The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | Sakura Japanese Cuisine offers cozy atmosphere, considerable portions

Presentation+of+a+meal+at+Sakura+located+at+the+corner+of+Race+and+W.+Main+Street+on+Jan.+27.
Annisyn Krebs-Carr
Presentation of a meal at Sakura located at the corner of Race and W. Main Street on Jan. 27.

There’s a variety of Asian restaurants to try in the Champaign-Urbana area, and with so many options, picking the perfect place to eat can be overwhelming. 

Yet, a standout among C-U’s food choices is Sakura Japanese Cuisine. The restaurant’s beautiful atmosphere, excellent service and flavorful food are just a few factors that set it apart from the rest.

Located at 132 W. Main St. in Urbana, Sakura is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5-10 p.m. for dinner. Its cozy but refined atmosphere is the perfect place for a nicer dinner or a casual lunch with friends. 

What makes Sakura truly distinct from the abundance of incredible Asian restaurants in the area are its portions. The prices aren’t all that cheap — you can find cheaper on Green Street — but the portion sizes make them well worth it; not to mention that there is a diverse selection of foods on the menu, which ranges from ramen, sushi, bentos, yakitori, salads, poke bowls and more. 

When you sit down, it’s impossible not to immediately notice the delicate presentation of the table. A tablecloth is neatly laid out with a set of elegantly designed chopsticks and a cup pristinely situated on top — one of the many examples of the smallest details that help to provide Sakura with faultless presentation.

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    I ordered the beautifully presented chicken teriyaki bento for $16.99. Sticky rice, sushi, fried shrimp, fried and steamed vegetables, teriyaki chicken and egg rolls were all placed delicately on a large plate — enough food for at least two people.

    The variety of different foods in one entree provided a distinct tasting experience: a fine combination of textures, colors and tastes that exquisitely combined the savory, sweet, salty and sour. 

    The vibrant colors of the sushi sitting in the corner of the plate and the bright greens of the vegetables perfectly contrasted the array of browns on the plate, which ranged from the gorgeously seasoned chicken to the flaky fried shrimp. A slice of orange also adorned the plate, adding to the vibrant display of color.

    But the tender teriyaki chicken was the main focus of the meal. It was glazed in a syrupy teriyaki sauce rich in flavor and paired with perfectly seared peppers and broccoli.

    This portion of teriyaki chicken alone could be a decent-sized meal, but it’s graciously enhanced by the other aspects of the bento.

    One of these aspects worth mentioning was the four California rolls set on the corner of the plate — a pleasant surprise that I wasn’t expecting but that ended up pulling the dish together. 

    The combination of flavors and textures made even the simple roll taste divine, heightening the flavor of the plate altogether. 

    The mouthwatering food, warm atmosphere and quick, friendly service helped to create a lovely dining experience. 

    Soft yellow lighting reflected against dark wooden floors, casting a dim glow in the restaurant to create a mellow and cozy feel, while still holding onto a sense of elegance.

    As I dined at early dinner time on Saturday, Sakura wasn’t very busy. Just a few other people murmured in the booth behind me while others were seated at the sizable bar in the corner of the restaurant. 

    However, the lack of people made for a more intimate dining experience, giving the restaurant an added sense of homeyness to an already comfortable atmosphere. 

    Next time you and your friends can’t decide where to eat after a 30-minute discussion, think about heading over to 132 W. Main St.

    You can experience the alluring comforts of Sakura Japanese Cuisine with just a short drive off campus or for all the car-less folks like me, a quick bus ride away. Either way, it’s simply a restaurant you have to try.

     

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