Finding a good sushi place is a bit like a blind date: gossip and Google-stalk as much as you like, but all your predispositions could be immediately shot to hell. The grimy hole-in-the-wall joint may be way more than meets the eye; the polished, pristine hot spot might end up being vapid and shallow. It’s a crapshoot, and you can’t really know anything’s true nature until you try out. This is not without its problems. Ingesting raw seafood and exorbitant prices both require a fair amount of baseline trust. Every foray raises the opportunity to meet the love of your life or to send you home, downtrodden and destitute. This week, I went on one such venture to Sakura and left pretty satisfied.
Inside, it’s sort of bewildering, as there isn’t really one main dining room but rather clusters of tables scattered across a misguided floor plan. Best if you get a spot in the room with kotatsu–low-to-the-ground tables with floor cushions as seats–which automatically make everything feel more legit. Even better if you plop down at said table with booze, since Sakura is BYOB (no corkage fee) (!!!).
Tempted by the promise of lobster, we ordered the Samurai Roll. The shrimp tempura and avocado on the inside were great, and the crunchy on top added a touch of extra texture. Finely flaked lobster tasted more reminiscent of salty crabstick than of the sweet, fresh stuff of Cape Cod summers, but in taste if not in fanciness, it was a good addition. Another special was the Tiger Maki: morsels of tuna, salmon, and yellowtail snuggled up with avocado and cucumber inside white seaweed. It was fresh to the point of falling apart on contact, which was messy but kinda endearing. The weakest link was the Fuji Roll; although the shrimp tempura was solid, the smoked eel was too harsh while the spicy tuna disappeared.
Sakura is reliable, convenient, and some of the tastiest sushi College Hill has to offer. (On principle, though, avoid the special rolls with chicken fingers… weird.) Next time you’re in the mood for Japanese, it’s worth the mosey over to Wickenden.
High: Freshness should be a given with sushi, which Sakura recognizes. The fish is good and trustworthy, and each roll is made to order. Their miso soup is everything you want in miso soup, equally savory and delicate. And, hark! BYOB! I’ll leave it at that.
Low: Just because you can gild the lily doesn’t mean that should be your M.O. Sakura can and should play up its sushi with more simple tidbits like nigiri. Also, the waitstaff’s combo of sassy and aloof is perturbing: ordering vegetable tempura should never instill fear!
Bottom line: Ask for a tiny table and enjoy this down-to-earth Japanese food. Sure, it’s not enlightening, but it’ll leave you full and smiling.