úterý 27. října 2009

Lunch at Sakura

The number of new sushi restaurants and bars in Prague has been steadily growing in the last couple of years. Sushi is the ultimate “trendy” food and therefore it appeals to many people.

However when it comes to quality, Prague’s sushi places don’t shine. The only exception in my opinion is The Sushi Bar, which is very pricy, and maybe the more affordable Sushi point chain. I have heard some good things about Nagoya, but haven’t tried it yet. The Euro magazine issued a list of Prague's best restaurants and the only Japanese restaurant in this list in Mashhana., I've been there about a year ago and thought it was just fine.

The main problem of sushi in central Europe are the ingredients, the execution and the prices. In a country where the regular lunch menu in an average restaurant costs 100-120crowns not many customers can justify paying 100crowns for 1 single nigiri. But the thing is that high quality fish costs even more than that, as prices in The Sushi Bar suggest. So what do these new restaurateurs do to reduce prices and tempt more customers? They put way too much vinegar into the rice so that it overpowers the flavor of the not-so-fresh fish, they set up AYC running sushi belts, they employ self-trained cooks etc etc. I think many people know what I am talking about, but let me tell you that the sushi problem in Prague is diminutive in comparison to Moscow or Kiev. There you’ll find sushi places virtually on every corner and the quality of food in the vast majority of them is bad to say the least.

To be more just I have to say that the sushi in Sakura is not the worst in Prague, the running sushi in Palladium or Planet sushi (a Russian chain) are worse. Plus, we have been there for lunch, which is the more budget friendly option, maybe they do better at dinner but I’m not sure if this is the correct way to go for a restaurant.
The place itself is spacious and has a pleasant outside terrace. We chose from the lunch menu, which includes several sushi sets with miso soup and many Chinese style main dishes. The main menu is very extensive, they even offer whole Peking duck…I know it's weird.

I ordered the Sakura menu 12 for 330 crowns, my fellow diner ordered the Sakura menu 2 for 180 crowns and the chuka wakame salad for 90 crowns from the main menu. My set should have contained miso soup and tea, but I never got the tea, even after I inquired about it. Were they out of tea? They serve Yamasa soy sauce here, which is not my favorite as it is too salty for my liking. When we were placing our orders the waitress asked whether we wanted the soup. I asked whether it's really part of the set and she said yes, it is but they always ask the customer whether he/she wants the soup because many people end up not eating it, hmmmm.....

The miso soup was actually quite good, with soft silky tofu, lots of seaweed and with no MSG added as I thought.

The salad was alright but it was drenched in the sweetish vinegary dressing, it was virtually swimming in it. There was too little wakame in this wakame salad.

My sushi set contained 4 nigiri and 2 varieties of maki, california and salmon. It’s difficult to screw up a california roll and it was ok. But the other stuff was not so good. The tuna smelled bad so I didn’t touch it, I mentioned that to the waitress and she just shrugged. The prawn was one of these frozen butterflied prawns you see in Japanese stores and Makro. The salmon was probably the best item, at least is was fresh.

The other sushi set contained just one nigiri, the california rolls and cucumber maki. Again, the california roll was ok, so was the cucmber maki.
The rice itself was too vinegary, combine this with the extremely salty soy sauce and you will get the idea about the overall impression.
Was this a cheap lunch? No! The bill, with 3 bonaqua waters, was 700 crowns. And mind you, the place was packed with people!
Now let’s sum it up – I wasn’t given the tea I paid for, the tuna was smelly, the rice was too vinegary, the salad was not worth 90 crowns. The miso soup was good, the salmon was actually fine too. Was this lunch worth 700 crowns? No, we would’ve been better off in Mirellie which is a few minutes away.
What did I learn? Save money and go to The Sushi Bar!

**As I revisited the website of Sakura I was amazed to see that they have opened 2 other restaurants, one in Prague and one in Kladno. They do not seem to be suffering from recession, another proof of how popular sushi is becoming here.

2 komentáře:

  1. If you're up around Zizkov/Vinohrady, try Hanil. That's where I usually go.

  2. I read your review of this place, will check it out someday. Actually a friend of mine used to work there as a waitress years and years ago. This place must must have been around for 10 years at least.