Don’t get me wrong, by “appearance” I mean the way their shop looks on the exterior, not their food. In fact, I have paid a visit to this tiny eatery twice already, and do not plan to stop there. From the outside, Sakura Sushi can easily be mistaken for a ghetto takeout sushi shop, but it doesn’t take a sushi lover long to realize this stereotype is wrong. Waking up with a really strong sushi craving, I had to find a nearby place that was easily accessible by transit as soon as possible. Sakura Sushi, which is conveniently located right by the Brighouse Canada Line station, took me only one bus to arrive at in the span of 15 minutes. Close enough.
I also chose to come to Sakura Sushi because for once, their hours of operation fit in my schedule. Might I add, don’t come here if you do not have time to spare and wait for a free table. Sakura Sushi only opens between 11-7pm from Mondays to Saturdays. Based on these odd times, you may already have an idea of how this business is successful, because no other shop (especially one with a 13-seat capacity) would dare to close at a time when most people are just starting to have dinner.
Even when I arrived at 2pm, there were people waiting for a table (and ended up leaving because everyone had just been seated). I was able to sit by the window, given a time frame of half an hour by the staff. Without wasting a second, I picked up the menu and began to analyze the leaflet. The menu was rather “normal” for a Japanese one, offering basic sushi and maki rolls, nigiri, donburis, sashimi, appetizers, and pop/beverages. A growling stomach by this point prompted me to order a Salmon Avocado Roll ($4.25), Negitoro Roll ($3.00), 2 Saba Nigiri ($1.75 each), and an Aburi-Toro Nigiri ($2.25).
The staff working there all seem to be native Japanese speakers, so I am assuming the sushi business is authentic. There was nothing too special for the negitoro roll, but the salmon avocado roll was even better than Togo, which I perceive to have the best salmon avocado rolls around town. Simply delicious.
Their saba, for some reason, seems to differ from elsewhere, which instantly makes Sakura Sushi one of my favourites for mackerel. Whatever their source is, their sashimi just seems to be fresher than other restaurants around town. For a saba lover like me, this hole-in-the-wall shop is like heaven for me. To paint a better picture, here is an order of Saba Battera ($8 for 6 pieces) from my previous visit, pictured in the forefront. The iridescent silver mackerel skin on top completes the look of the moulded “box” style sushi.
(By the way, I even ordered something different last time – Shiitake Maki ($2.50) in the far right, which can be a good option if you are vegetarian!) Speaking of my last visit, my mom ordered a Chirashi Don ($14.75), a “luxurious sushi donburi”. The fresh sashimi on sushi rice proved to exceed expectations, despite the steeper price than normal. To name a few, there were Hokkaido surf clam, tuna, salmon, tako, saba, and shrimp sashimi, complemented with tamago (egg).
Rediverting the attention to this second visit, I ordered sashimi this time also; however, not in the form of a sushi donburi. The Carpaccio with Yuzu Dressing ($5.00) featured thinly-sliced raw red snapper lying in citrus soy sauce. Though delicately handled, I struggled to taste the red snapper as the sour dressing overwhelmed the rest of the dish. I discovered this option through one of their many posters plastered on the yellow walls, as the carpaccio was not listed under the normal menu.
I tried my very first Aburi-Toro Nigiri here and I don’t regret doing so at all. The tuna belly was seared to perfection and basically just melted in my mouth. Looking at the photo, you can see that the fanning out of the fish revealed the un-torched areas on the inside. What a beautiful sight! Writing about the experience here actually makes me crave more, because the final nigiri was what completed my meal with a positive conclusion.
The sushi prices here are slightly elevated than usual, but I am okay with that because with the quality of food you receive, it is worth every penny (or nickel, because we no longer use cents). As I said in the beginning, Sakura Sushi will probably become a frequent go-to for me… I WILL BE BACK.