I met my friend Bill for lunch and we decided to grab some sushi at Sakura.  The restaurant is located on North Monroe Street a short distance from Lake Ella and  dominates the lower level of a two story plaza.  Large red letters face the parking lot while red lanterns painted with Japanese characters hang from the suspended walkway that covers the entryway.  Faux rice paper windows lined the right side of the building while smaller areas of rice paper bordered the others.  Two heavy wooden doors flanked the entrance.

Opening the doors revealed a slightly darkened interior when compared to the Tallahassee sky at high noon.  The floors were a dark gray and the ceiling was accented with wooden beams.  The walls were white and set off against the dark wooden tables and black upholstered booths of the bar area.   A second larger dining room is to the right.  Small tables dot the space with a row of booths to the left.  A large sushi bar anchors the back wall and was manned by two chefs wearing white hats.  It reminded me of some of the restaurants I visited in Japan many years ago.

A hostess immediately greeted us and rather than sitting us in the main dining room sat us in a booth near the bar.  The booth was comfortable and a small vase of flowers, soy sauce pot, and a drinks menu occupied the top.  Our waitress immediately appeared and handed us two menus.  She took our drinks order while we looked over the menus.  Sakura has an extensive menu and their offers include but are not limited to rolled sushi; sashimi; steaming bowls of udon; hibachi; katsu; and crisp tempura dishes.

I followed my friend's lead and decided to go with the three roll Maki Lunch special.  I selected the yellowtail, salmon, and tuna rolls.  The lunch came with both a soup and a salad and totaled just under $11.00.  The soup appeared first.  It was miso and served in a small bowl.  The salad was next and consisted of iceberg lettuce and pieces of grated carrot with a ginger a dressing.  The salad and the miso soup were both good, and were similar to what is served at numerous other Japanese restaurants.

After the soup and salad bowls were cleared our lunches arrived.  Each appeared on a curved rectangular white dish.  My three rolls were neatly grouped together in the middle of the plate.  Each was identical in size and shape except for the different color of fish that occupied the center.  I appreciated the consistency in the size of the rolls and it was a sign the sushi chefs paid attention to detail.  A small pile of pickled ginger and wasabi paste sat to the right.  My friend's dish was more artfully arranged and had bolder colors due to his selection of rolls.  I picked up a tuna roll and dipped it in a small amount of soy.  The fish tasted fresh and the rice was perfectly cooked.  The salmon and yellowtail also tasted fresh and each of the other rolls lived up to the first.  By the end of the meal my plate was cleared.

My lunch at Sakura was very good.  The service was attentive and polite.  The restaurant was clean and most importantly the fish served within my rolls was fresh.  I would go back to Sakura and look forward to trying one of their other dishes.

Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating:
Atmosphere: A
Taste: A
Presentation: B
Service: A
Cleanliness: A
Price: $$