02 October 2009

Review: Sakura Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar in Hagerstown, MD

Meal: Weekday Lunch
Atmosphere: Elegantly Casual
Service: Excellent
Prices: Moderate
Food: Fresh & Delicious

Sakura Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar is located at 102 Railway Lane in Hagerstown, MD. This Japanese restaurant offers both hibachi tables and a sushi bar. The atmosphere inside the restaurant is one of quiet elegance. I wouldn't call it upscale because the napkins are paper and the chopsticks are disposable bamboo (you'll only get flatware upon request), but the general d├ęcor is much nicer than the typical casual Asian restaurant. The dark wood, soft lighting and raised booths help create a very pleasant dining environment.

The menu at Sakura includes a wide variety of Japanese foods. You can sit at the hibachi table and watch a Japanese chef perform a “show” as he prepares your grilled hibachi meal ($15 for a chicken hibachi dinner that includes soup, salad, fried rice, shrimp appetizer, hibachi vegetables and ice cream). You can sit in the dining room and order a bento box special ($18 for beef teriyaki with soup, salad, california roll, dumplings, rice, and tempura shrimp & veggies). Or you can sit anywhere in the restaurant (including the sushi bar) and order some fresh-made sushi ($4.25 for a california roll and $5 for a spicy tuna roll). Various other dishes—such as pan fried noodles, fried rice and an edamame appetizer—are also available.

Dining Companion (DC) and I both ordered the 3-roll sushi lunch special, which includes soup, salad and 3 maki sushi rolls (your choice from a selection listed on the menu). We thought it was a bargain for the price of $9.50 per special.

The service at Sakura is excellent. The hostess who seated us was friendly and engaging. Two different servers waited on us throughout the meal. Both were polite and efficient. Our soup and salad were brought quickly to the table. We felt the sushi arrived promptly, too, given the extra time necessary for its preparation.

The salad at Sakura is perhaps the only disappointment, as it is a standard iceberg lettuce salad (including some shredded carrot, a slice of tomato and a few cucumber bits) with a ginger dressing. The dressing is tasty, but the lettuce and other veggies are quite boring and tasteless. You do, however, get a pretty good-sized bowl.

The miso soup is also a reasonably sized portion. The broth is delightfully salty, and the bits of seaweed give it a lovely “from the sea” flavor. There are tiny bits of tofu scattered throughout the soup, but it's such a small amount that even those who dislike tofu would probably find it acceptable. DC and I both finished every last drop of this very tasty soup.

Our sushi rolls were the highlight of the meal. The fish in the rolls was a generous portion, and the rolls were a pretty good size in general. The rice was delicate and sticky—as it should be—with just a hint of the seasoning used to flavor it. The vegetables, fish, rice and nori all seemed to be extremely fresh. I had no qualms or worries about the freshness of Sakura's sushi.

The restrooms at Sakura were very clean. I saw no litter, trash or other debris in the facility. The water was hot, soap was available and paper towels were plentiful.

My verdict: Sakura Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar offers excellent, fresh sushi (and delicious soup!) at a reasonable price. I would not hesitate to visit this restaurant again for a simple and filling sushi meal.

Tastefully Yours,

Ms. Dish

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