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Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sakura Japanese Steak & Seafood House and Sushi Bar - Vienna, VA

Pike 7 Plaza
8369 Leesburg Pike #10
Vienna, VA 22182
Tel: (703) 356-6444

If you're looking for a fun meal that is full of entertainment, able to please everyone, Sakura is the place.  This is a great place for festive family dinners and special occasions. During our dinner on a Saturday night there were at least 5 "Happy Birthday" songs around the restaurant, and not only for kids! 

Sakura is a traditional steak and seafood house and sushi bar.  22 Sakura locations are concentrated mostly on the East Coast - 6 in Virginia (primarily Northern Virginia), 13 in Maryland, 2 in New Jersey, and 1 in California. The restaurant in Vienna, VA opened in 2007 in its location at the strip mall with DSW, TJ Maxx, Orvis, and other familiar flagship shopping destinations. It is significantly more spacious and lively than may appear from storefront outside. The restaurant seats well over 200 people with 18 Teppanyaki (Hibachi) tables (up to 10 guests per table), about 60 at the Sushi bar and about 15 at the bar area, and yes, the bar is fully and beautifully stocked.

What most people refer to as "Hibachi" is actually Teppanyaki, and what Sakura offers is Teppanyaki, but if you ask for a Hibachi table, the hostess will definitely take you to the right place.

We sat at a Teppanyaki table with about 9 of us total, a father with two kids, two couples seemingly on dates. Our chef - Rey Reyes alias Pikachu - could not have been more skillful, entertaining and fun! He had everyone chatting and laughing all along while preparing our food. 

The drawback to this sort of cooking is that food lands on your plate as it gets cooked. If you ask for steamed rice, it will be served in small bowls by your waitress and will sit on your plate cooling off while the rest of your food is cooking. If you choose fried rice, it will be grilled along with the veggies and meat, which takes time. The veggies - sprouts, zucchini, onions, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli - are first to be grilled. So, by the time the meat finally lands on the plate, the rice and veggies are either cold, or, if you're really hungry, almost gone.  

Teppanyaki tables are more about entertainment and a common denominator palate for those who cannot agree on where to go, rather than anything else. The flavors and sauces are good enough, but rather neutral, and the food is healthy and the experience is lots of fun, but this is not the place to delight the taste buds in a bath of flavors.

You can order Sushi at the Teppanyaki table, but if you want to see the Sushi chef artfully prepare you rolls, the sushi bar is a much better place for that.

If you are looking for some quiet adult conversation over a glass of wine, come here for happy hour, but keep in mind - it's unofficial. Sakura offers a limited happy hour menu for those who ask. It is offered Monday - Friday 4:30 - 6:30pm with half price on most beer and house wines and discounted select appetizers. 

 Sushi bar

 This is where all the fun happens.

Menu at a glance.

 Nigori Sake - only 15% vol alcohol

 Fun murals along the walls of the main dining hall

 Deliciously light Miso soup

 Greens salad with a slightly runny ginger-based dressing

 Your food lights up - you can ask for him to do it again!

 The onion volcano was DEFINITELY the CROWNING NUMBER!

 All but the meat...

 Pikachu's masterful food handling offers entertainment to get your mind off being hungry.

 While Pikachu performs, waitresses in traditional Kimonos deliver the extras.

 Chicken grilled with mushrooms topped off with a sizeable dollop of garlic butter

The DARUMA DOLL greets you at the bar. Daruma is considered to have been the Father of Zen Buddhism and the doll has lots of fascinating traditions and rituals associated with it.

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