Yes, a decade. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve stepped foot in Sakura. And for good reason. The last time we ate there, they served us frozen sashimi. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but imagine biting into what you expect will be a succulent, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth-like-butter piece of salmon sashimi, only to be met with a mouthful of ice. Yeah, that’s about how it went and we never returned.
In the meantime, we’ve cultivated an undying devotion to Asakusa. The seafood is always fresh. The rolls are always delectable. The service is exceptional and we love the atmosphere. There’s never been a reason to even try other sushi places in town… until Koto opened in the former Bar-B-Cutie location on Washington Center Road. After a bit of digging, we discovered it was owned by the owners of Sakura. Ugh, but we went anyway. When we walked in, we were blown away by the transformation of the interior—classy, and totally unexpected. The main dining and sushi bar area are lined in wood from floor to ceiling, creating a very intimate and cozy atmosphere. Though we didn’t venture into the hibachi area, we could see it from where we were sitting and decided we’d like to go back and give it a try. The food did not disappoint either, and though it was not as good as Asakusa, it certainly removed Sakura from the black list. If Koto was this good, Sakura couldn’t be as bad as we remember.
On Labor Day weekend, our initial destination was not Sakura. In fact, we drove to Oyster Bar, Paula’s, JK’s and Henry’s before throwing up our hands in frustration and making our way Southwest. Everything was closed… except for a few chain restaurants and Sakura. We were pleased to see that the menu was very similar to Koto and so we set about ordering: edamame and seaweed salad to start, followed by soup (I had clear, Jon had miso, and Jon’s dad had crab), and then 3 rolls- Fire Island, Black Diamond, and Samurai.
The edmame and seaweed salad were adequate—certainly nothing to write home about—and the soup was good. I didn’t try my father in law’s crab soup, but it looked interesting— a clear soup with a large piece of fresh crab in it that slowly broke down as the soup cooled. Our waitress advised that it’s best eaten after it’s cooled, giving the flavor of the crab time to infuse into the broth. My father in law enjoyed it.
Next up- the main course, and it did not let us down. We knew from our Koto experience that the Black Diamond roll rocked: crab, avocado, and shrimp tempura all rolled up, deep fried and then drizzled with spicy sauce. Delish.
I was most excited to try the Fire Island roll, which contains spicy tuna, jalapeno and tempura, topped with salmon, spicy sauce and caviar. It had just enough fire to make me reach for my water glass, but not enough to slow me down. I love the combination of spicy, crunchy and fresh.
The Samurai Roll was also good. It contains spicy lobster, avocado, cucumber, BBQ eel (my fave), pepper tuna and green onion. All of the rolls were prepared with just enough rice. I hate sushi that is rice heavy. I go there for the seafood, not the rice.
So while Asakusa remains our favorite, I am happy to report that we now have two more sushi restaurants in town that we can frequent. I’ve yet to try Sushiya-US on Dupont… that’s next.
(Please forgive the low-quality photos. I was equipped with iPhone 4 only.)