Sakura's Kitchen - Two Thumb's Up for Quality and Value
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
If I had "four" thumbs, they'd be up too! There's no over-praising this little eatery, which is appreciated for its simplicity, quaintness, cleanliness and charm. Located right next to Noritake in the Pacific Plaza, directly across Marine Drive from GTA's Main Office in Upper Tumon, it's hard to miss the brightly covered signage (unless your view is blocked by a bulldozer working on the road "construction" (destruction?!) project.
I've eaten lunch and dinner here a number of times because of the value-priced menu items. There are 11 Value Sets served during lunch and dinner that are priced at $6.95 each. Among these are the Spicy Chicken Teriyaki Set (a local favorite), Pork Cutlet Set, Tempura Set, Japanese Fried Chicken Set, Japanese Chicken Curry Set, Fish Cutlet Set, Stir Fried Beef with Onion Set and the Pork Cutlet and Egg Bowl Set (Katsu-don), which is my personal favorite. Most of their customers agree that Sakura's Kitchen makes some of the best Katsu-don on island - they make their own sauces. All of the above Value Set menu entrees come with a bowl of miso soup, rice and a special home-made salad with their own tasty dressing. Moreover, for you big eaters, you can order a Combination Value Set, which adds your choice of Shrimp Tempura (3 pcs) and Japanese Fried Chicken, or Japanese Fried Chicken (3 pcs) and Teriyaki Chicken, to all eleven set menu entrees, for the incredible price of $9.95!
Other menu entrees include noodle dishes like Chicken and Pork Yakisoba ($6.90), Seafood and Vegetable Noodle Soup ($6.90) and Shrimp Yakisoba ($7.90), which is one of the dishes I tried the other night for the first time. An extensive appetizer menu is available during dinner service and has a long list of Japanese favorites. Beverages are available, too, with domestic beers priced at $2.50 and premium Japanese beers (Asahi Dry, Kirin Ichiban, Kirin Lager and Sapporo Draft) available for $3.00/bottle. Sake is also served, along with some wines.
I decided to eat several items off the appetizer menu and started out with Edamame (boiled soybeans - $3.00), followed by the Small Pork Cutlet (5 pcs - $6.90) and then a Japanese Bacon Pizza ("Okonomiyaki" - $6.90). The Pork Cutlet was really a great appetizer, since it was all lean pork, cooked just right to leave all the juiciness inside, with a golden-brown panko batter outside for that satisfying "crisp crunchiness". I added a bit of their homemade tonkatsu sauce, which just raised up the taste sensations a few notches.
The Japanese Bacon Pizza looked like some avant garde art creation, somewhat resembling a pizza in its shape and with a rich sauce topping, that had lines of mayonnaise criss-crossing over the surface. There were bonita flake and speckled seaweed sprinkled over this as a garnish. Yet the resemblence to Western-style pizza ends there, since this pizza is made with chopped cabbage in the dough...the dough is dry cooked around the perimeter, even browned, however, the inside area under the tasty sauce (the sauce reminds one of hickory smoked barbeque) is moist, with a consistency of a wet dumpling. The cabbage is steamed just right to keep its firmness. The bacon adds flavor and a meat element. A bacon-less vegetarian version is available on request. This Okonomiyaki is very popular in Osaka and Sakura's Kitchen does an impressive job according to experienced guests.
The final dish I tried (yes, amazing as it seems, I still had room!) was the Shrimp Yakisoba. This combination of cabbage, carrots, noodles and red ginger was "oishi" (good). The flavor blend and seasoning was just right, in fact, a bit on the spicy side so those who want a blander version should let them know when ordering.
The owners of Sakura's Kitchen are Shigeyuki Sakurai and his wife, Chieko. Since Chieko spends most of her time in the kitchen you rarely see her. However, once you've encountered the soft-spoken Shigeyuki, you'll make a friend for life - his smile is a big as his heart and he's genuinely pleased to have you as a customer. They actually arrived on Guam a little over a year ago after spending three years in Sydney. Since Shigeyuki's parents own a kimono shop in his native Osaka, you'll find several original kimonos adorning the walls of the restaurant. You'll appreciate the Japanese decorations and ornaments on the walls and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, Another eye-pleasing touch is the colorful origami paper on the partitions between tables.
Sakura's Kitchen is open 6 days a week, Monday - Saturday, with lunch service from 11:30 to 2:00 pm and dinner is served from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm Their phone number is 647-1623. For those of you who want to see the Guam Food Guy in action, you can visit Sakura's website at: sakura-kitchen.hoops.ne.jp, where you'll find a happy food guy under "Information"!
For your information, Sakura's Kitchen is a great place to eat! I've already told you that!