Monday, May 25, 2009

Sakura of Toyko Japanese Restaurant

Sakura of Tokyo Japanese restaurant of West Covina, CA isn’t five star quality Japanese cuisine, but they make up with atmosphere and price.

Their menu is chalk full of photos for nearly every item to help unfamiliar visitors makes it easy to decide on what to order. I personally have a problem when restaurants place photos in their menus. This implies they feel their customers are not intelligent and won’t order what they aren’t familiar with. Granted, this tactic may work in middle class suburban cities, but this sort of practice is insulting and unnecessary.

Another issue I have with Sakura’s of Tokyo is the Japanese chef’s are not even visible. Sakura of Tokyo has a sushi bar, but it isn’t in use. It is merely a bar used not for customers to eat at and see the chef at work, but it’s used for decoration with who-knows-what. Instead, they are behind closed doors, which is not typical in most Japanese restaurants and sushi bars. Normally, one would expect to see at least one chef preparing sashimi and sushi behind the counter. This is normally a demonstration of pride and dedicationin of work that wasn't present here.

As for presentation, I was a bit disappointed in the food craftsmanship I am normally accustomed from a respectful Japanese restaurant. With that said, their food isn’t as bad as I portray. Granted a presentation of sushi rolls has expectation of beauty and grace that Sakura of Tokyo does not implore, but it doesn’t mean it’s not good. Just be prepared for their specialty rolls to fall apart if you plan on using chopsticks.

Upon reading the previous customer reviews from other websites, Sakura’s big seller is their bento boxes. Their bento boxes are the majority of their menu options with over 30 variations. Most of their meals come with teriyaki sauce over strips of chicken or beef, tempura shrimp and vegetables, and ginger salad, and white rice. These combination plates usually come with sushi roll of the popular California roll or other options of sashimi (raw fish over rice). All customers begin with a complimentary miso soup.

At the rear of the menu are their specialty rolls. This is where most of my disappointment came from. Their selection of specialty rolls are very minimal with only about five different rolls and five wraps and the rest was sashimi. I ordered the rainbow roll and the caterpillar roll. Within five minutes the orders came out. Usually, these types of orders are handcrafted with precision and take time to prepare. This felt rushed and the presentation from chef demonstrated little effort. I wasn’t impressed.

Even though I wasn’t impressed for the night’s production of food, I wasn’t disgusted. It still was rather enjoyable, it wasn’t overly priced, and their staff is very friendly and fast service made the atmosphere worth while.

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