THE EATBEAT: Excellent meals — and dessert — at Sakura
Mandy was our server, and the tea was piping hot when I visited the new Sakura Japanese Steak House on 32nd Avenue.
My dinner companions were Ruth and Harry Leichter (RL and HL). They had been there when the restaurant opened recently and were anxious to go back.
They like Tom.
He is one of the hibachi chefs — highly talented and very funny. He said he had been in New York, but he spent three years in Japan, where he learned his showmanship.
Driving in, off 32nd Avenue, and parking at the restaurant, formerly Space Aliens, is easy. Now tastefully decorated with Japanese art, the restaurant is large and softly lit. There is a huge Buddha near the doorway. There’s an inviting lounge area, a general dining area with hibachi tables beyond and chefs waiting.
It was show time when Tom arrived at our table. HL and RL were delighted because they met up with him on their initial visit to the new restaurant.
He was amazing as he prepared the ingredients for noodles and rice before our eyes. He created a flaming “volcano” by stacking raw onions on the grill.
He was nimble and quick as he prepared our food, and RL said she loved watching him. Our soup was hot, and the food kept coming. I liked seeing the ingredients and watching the preparation. I ordered the hibachi scallop dinner ($21.95). And HL chose the hibachi filet mignon ($24.95), while RL opted for hibachi chicken ($16.95).
Our meals were excellent. My scallops were enhanced by a few shrimp. I tasted HL’s steak and could see why it disappeared so quickly.
My total check was just over $25, but the servings were so plentiful I ended up taking half of my food home in a box.
Guiding the restaurant operation is Xing Lin as project manager, who has been in Grand Forks for 14 years. He attended Red River High School and UND. He helped with opening of Sakura restaurants in Minot, Bismarck and Dickinson. He said a new Sakura is starting up in Williston.
The crowning and glorious last touch on the meal at the new Grand Forks restaurant was a serving of mocha ice cream. It was a melding of a traditional Japanese dessert known as mocha, or a rice cake, with ice cream inside ($3.95). There are choices of green tea, mango, strawberry and red bean. For me, this dessert is worthy even at the end of an adventure in ample eating.
The other desserts on the menu I could do without.
Sakura Japanese Steak House
3250 32nd Ave. S.
Telephone: (701) 757-3888
Hours: 11 a.m. opening every day; closing 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Owner: Jim Zheng
Manager: Xing Lin
Report card: An attractive, inviting and upscale Japanese restaurant with an enthusiastic staff. Food is excellent. Servings are ample. Prices are on medium-high range. Helpful menu shows pictures of food.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.