Sakura II (St. Paul, MN)

Sakura was the last restaurant I ate at before the pandemic closures began in March 2020. I stopped in for lunch by myself, sat at the bar and had an enjoyable meal of not-exceptional but entirely acceptable sushi. That may sound like damning with faint praise but in Minnesota it’s actually saying a lot. Thanks to the pandemic, it took a little over two years for me to go back and this time I went with the family. In the interim they’ve stopped lunch service and are now only open for dinner. Our plan had actually been to eat dinner that Sunday at Kyatchi’s St. Paul location but they closed unexpectedly for a few days for Covid-related reasons. Our kids had been promised Japanese food and so we pivoted to Sakura. I am glad to report that it didn’t disappoint on this occasion either.

It isn’t just the hours that have changed. They have new menu cards and the contents don’t seem to be identical either. Which is not to say that there have been major changes. There are still a number of appetizers, entrees and teriyaki and tempura selections (and combos) to choose from. The sushi offerings seem much the same—a standard selection of nigiri and rolls plus the more baroque selection of “Wild” rolls, each named for a Minnesota Wild player.

We ordered a range of things. A few appetizers to start: the yaki tori (chicken skewers), gyoza, beef short rib and agedashi tofu. The skewers and the short rib were the pick of this lot. The younger boy then ate most of a teriyaki-tempura combo while his brother ate some of that and some sushi—his interest in which gets more expensive with each outing. The few bites I got of the chicken and tempura were tasty enough. The missus and I each got an order of the Sakura sushi combo, which features miso soup, 8 pieces of nigiri and tuna rolls. On the night the nigiri on the combo included tuna, hamachi/yellowtail, salmon, snapper/tai, albacore, ika/squid, shrimp and escolar. All were more than acceptable if nothing noteworthy. We also added on some extra pieces: ikura (good), unagi/eel (decent), uni/sea urchin roe (okay) and hotate/scallop (decent). And I ate one of the pieces of mackerel from the older boy’s selection.

For a look at what we ate launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for thoughts on service and to see how much it all cost.

We were there at 6 pm on a Sunday but the restaurant was quite busy and kept getting busier. They seem a little under-staffed right now—as many places currently are—which meant service was occasionally a bit ragged but nothing worth getting exercised about. We had a good time and a good meal. Indeed, we all agreed that we liked this meal better than our outing at Saji Ya in pretty much all respects. It’ll probably become our family go-to for sushi in Minnesota.

Price? With tax and tip it came to $232. A bit high for the quality in the abstract but paying a little short of $60/head for a meal involving a lot of seafood is par for the course. You could certainly get out of there for a lot less per head if you didn’t order as much sushi.

Okay, coming up next: a fine dining report, either from 112 Eatery where we ate this past weekend or from Myriel in St. Paul where we are scheduled to eat this coming weekend.



2 thoughts on “Sakura II (St. Paul, MN)

  1. Glad to read this positive report – Sakura is one of our faves, but it’s been awhile.

    On another front, maybe you or one of your readers can prove me wrong, but I think most Japanese places use frozen pre-battered tempura in their kitchens – i.e. it’s all out of a bag from the freezer. I am quite sure Sakura doesn’t do this, however. (And your pics show this quite well.) If anyone can shed some light on this I would appreciate it.


  2. I don’t know if it’s still the case (was before the pandemic) and it is not clear from their Web site, but Sakura used to have a Happy Hour that was a pretty good deal if you didn’t need to go omakase (or start during HH for drinks and prelims and then go with the specials/chef’s choice.


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