bustle of the hibachi grills, but we were nonetheless directed to hibachi rather than wait for a table.

I wanted to see how a full steak cooked in the kitchen would be prepared and served — rather than the meat on the hibachi grill, which is sliced into pieces and served on your waiting plate. My dinner companion ordered the Grilled Filet Mignon ($24), which was supposed to arrive intact with a “yakiniku sauce” and steamed rice from the kitchen. When the hibachi chef slid the meat on the grill we attempted to correct the order but could not convey the problem. So, for the second visit, were served the Hibatchi Filet Mignon. Our server later apologized and assured it was the same cut of meat.

I ordered the Bento Box Special ($21) on the second visit and selected beef teriyaki and shrimp tempura. The sliced beef was marinated well but could have been warmer and the shrimp was a little greasy. It also comes with the classic California roll, which was good.

Another dinner companion ordered the Hibachi Lobster ($34), which again came with a mountain of fried rice, vegetables, and two shrimp the chef placed on her dish before finishing it off with the sliced lobster. The lobster was slightly overcooked but not beyond good taste. She added noodles for a slight up charge.

We sat for an exceeding long time with dirty dishes and empty water glass before us as we waited to order dessert. Your best option for a sweet treat after your meal is Sakura's Tempura ice cream ($3.50), which is a great portion of dough fried around vanilla ice cream.

Overall, Sakura is worth the trip and the money. If you opt for the hibachi experience, expect noise and you may be seated with a rowdy bunch.

Contact Bill of Fare at: fare@theblade.com.

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