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Sakura

Sakura Japanese RestaurantIt has been approximately 5 months since our last review of a local sushi restaurant, which is to say that it’s high time we explored another available option in the Limestone City.  While my obsession with sushi has slightly waned over the past year and a bit, I strongly believe that’s a result of the handful of gourmet burger and poutine establishments who’ve set up shop recently. Sushi is still big business in the downtown, with some relatively new players in the form of Niji, Kame, Sushi Q, and few, if any casualties by way of closures.  We’ve all got our favorites, but I’m always on the lookout to try something new, and expand our collective dining horizons.

When I think of buffet dining, I conjure up images of sneeze guards, stale items that have been sitting out for far too long, MSG headaches, and one common ingredient: the deep fryer.  Needless to say, when a friend suggested that we try out Sakura on Bath Road, my expectations were set pretty low and I feared the worst; that a bad experience would turn me off of sushi for months to come.  Sakura set up shop in an address that could not support a Nichol’s or a Shoeless Joe’s, but it’s been around for a while and been able to build a solid reputation.  After just one visit, I am happy to report that Sakura was far better than I could have ever expected, with fresh ingredients, fast and fancy preparation, and remarkable value.  In fact I’ve already been back more than once.

The restaurant is rather large in comparison to the competition downtown, with lots of private booths, bar-style seating overlooking the chef/prep-area, as well as an exciting teppanyaki grill that I intend on trying one of these days.  When you sit down you are presented with a menu, a pad of scrap paper and a miniature pencil to place your order.  You can order as much as you want, but the rule is that you should eat whatever you order and waste as little food as possible.  In other words, don’t let your eyes get larger than your stomach, else you’ll be paying extra.  The menu has a tremendous amount of variety, with a decent selection of soups, salads, appetizers, rolls, sushi, rice and noodle dishes and the list goes on.  Below you’ll find a select sampling of menu items that I’ve tried.
Sakura Japanese RestaurantVegetable Tempura (118) pictured above left, which also comes in sweet potato, shrimp (below left), eggplant, broccoli, and calamari variety.  Gyoza – pan fried dumpling (107).
Sakura Japanese RestaurantSpring Onion Beef Roll (116) pictured above right.  I’ve also tried out edamame (109) fresh soy beans steams and lightly salted, and the miso soup (101) delicately flavoured soy based soup accompanied with seaweed and scallion.
Sakura Japanese RestaurantGreen Dragon (164) pictured on top, which consists of sliced avocado on top of shrimp tempura roll.  Hot Red Dragon Roll (163) pictured below, which consists of crab, cucumber, avocado inside spicy tuna outside. I’ve also enjoyed the Rainbow Row (161) assorted fresh fish rolled with avocado, Red Snapper (176), Tuna (181), Spicy Tuna (144), and the list goes on.

One of the great things about sushi is that the portions are bite sized, so you get a lot of different items on your plate and can easily share with and steal from fellow diners.  At Sakura you can order a few rolls of this, some tempura’d that, and keep on going until you can’t possible stomach another bite.  At about $20 per person, the all you cat eat sushi option offers great value, and again, an unbelievable selection of fresh menu items.  Having said that, the adventurous menu also has some strange offerings such as: salmon sushi pizza (167) and raw fish sushi pizza (169).  If you’ve driven by this place without giving it a real chance because you think, like I once did, that sushi isn’t meant to be served in an all you can eat format, you need to stop by.  It may not be the best sushi place in Kingston, but I would go so far as to say that it is a close runner-up.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

4 thoughts on “Sakura

  • May 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm
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    Well, Harvey, it's not like I want to follow you around contradicting your opinion on every restaurant, but it in the absence of any other reply, this seems to be my role on Kingstonist!

    We happened to be passing on our way to the awesome Cha Cha Tea (best tea in Kingston by far), and decided in the absence of anything other than Denny's and other crappy mall chains that this might be the best option – after all, Kingstonist had been pleasantly surprised by it. How bad could it be?

    The answer is: really bad. I'm not going to waste too much time on this because it was dreadful. For a start, the rice didn't even taste like sushi at all, it just tasted like sticky rice pressed together, and every single thing seemed to taste exactly the same and have the same texture – and judging by the menu, the owners don't even know what sushi is. The tempura was greasy and the deep-fried tofu was dry, bitter and ultimately inedible. The only okay dish was the fried noodles (which were at least edible). The 'all you can eat' lunch deal might sound like good value, but only if you are starving and have absolutely no interest in the taste of what you eating.

    I've rarely had anything quite as bad as this.

  • June 22, 2012 at 11:42 am
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    Sakura's food is not great. The quality of the fish is not high. The staff was snarky and unfriendly at best. None of the dishes arrived on time or together. There were incredibly inflexible with food allergies and substitutions.
    I ordered the sashimi platter and it came in really thin pieces that were not fresh. Compared to great sashimi at places like Izumo, this was a total disappointment.

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