Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lunching @ Izakaya Sakura - The Last Stretch?

It's that time again. But trying not to make this a nerd novel like last time and instead ready to post photos. More than necessary like good old times. ;) And what would my blog be without the geeky Macro shots anyway, but first..

Since the weather has cooled off considerably, starting with a Zosui that is also my token not offered anymore lunch dish for this post. Whatever you think of Sakura you gotta admire their spirit in trying to offer the many non-typical Japanese dishes that they do (and tackling this during lunch hours even).

The Uni to Ikura no Zosui (Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe Rice Soup?, $8.50).

The Uni and Ikura may be surprising to see cooked up this way but the dish has a fresh seafood taste that doesn't resemble a deep simmer like say a Bouillabaisse. Here a rather rustic meal that I enjoyed greatly and made me feel maybe like a Ryoshi fish boat captain!? Haha.

The Salmon Roe looks added right before serving but I noticed a few Uni on the base of the clay pot that imparted a very nice smoky yaki-uni flavor. The piece of Buri yellowtail I can't remember if it were included here or the meal coming up next, sorry, bad food blogger.. But the dropped egg to tie things together is typical of a Zosui. Shiitake and eringi mushrooms, spinach were others I remember.

Sakura's Kimchi Nabe (Kimchi Pot, $8.50) was more of a Japanese Nabemono that was inspired by the Korean Kimchi Chigae (Jjigae).

Was only mildly spicy but had a nice sesame oil aroma and flavor that really stimulated the appetite.

Pork, tofu and egg made this a substantial meal with the veggies and enoki. As you can see dumped some rice in it later. I must have been hungry this day though because I also had a Saba Misoni (Miso Simmered Mackerel, $3.50) side. Very good as usual.

May be redundant but double posting a few meals.. I hate wasting food and food photos.
The Una-don (listed as BBQ Eel Don, $9.50) I've ordered more than a few times.

I always felt the way they lay a bed of Kizami Nori and shredded Kinshi Tamago here was really nice to cut some of the sweetness of the sauce. Yay for that and Yum.

But what I've really been into lately was adding the Tororo (grated Japanese mountain yam) to it as I first mentioned on my bit on Ushinohi - Japan Eel Day. I asked for a dollar portion of the tororo this time..

Which was still a nice amount. The tororo really mellows out the flavors of the sauced grilled Unagi and I discovered later that this wasn't as an oddball rarity thing to do as I originally thought and it is known as the Unatororodon.

A couple before photos cause I'm a nerd like that..

Then jumping to an Oyako-don.. Hmm, funny now that I don't notice it on the menu but that's not a first (like how the Chicken-Katsu lunch set was also left out) and since I had it more than once now I'm pretty sure it is a full time offering.

A good volume and here with the nice addition of shiitake mushrooms. The eggs were cooked too well and too firm for me but it's not unusual since it seems many Americans have an aversion to runny eggs.(?)

Other than this the kaeshi broth was robust and nicely flavored.

The most recent order (early this year) I remembered to ask for the eggs Hanjyuku "half cooked" and it was definitely much better.

The eggs were very soft and retained its lively bright color. The chicken was also more tender and it would be the only way I would order this again.

Since I'm on a Donburi roll.. Here is Sakura's Sukiyaki-don ($8).

If you like gyudon beef bowls, this one is kicked up nicely with large cubes of tofu, sliced onions and also Shirataki noodles. The flavor is appropriately lightly sweet (and not salty like you know where). There are usually a limited number of this served per day.

If you order the Ten-Don ($9) you get two large shrimp tempuras..

But the version here is also tamago-toji sealed with an egg. This maybe further ensures that you will not be leaving hungry but also a trade off that the tempura would not be crispy. A matter of preference maybe but as with the Oyakodon I really enjoyed the flavor of the robust broth.

The Panko breaded Shrimp Ebi Fry as a Teishoku set ($8.50) on the other hand is a crunchy crispy delight. Another classic in the sometimes strange world of the Western influenced Japanese Yoshoku cuisine.

Served with a few fried zucchinis prepared the same way. The usual sweet demi glace dip is nice but I preferred it more with the light tartar sauce.

I feel I'm gaining weight just by looking at these photos so I'm switching to sobas..
The Ten Zaru Soba is not on the lunch menu but you can still order it. I think it was $8.

I admit preferring to have my cold soba dipped into the concentrated ten-tsuyu this way nine times out of ten. Mmm.

Below is the regular Tempura Soba ($8). May look exactly like the last I posted but this is the cold version, ha.

Nothing much to complain here except maybe the broth was rather luke warm and not cold. I think the soba wasn't shock chilled/rinsed in ice water but just a guess. A good shake of Shichimi Pepper, always a good thing for me. The Onigiri's filling was Mentaiko.

This day I ordered a side of Natto. I know I can have this at home but maybe it's having to julienne that Hari Shoga ginger so fine like they do, haha.

I'm squeezing in a Japanese Curry Rice dish because the thought of having to post several of these at once gives me mental food coma. Sakura's like most places is offered with different toppings. Shown is the Ebi Fry Curry (Curry and Rice with Fried Shrimp, $10).

Retro can mean a lot of things but I often use it to describe the Japanese Curry here. Mild and rich, chunky and creamy, all while being a nostalgic off trend yellow that reminds me of the 70's(?). Won't be winning any awards for visual appearance but it's somehow addictingly tasty and great with the miso soup.

I think I made good progress at sharing my attempt at trying everything. This is still going to take a bit more time to complete since I noticed a few new items again on the fresh seafood section of the menu.

The Gyokai Natto Don (Seafood and Natto Don, $12.50). I think Gyokai at times can also mean shellfish but we'll see. The other two are the Albacore Tuna Tataki ($8) and a Spicy Fish Salad ($8.50) brought over from the dinner menu. Now if only the elusive Sushi Chef would be there the time when I lunch.......

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

My list of past posts on Lunches @ Sakura:
Ginger Pork
Unagi-don (+tororo)
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
Curry Udon
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


KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - I think by now you have your own person lunch table at Sakura! ;o)

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirk, haha! I do have a favorite table though, it usually gets the best light.. Cheers. :)

imjustatree said...

haha i was about to say the same thing as you could write a whole book on the place w/ all you've done...

Anonymous said...

OMG, I don't even know where to start but I'm starving now after looking at all those dishes.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Sawyer, funny I'm really just another regular there (I notice many of the same faces). It just happens that I'm the one with the blog hobby that's all, haha. ;)

Hi CAB! I had many more I could've shared but many were fried dishes (katsu, karage, tempura, etc.) so I didn't want to cause deep-fry visual overload, haha. My next post is going to be tough to try to balance this out.. Hope your kitchen project is going well!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Does that mean you ate the whole menu? The eggy mixture looks like VNese omelets.

Dennis K. said...

Hi WC! If I don't count the sushi portion of the menu I think I have about three left. I guess it's like stamp collecting for some haha. Ooh, a Vietnamese omelet sounds really good..

Kirbie said...

I love these posts! So thorough and so many photos. I need to stop reading your posts while I'm at work because now I really want to go to Sakura.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirbie! Thanks. I try hard to not over hype the place, but just showing my appreciation maybe. It's been fun too. :)