BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT - 2006
Sakura is a sweet restaurant in downtown St. Paul for people with Minnesota lifestyles but Tokyo tendencies. The hospitality swells at your entry: As soon as you're seated, a reed basket full of piping hot towels arrives at your table like Wet Wipes from heaven. Sushi appears on a simple wooden platter, accompanied by tiny eruptions of wasabi and ginger. The yellowtail and the albacore tuna dissolve on the tongue, and long creamy strips of tamago (egg custard) are heaped on rice that's just sticky enough. There are enough hot appetizers and nowhere-else-in-Minnesota bar snacks to sustain a year's worth of business drinks. The vegetarian selections are the widest in the state. Some of our oldest and most reliable favorites on this newly spiffed-up restaurant include the saba shioyaki (grilled mackerel) and vegetable sushi combo, as well as the vegetable tempura that's at once crisp and grease-free, and whose mushrooms and sweet potatoes, so muted-looking beneath their battery shells, surge with juicy flavor. Hai.