Pardon my own personal renaming of Izakaya Sakura to さくら食堂 (Sakura Shokudo, or Sakura Diner).. But for lunch it's just the kind of place that I feel most at home especially in vibe. The casualness to slouch with a five o'clock stubble.. slurrp, pour, take as many photos of my meal as I wish.. whatever.
Aside from the new Curry Omurice ($10) lunch set, if you're a Sakura regular like me do you notice something different in the photo?
Brand new black tables. (And at least for me a prettier backdrop for my pics..) :)
The Karee Omuraisu (curry omelet rice) tasted pretty much as it looked without surprises.
The familiar Sakura's mild curry was ladled over a nicely executed omelet wrapped rice. Eggs still a bit runny inside to my liking.
A definite welcome to the lunch menu though I thought since the eggs made the already mild curry even milder, maybe the dish could've had a little more contrast between the wrapped rice vs. topping.
Some of the curry was used to quickly flavor the rice so the large portioned dish turned out a bit monotonous near the end. If dry curry seasonings were used for a savory but toastier omurice this could've been a big winner for at least my personal Japanese Yoshoku lunch choices are in the area. The Hayashi Omurice (while already having huge props for serving the only Hayashi dish in San Diego) is a bit too sweet for me at least in Sakura's rendition.
My quest to conquer Sakura's lunch menu has been a loong.. I don't expect or care for anyone to understand.. type of personal experiment. All I know is I'm going to finish what I started, haha.
But I've been reordering past favorites such as this Nikomi Hamburg Steak ($9) which isn't helping toward my goal, ha. The version here with a consistent firmer minimally fillerized beef patty, the topped egg also seems to always come a medium to well doneness. While both these could be more tender the nicely reduced and flavorful ground meat tomato sauce is what ties everything together imho.
The tomato sauce was especially flavorful this day where it was almost a shame that the standard Spaghetti plate had disappeared from the lunch menu.
I thought the Guratan Korokke tasted particularly good recently too.. (more butter in the bechamel?) Macaroni pasta, crimini mushrooms, onions.. All deep fried in panko crust. Crispy fried Carb heaven.
I still believe the Chicken Karaage at $3.50 is the best deal for a side here. Usually executed very well with the interior trapped with hot chicken juices and a nice crispy rendered skin on the outer.
This day the flour coating was a bit saltier than usual but I love to dip them in the provided tsuyu with grated daikon radish.
So having done this for a while what are my recommendations???
The Ginger Pork, Miso Marinated Broiled Salmon if you're in for something quick and tasty. The Buri Daikon or Salt Grilled Mackerel if you're in the mood for fish. The Sukiyaki-don if you like a beefier version of the classic gyu-don beef bowl while the Una-don usually doesn't disappoint either.. And of course any of the Kaisen-don fresh seafood bowls when the sushi chef is present. Many more but a quick list for now.
This day there were the usual Sakura kitchen quirks of staggered and/or late arriving meals at tables as well as the sushi chef nowhere in sight even after an hour of opening 12:30PM mark.. Despite this the patient patrons seemed to all have a smile on their faces at the end of their meal.
While I also enjoyed my meal, there is definitely some stiffer competition for Sakura this year..
Killing time I found an advert on Ramen Yakyudori (which I think is the place's official name) on Lighthouse magazine.. According to it it seems the yakitori skewer grilling will be limited to dinner only. A little sad but in some ways it's giving me a reason to buy that new camera I've been wanting maybe.. :) Every time I mention the place to my Japanese friends though they seem to have some reservations for it being a yakitori chain in origin. But as far as I feel and can imagine, they might as well be using all those chicken carcasses for a tasty ramen soup stock don't you think? :)
Okan is going to be open for lunch for a while longer (was originally planned for only three months ending last December). I kinda had the hunch but good news indeed while I'm reminded I have at least a couple visits worth of Okan lunch photos from last year I have yet to share.
I know I haven't been exactly extending my arms of unconditional love toward Curry House on my blog.. But a limited time Customer Appreciation $5.95 lunch special is a deal I can't refuse. :) I would maybe only recommend staying away from their pricey miso soup.
2010 is going to be a fun lunch year!
Kamome Shokudo (Seagull Diner), 2006
Izakaya Sakura, 3904 Convoy St #121, San Diego, CA 92111
New Years Osechi Bento
Saku-Ramen (Ver. 1 and 2), Karaage Teishoku, Curry Rice, Mix Tempura Lunch Set, Chicken Katsu-don, Curry with Nasu Eggplant, Steamed Chicken Mushidori no Teishoku, & Karaage, Hiyayakko, Crab Kani Cream Korokke sides
Uni to Ikura no Zousui, Kimchi Nabe, Saba Misoni (side), Una-don, Unatororo-don, Oyako-don, Sukiyaki-don, Ten-don, Ebi Shrimp Fry, Ten Zaru Soba, Ten Soba (cold), Natto, Ebi Fry Curry
Buri Daikon, Saba no Shioyaki (teishoku), Yasai Itame, Jyaga Tamago, Tensoba, & Sanma no Shioyaki, Mekabu Natto Yamaimo Iri, Saba Misoni, Tonjiru sides
Nagasaki Sara Udon, Nagasaki Champon, Chicken Teriyaki, Yakisoba (w/ egg), & Roll-Kyabetsu, Sanma Nitsuke, Guratan Korokke, Potato Salad sides
Kaki (Oyster) Fry, Chicken Katsu Curry, Chicken Katsu, Plain Omurice, Hayashi Omurice
Uni-don, Chirashi (1 and 2), Ikura-don, Negi Maguro Natto-don, Spicy Nakaochi-don, Tekka-don (+w/tororo)
Liver Nira, Ginger Pork, Garlic Chicken, Saba Amazu Ankake, Hata no Kinoko Ankake, Buri Teri, Steamed Chicken w/ Ponzu, and Tofu Dango, Aji Fry, Saba Shioyaki, Buta Kakuni sides
Hiyashi Chuka, Hiyashi Somen
Nikomi and Wafu Hamburg, Menchi Katsu, Subuta Dango, Mabo-don, & Hiyayakko, Agedashi Dofu, Yasai Kakiage, Karaage sides
Uni Spaghetti, Miso Marinated Broiled Salmon
Wafu Steak, Special Bento Box - 1
Menchi Katsu Sando