Monday, August 18, 2008

Izakaya Sakura Photo Menu Project - Part One

I recently had two lunches at Izakaya Sakura that is probably a one time experience for the sake of my Izakaya Sakura Photo Menu Project. Why am I doing this?

Well I've collected enough photos over the years as a lunch regular that I decided to share it since they weren't doing much good sitting in my iPhoto library.
And since I've already tried most of their lunch offerings, to try a few more to complete wouldn't be so hard.. and so I thought. Sakura had changed their menu a few times since and it started to become sort of checklist game to try photographing them all.

While the Rib Eye Wafu-Steak previously at $16.50 was already the most expensive offering on their menu, I noticed this day it had considerably gone up to a whopping $24!
It was explained to me that it was a larger, thicker cut of better quality beef attained from a new source (forgot to ask where). Since it was Sunday (the only day the Wafu-Steak is available) I decided to go for it.

Wow quite a portion indeed. I wasn't asked how I'd like it done but it came a nice Medium with a bit of pink still remaining in the center.

The "Japanese Style" Wafu-Steak may vary place to place but there is usually some form of grated Daikon Radish involved. Also you may often find it lightly simmered in a sauce after it is grilled which was the case here. A lightly sweet Soy Sauce based flavor with lots of Garlic and Crushed Black Pepper. The Steak had a nice amount of Good Fat and was not at all chewy and tender for a Rib Eye. The grated Daikon was in the accompanied slight tart Ponzu dipping sauce and was nice at intervals to cut some of the fat (not that it bothered me one bit!).

And because this is Wafu, I can have it my way..

On top of a bed of white rice and eaten with chopsticks. Mmm...

I really enjoyed the meal but did wish I tried the previous $16.50 version to compare (and photo document). If I had another Wafu-Steak craving and it happened to be on a Sunday, I definitely would consider ordering it again.

Next is the limited quantity, daily changing, Bento Box Lunch ($12).
As long as I have been visiting, I had only recently tried this for the first time. As much as the menu list tempted me, the thought of having a luke-warm meal at a sit down lunch never excited me I guess. But knowing I'd need to try it one of these days and the description this day was pretty enticing, it was hard to pass up.

One of the enticements was the U-Maki. A nickname for Unagi "rolled" in a Dashimaki Tamago Omelet. You can see a great demonstration of one being made on YouTube here.

I enjoyed it a lot but the single bite-size piece was a bit of a tease. Wished they had an Appetizer portion on their lunch menu. Perhaps it is available at night but for the most part I'm a by day Sakura visitor..

Other nice things to be had in the Top Right corner was the Tarako Spaghetti.. Had a light buttery flavor but was also quiet on the actual Tarako this day.

The Crab Cream Croquette was also bite-sized made for the bento.

Time for a rice break..
Since the bento was supplied with a packet of flavored Nori, I went ahead and proceeded with what I call the Poor Man's Sushi.. :)

You take a slice of Nori (dipped in Soy Sauce optional), place it on your white rice and with a wide pinching motion, wrap the two with your chopsticks. It creates what looks like a Mini Maki. :)

The Sanma (Saury) simmered Nitsuke style was quite nice. Most of the typical strong smokey flavor of the Saury was gone and everything was very tender including the bones which were completely edible.

The sweet simmered beef with ginger in the lower right was also very tasty.

While I at first thought the Daikon Radish cooked with Ground Chicken seemed to lack some sodium..

..the Salt Grilled Mackerel was well seasoned and it seemed to work together as the whole bento meal was concerned.

I had all the above while munching on the characteristic Sakura salad of crispy veggies and a crumbled boiled egg / light mayo dressing of sorts. The light miso soup here is always a good palate cleanser and you can read about my weird eating habit of it Here.

Looking back at the list, I realize they had mistakenly mislabeled the Beef with Rolled (Stuffed) Cabbage.. I guess that can happen when the menu rotates daily.

Hope you enjoyed it and surely more to come! :)

Izakaya Sakura, 3904 Convoy St #121, San Diego, CA 92111

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