BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT - 2005
Japanese dining simply can't be intimidating at a place like Sakura. The airy two-story dining room has a Zen-like calm during the weekday lunch hour and a more up-tempo buzz before events at the Ordway. The waitstaff take an honest interest in your meal and will guide you through the menu. Let them help you fill your table with hot and cold appetizers, and be sure to venture beyond edamame and chicken skewers. Try the wasabi shumai (bite-sized horseradish dumplings), megimaki (delicate beef rolled around spring onions in a complex ginger marinade), or kaibashira age (luxuriously plump breaded scallops), or choose from a dozen little plates of cold pickly things. Most of these sharable delicacies are under $5, many under $4. Then, move on to tempura as delicate as a beautiful breaded thing can be, a full array of sushi, or classic entrées like sukiyaki, teriyaki, and tonkatsu (breaded pork). Two people can have a lavish lunch for well under $40; you'll double that at dinner.