Whenever the ‘top five’ conversation crops up among friends, and moves away from albums or gigs on to cuisine, sushi is never far from the top spot.
Equally – when seeking out restaurants away from Northampton, I always gravitate towards anywhere selling it.
Therefore, it’s somewhat puzzling that prior to visiting Sakura, in Northampton, I’d never been to the Japanese sushi and teppanyaki bar before.
Located opposite the Carlsberg brewery, in Bridge Street, dining at Sakura is probably unlike anything else you will experience in this county.
Upon our arrival, rather than being shown directly to a table, my partner, Alys, and myself were taken to a lounge area where we ordered drinks (Cokes £1.60 each) and were handed menus.
We ordered harumaki – deep fried Japanese spring rolls – for starters (£4.40) and the sushi selection (£16.50) to follow. The latter comprised of eight pieces of sushi, served as two pieces per selection.
Sakura sells 14 different types of sushi from its ‘sushi bar’. We chose shake (salmon), kaniko (crab roe), magura (tuna) and tako (octopus).
All are served in familiar fashion as a strip of meat on top of a block of rice.
For our mains, I ordered hibachi steak (£16.50), while Alys chose tuna fillet steak. (£14.30). We ordered a steamed rice (£2.20) to share.
Sakura’s menu also boasts a large range of sashimi, makimono rolls, temaki and noodles.
After a short wait, we were taken to our table. Ours was large enough to seat about eight.
We sat at one end, with a family of four occupying the other end, who were already part the way through their meal. The table/bar was set up with chopsticks and a selection of sauces.
Our spring rolls and sushi selection arrived in quick succession. In hindsight, we should have been more adventurous with our starter choice, but the sushi was delicious, a world apart from what you see on supermarket shelves.
The fish was tender and fresh while it was clear the rice was freshly cooked.
The ‘theatre’ of our meal began as a chef approached, sharpened his knives and set about cooking our main courses in front of us.
After preparing a serving of hibachi rice for the family opposite, he set about cooking the beef and tuna.
My steak was cut into small cubes while the tuna was left as a large steak. The meats sizzled away in front of us, the odd rogue grain of rice ‘popped’ around the hotplate.
Every so often hot oil would ignite resulting in a brief flash of flames and heat.
Our mains were plated up and topped with teriyaki sauce. Our steamed rice arrived, quickly followed by a portion of bean sprouts. Both were well cooked and packed full of flavour.
Sakura leans very much to the shared dining experience, rather than the stereotypical candlelit romantic table for two. If I was being picky, I’ve eaten better sushi (abroad) and better steak (in Northampton). However, few other restaurants in the county can match Sakura’s combination of excellent Japanese food and their approach to cooking.
DISABLED ACCESS: Yes
PARKING: Private car park
COST OF OUR MEAL
FINAL TOTAL: £64.57
David’s star rating: 8/10