Sakura, Albert Road, Southsea | Restaurant review
To sample delicious and authentic Japanese food you might think theonly way to do so is to travel about 6,000 miles.
But for most of us right now it’s not likely we will be leaving the UK any time soon.
Luckily, if you do have a craving for traditional Japanese dishes, whether it’s sushi, udon, tempura or sashimi, there is somewhere in Southsea you can try instead. My companion and I venture to Sakura in Albert Road one Saturday night, suitably hungry after a day of cycling. I made a reservation earlier in the week, which proves to be the right move as the place is packed.
In line with Covid-19 safety measures, a sign on the door tells us to put on our masks before we enter. Inside a friendly, if somewhat rushed-off-his-feet, waiter checks my name on the list and then shows us to our table. Every table is separated by panelling so you feel like you are in a private booth.
It is my first time at this eatery and I am blown away by the sheer volume of choice on the menu. We are given a piece of paper to write down our orders so the staff can quickly take them rather than having to wait around – although I don’t know if this is a new coronavirus measure or not.
We are especially hungry so we each select a main dish and several smaller ones to share. The service is incredibly fast. We barely have time to take in our surroundings before plates start arriving.
First of all I try the six-piece vegetable California maki (£4.80), a good choice if you are being introduced to sushi for the first time. It is avocado, cucumber and mayonnaise wrapped in rice and it is light and refreshing. As with all the dishes there it comes with soy and wasabi sauces for dipping.
I tuck into some vegetable gyoza (£5.80) – or dumplings – next. These are crispy on the outside and still hot on the inside. My companion has ordered some rainbow maki (£6.80). This is a selection of salmon, tuna, squid, caviar, avocado, sesame and prawn sushi. They say it’s the best rainbow maki they have ever tried.
We share some tamago nigiri (£2.80), which takes me by surprise. It is a Japanese omelette on rice – but the egg is slightly sweet – and it’s really tasty.
All this food is probably more than enough to fill us but we still have our main meals to come. Mine is the vegetable yaki soba. At £7.50 this large noodle dish is good value. The vegetables are lovely and crispy and the sauce is mildly spicy and so flavoursome.
The real star of the evening though is the cha siew ramen (£8.60) – or pork ramen – my friend has ordered. They finish it with the impressive statement that it is better than any ramen they have tasted in Asia.At the end of our meals I am amazed that we’ve managed to eat everything on our plates but when the food is this good you can’t leave any behind. And when the food and service is this good, we will certainly return for more.