Sakura’s Sushi for Valentine’s (let’s try not to get soppy).

16 Feb

Without sounding like a sickening romantic, waking up to a cherry tree just starting to blossom is pretty special – especially when a pair of sparrows of just starting to nest… Valentine’s Day for me, more than any idea of a commercial money-making scheme (though I will add this – people have been giving gifts since the fourteen hundreds, so it can’t all be fo’ the dollar), marks the end of winter and the start of spring. Milder weather and longer days have just become noticeable – it shouts, almost there guys! Almost there! And – dare I say it – I really, really, really enjoy Valentine’s day. It’s like Christmas, and only extra-cynical, extra-grumpy people don’t like that.

The night before we had spent (literally) hours and hours trying to choose somewhere that a) wasn’t booked up, b) wasn’t painfully formal, c) wasn’t restricted to a Valentine’s menu (don’t even get me started on those things) and d) wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg, twice over. We found Sakura, a relaxed Japanese-style cocktail lounge (or so we thought) offering 50% off of the menu for students. Get in.

So, at 5.30pm on Valentine’s, after abandoning the cat to her cackling ‘birdiebirdiebiridie’ (she was intently watching the sparrows) on the windowsill, we went forth to indulge in another love of my life: Sushi. Lots and lots of sushi.

Heading into Manchester and wandering on down by the Cornerhouse, we made our way into Deansgate Locks. Even though a student I wouldn’t exactly say I was well acquainted with Deansgate as an alcohol haven, so when our ‘quiet night out grabbing a bite to eat’ turned out to reside inside one of the biggest clubs on the main strip, I was dubious to say the least. However, I was quickly reassured as our lovely waitress – a Ms. Jenna – let us know that the downstairs partay area wouldn’t be making a squeak of noise until gone nine.

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Sakura, Manchester.

First impressions from inside was that it was gorgeous, if in a slightly glaring way. Though not harsh, the red statement pieces were obviously not meant to be delicate. Being sat down to our rose-petalled table, we were each brought a complimentary shot of ‘love heart’ sake. A worthy gesture and never one to say no to free alcohol, I immediately realised that (my god) sake is not for me. A few nights before I had sat at the back of a bus (I am a student), with me and my partner-in-crime attempting to swig away, and inevitably cringing to, lychee flavoured rice wine that tasted disturbingly similar to the ‘love heart’ sake. On the bus night we had pinpointed the taste to that of saccharine caper vinegar. Mmmmm.  Perhaps it is something my palate will just have to grow accustomed to.

Nevermind, because a Lychee Mojito and a Tokyo Collins (which, my dear reader, were also half price) were well on their way to the table and they soon served to quell the shudders. They were, in fact, altogether yummy. Our waitress took our rather extensive order yet returned to let us know that the tomago nigiri was not available. Offering us any other nigiri free of charge, I couldn’t halp but feel gratified. After a little wait – I’m always suspicious if food arrives too quickly – it arrived.

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Selection; Sakura, Manchester.

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Selection; Sakura, Manchester.

Showmanship was evident in the presentation and although it was neat, I’m not sure the effect was as much of a success as Umami’s (a much smaller establishment on Oxford Road). Such things as the wasabi being moulded into a stiff shape rather than having the fresh, natural texture it originally should have showed that elegance and refinement had been sacrificed for drama. Of course, in a place such as Sakura, effect is ultimately crucial.

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Selection; Sakura, Manchester.

The chicken katsu uramaki and the prawn tempora hosomaki could not be faulted, and the beef nigiri was also exquisite. Our replacement for the tomago – a salmon, fresh dill and wasabi nigiri was a highlight on the plate. I would add that possibly the grade of the sesame salmon sashimi was lower than that at Umami, also that of the tuna hosomaki. This said, the salmon teriyaki had us both fighting over the remaining pieces! Another drink (Midori Slipper and Tokyo Ice Tea) and we decided that just under two hours was enough to spend at Sakura.

Sakura, in determining, was good but it wasn’t great; its saving grace was our waitress who was wonderful all round. I enjoyed being able to see into the kitchen from an over-looking balcony on the second floor but, like the splashes of crimson, everything was about melodrama rather than content. The food was nice enough (note the non-enthusiastic vocabulary) but the drinks were better; it’s good value for students eating sushi but it is no where near the best. If you need somewhere to eat before congregating downstairs for loud music and copious alcohol, it’s a decent place to pick.

Yours,

Joss. 

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2 Responses to “Sakura’s Sushi for Valentine’s (let’s try not to get soppy).”

  1. cruellapoppy February 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Just by chance I stumbled over your blog today and I can say that I am Ms. Jenna. Not only am I made up you called me Jenna but MS! Glad you enjoyed it but we are closing the kitchen as Head Office want to focus more on Wet Stock. Last trading day is 2nd March, and I will be there to eat the rest of the food! Come join!

    • jossk1993 February 19, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      Hello there! Very glad you were pleased when you stumbled on my little blog 🙂 Tell Head Office from us that we will be having a word, haha! Would absolutely love to, and will be there. Thank you for letting us know!

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