Sushi. I feel like you either love it or hate it, however I’m still in the experimental phase, wondering if I’ve really had enough to make that decision. My friend Tracy and I went to lunch at Sakura, one of Indianapolis’ well-known sushi restaurants, to try a few things and let our tastebuds do the talking.
I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve eaten sushi. One time at Sakura (my first ever sushi experience), a few times picking up sushi at Fresh Market or Marsh, and now a return visit to Sakura.
Luckily, Tracy knows sushi (and Sakura) well, so she helped me through the menu in deciding what we should get. “A little bit of everything” was the general response. From $6-15 a roll, you really can get something for everyone.
Plate after plate of sushi would leave the kitchen, all unique in their own ways. I was surprise at the amount of kids in the place, and how PACKED it was for lunch. Nearly every seat was taken. Sakura is small, and you get a communal feeling even though most everyone is sitting at their own table. When restaurants specialize in one thing, like sushi, you know that everyone is there for the same thing. It’s a great feeling to think that you’re part of this group that enjoys sushi (even if I am still figuring that part out).
Lining the top of the walls are examples of the awards and recognition Sakura has gotten through “Best of Indy” contests, reviews and even national ratings. You know you’re in the right place.
The bar reminds me of something I read in Garlic and Sapphires, where Ruth Reichl steps into a sushi restaurant and is told that it’s very expensive, expensive enough that she probably wouldn’t be interested in staying. However, cost was no issue for Ruth, so she sat at the bar and mimicked what another young woman ordered, all while the chef eyed her with a slight smirk or smile on his face. She experienced sushi like never before, just as I was about to at Sakura.
I really let Tracy lead the way, but one thing on the menu stood out to me. Beef, sliced thin, and flavored with mustard. How thin would the beef be? Would it be raw, or cooked? Is the sauce on the side, or mixed in? All of these questions made me say “I have to get this.”
Totally delicious. Although I tasted more horseradish than mustard, I loved how thin the (cooked) beef was, and it was great eaten with the slices of cucumber at the bottom.
Tracy also got this appetizer of soft pork inside little cabbage rolls, with a wasabi center. Evidently, Tracy really likes wasabi. Being mostly afraid of spicy things, I haven’t tried a lot of wasabi before. After poppin’ one of these in my mouth, I immediately smelled the wasabi, then felt it in my throat, and THEN tasted the heat. There’s definitely a flavor to wasabi, it’s not just all about how hot you can get your food.
Then came the sushi. One giant plate of gorgeous colors and flavors, waiting for me to try them all.
Starting from the top and going clockwise: Boston Roll (asparagus, crab and wasabi mayo), Arizona Roll (yellow tail, scallion, tobiko, chili oil), Sea Urchin, and the Gabe Roll (tuna, flying fish roe, green onion, spicy sauce).
The Boston Roll ended up being my favorite. I loved the crunch of asparagus in the roll, although the wasabi mayo was a bit much for me so I just picked it off. The Arizona Roll and Gabe Roll were also quite spicy and tasty. The sea urchin, though, was the least favorite of both of us. While the beautiful orange color looked great, the texture and flavor was just… strange, for lack of better words.
All in all, I was quite happy with our meal. Next time we’ll sit at the bar so we can watch the chef’s in action.