In a nutshell:
Shudh Japani Bhojanalaya – that is what I cud think of, while describing Sakura. Some of the food here is so close to original that many Chinjabi/Japjabi lovers might not actually like it. Super Loved the ‘Saturday Lunch special’ here & craving for more.
Address & other details: Sakura
Meal for 2: Saturday Lunch Special – Rs. 2000+taxes per person – Choose any dish from a menu card of 165 items, as much as quantity as u can, & that wud b served on ur table.
Cuisine type : Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.
Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:
YUMMRAJ arrived at Sakura, Metropolitan Hotel last Saturday after being denied entry to The Spice Route, Imperial Hotel – for wearing 3 quarter trousers!!!! YUMMRAJ was relieved to find that the Japanese did not have a dress code – imagine it being mandatory to wear Japanese traditional dress to a Japanese restaurant like it was wearing British clothes at The Imperial Hotel!!!!
Not a very big buffet lover, YUMMRAJ was attracted to this unique offer at Sakura – Choose any dish from a menu card of 165 items, as much as quantity as u can, & that wud b served on ur table. All food was being cooked after order was placed & hence it was a long lunch session………….& enjoyable too.
The dining hall is in two sections with plain wooden furniture.
The menu card had serial numbers against each dish & it listed those 165 items in English as well as Japanese. The English dish name was followed by a description of the dish as well. It had appetizers, soup, sashimis, sushis, ramen, deep fried/ broiled/ pan fried, rice section, grilled, noodles, donburi etc. Must mention that they had many vegetarian options as well.
The Lady serving us was very good & helpful & she made a sea of difference to our experience.
Food was excellent in most cases except one which was pretty ordinary.
Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:
We started our meal with Edamame – lightly salted blanched green soyabean pods. I am not sure how many people in India have seen soyabeans inside pods –pod looked almost like green peas but the bean had a rajma like shape.
Salt was on the outer layer & one had to just munch on the bean inside. I remembered that this was a good accompaniment with Shochu / sake in Japan, as a precursor to dinner. Liked it very much & rate it 4/5. Note of caution – If u just appreciate strong taste/ are a strict non-vegetarian, u might find this to b silly.
We moved on to a sashimi platter that had fatty tuna, Salmon, Octopus, cuttlefish, Vinegared mackerel, sea bass & gizzard shed.
For the uninitiated, Sashimi is a Japanese delicacy consisting of very fresh raw meat or fish sliced into thin pieces. The traditional method of harvesting ‘Sashimi Grade’ fish – as soon as the fish is landed, its brain is pierced with a sharp spike; and it is placed in slurried ice. This spiking is called the Ike jime process. The flesh contains minimal lactic acid because it died instantly so it will keep fresh on ice for about ten days, without turning white or otherwise degrading. It is usually eaten by dipping into Japanese soy sauce & wasabi. The sliced seafood that composes the main ingredient is typically draped over a garnish. The typical garnish is Asian white radish, daikon, shredded into long thin strands, accompanied by one green perilla leaf per slice.
The fatty tuna was excellent, Salmon was very enjoyable, cuttlefish was less brittle than it usually is, sea bass was good.
The vinegared mackerel with skin was just too good. It had strong flavors & the right taste. Word of caution – this has fishy smell & wud appeal to hardcore fish lovers.
Gizzard shad (a fish) was a fish with outer skin as well (after descaling). Tasted very good as well.
The most exciting one was the octopus – This was much less brittle than it usually is, & hence enjoyable. Though taste of fish sashimis are anyday better, it feels fun to think ‘I have eaten raw octopus’ & talk about it as well.:)
As per tradition, this was served on a bed of thinly shredded Asian white Radish. Loved the sashimi platter & wud rate it 4.5/5
Post the raw fish, we decided to go for cooked fish. So we ordered Satsuma age – grilled Japanese fish paste cake. This was fish made into a paste & then shaped into cuboids & deep fried. The cuboids were served with sliced spring onions, a little heap of raw ginger paste & topped with dried fish flakes.
The fish cakes were soft, had a somewhat crispy upper & a sweet taste. Flavors of fish were interesting. The fish flakes tasted like nothing when had with the fish cakes but independently they were very nice. Infact they were so light that they were almost ‘flying away’ from the dish. I rate this 4/5.
After we had enough of fish, we ordered Buto Shoga Yaki – sliced pork sautéed with ginger flavoured soy sauce. Awesome is the word. Thin strips of pork (with a layer of fat) almost like bacon, sautéed in sauce. Just too good to resist. Wiped this off in less than 100 seconds. I rate this a 4.5/5
Time for some sushi : We started with Sushi Rolls, California roll with prawn & flying fish roe. As it landed on our table, we were floored by its look. I had hardly come across such non mechanized, non perfect (looks) California rolls ever.
A bite into it was heaven. A commonly available roll made with such perfection that we were impressed by its taste. As the fish row fell between the teeth, they wud burst & give a super sensation. Loved this & rate this at 4.5/5 again.
After finishing the sushi rolls we ordered Temaki sushi – Eel & avocado hand roll. This looked like the conical ‘jhaal muri’ pack that is served in Kolkata. It was eel fish sautéed & placed amidst vinegarized rice & long slices of avocado, wrapped in a seaweed called nori. This was very good again. I had not had temaki on many occasions & it was a love at first bite!!!! I rate it 4.5/5 again
We also ordered Spicy Tuna temaki –Spicy tuna hand roll. Here the tuna was raw like in the sashimi. This tasted very good as well but few shades below the eel & avocado. I wud rate this at 4.25/5.
The last item that we ordered was Kaisen Okonomiyaki – ‘Japanese style pizza with squid / prawn / salmon/ octopus , tempura flour & egg noodles topped with mayonnaise, tonkatsu sauce & dried fish flakes’ read the menu. What came was totally beyond my expectation – A thick round shaped base made of potato & cabbage with minced seafood interspersed in it.
The tonkatsu sauce was nice to taste but the base was not appealing at all. Maybe even this dish is an authentic one but the issue is the description – Why shud something like this be called a pizza? By pizza one assumes a wheat base & toppings on that. This was a complete mismatch versus expectations. It was OK to taste & I rate it 2/5.
For desserts we had an ‘inhouse made’ ice cream platter. It had Wasabi, green tea, black sesame, red Bean icecreams. I loved the wasabi ones a lot.
All the ice creams were so real / true to the ingredients mentioned that at times it needed some time to mentally get adjusted to the concept.
Recommended for food adventurers, this dish will scarcely be liked by people who have got used to the sweetness & creaminess of Kwality walls vanilla & butter scotch varieties. I wud rate it 4/5 for its sheer ‘stand out from the crowd’ & ‘being true to the promise’ taste & flavor.
Overall, we were superbly impressed by the Japanese fare here. The rating of food at this place averages out to 4.1/5
Loved the overall experience & wud surely come back to try more………….