Anyway, the kids' four year/18 month(!) session went great. Afterward, Wade took the little ones home for lunch while I browsed (alone!) for a necklace to wear to church the next morning. (I went with a red version of this one.) After successfully procuring said necklace, I set off in search of something yummy for lunch. Little did I know that my search would lead me to one of the most surprisingly delicious meals I've enjoyed in quite some time.
Welcome, everyone, to Sakura.
Located across Poplar from Saddle Creek, this unassuming Japanese restaurant is situated between a Super Cuts and a tanning salon. Not exactly primo dining real estate; I admit I'd never really even noticed it before that day. I walked in the door about three minutes after it opened and was surprised to see six or seven tables already filled--with more patrons coming in the door behind me! Could I have stumbled upon a "best kept secret"-type establishment? Hmmm...
I grabbed a seat at the sushi bar; within moments both a menu and a warm, damp, delicately-scented towel were handed to me and my drink order taken.
I made my selection (house salad with ginger dressing, a Joyce roll and a Diet Coke) and watched the sushi chefs prepare various dishes while I waited for my food.
First came the salad. Consisting of a standard lettuce blend, a single piece of broccoli and a simple, slightly-sweet ginger dressing, it was cool and refreshing (if unspectacular).
So here's where the meal gets really good. As described on the Sakura site, a "Joyce roll" consists of "(deep fried) Crawfish, shrimp tempura, avocado, fish eggs, sauce".
A perfectly delicious-sounding description, upon which I based my assumption that it would be a standard sushi roll filled with fried crawfish/shrimp. However, a slightly more algebraically-correct equation might read, "deep fried (crawfish, shrimp tempura, avocado) + fish eggs, sauce." Because, y'all. Y'all.
What was handed to me was a plate consisting of four fist-sized patties, each cleanly and perfectly cut into bite-sized quarters. That's sixteen pieces of sushi, y'all; easily enough for two people to share (or a table to enjoy as a hearty appetizer). I'd run 10 miles earlier that morning, and even then I could only manage to eat about three-fourths of the dish.
One-quarter patty was exactly the size of a standard bite of sushi. Brilliant.
The taste was out-of-this-world; so complex and delicious. You've got the heat from the crawfish; the richness of the tempura coating and the mayonnaise-based spicy sauce on top; the sweet brininess of what I assume to be eel sauce used for finishing; a bit of green from the avocado and scallions. It was a triumph; one of the two best sushi rolls I've ever enjoyed in Memphis.
A quick compliment to the sushi chef, too. My entrée took just a minute or two longer than I would normally expect to arrive. When the chef handed my plate to me over the sushi counter, I realized that it had actually been sitting there for a minute or two; it was completely ready to go and he knew it was my order, but since it was deep-fried he held it back a moment to cool so that I could enjoy it right away (instead of burning my mouth). After I finished, he politely asked if I enjoyed it, and seemed genuinely complimented when I told him it was one of the best sushi rolls I'd ever had. Such a sweet man!
Bottom line: Would I eat there again? Absolutely, yes, without a doubt. Positively delicious!
2060 West St.