The staff at Sakura were disappointingly polite. When my friend Lucy took me there she warned that the staff at this cheap and cheerful Japanese restaurant near Oxford Circus were known for being rude. Sadly I can only report that the staff were brusque but efficient. I was really looking forward to some surly service but it was not to be. Apparently the rudeness occurs if you try to thwart the Sakura “system” which requires sitting down in a waiting area before being seated and not asking to be seated until all members of your party are at the restaurant. We complied with the system and so service while not overly friendly or attentive was not an issue. Damn!
Sashimi selection
The restaurant is reassuringly retro with fuzzy carpet tiles on the floor and laminate topped tables packed into the room. There is a sushi bar along one wall which is handy if you want to eat quickly or are a solo diner. The look is very no frills and Sakura couldn’t be further from slick designer Japanese restaurants like Nobu or Zuma. The focus is firmly on the food rather than the decor. The menu is pretty lengthy and extends to specials pinned up on hand written posters on the wall. There is a range of sushi and sashimi along with specialties such as shabu, shabu which we saw a few people ordering.

Nabeyaki udon
The sashimi selection (£11) was served without fanfare on a simple plate rather than a platter or presentation board. The sashimi was a perfect room temperature and tasted very fresh. The tuna in particular was as soft as butter. I also tried the nabeyaki udon (£9) which was a real feast. The large bowl of salty broth was packed with udon noodles, chunks of seafood and chicken, tempura vegetables and a poached egg. The tempura was a little on the soggy side as it had perhaps been sitting in the broth for too long but otherwise it was a pretty decent nabeyaki.
We drank green tea and tap water to accompany our meal which the waiting staff begrudgingly filled up when asked. At last … a little of the infamous bad service. That was really as bad as it got though and when it came time to pay I decided I would have been happy to put up with a lot more surliness given the bargain nature of our bill.
Essentials: 9 Hanover Street, Soho W1S 1YF (Ph 020 7629 2961) Tube: Oxford Circus
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
If you liked reading this you might be interested in Pham Sushi another low priced but good Japanese restaurant in London. Otherwise you could try this Japanese influenced recipe for salmon.
Sakura on Urbanspoon


  1. I’ve been craving sushi non-stop over the last week and dropped by Ten Ten Tei again. It wasn’t as good as I remembered, and I recently walked by Pham on a Sunday and it was closed. (So still have to try that). Thanks for the Sakura tip. It sounds like it’s not a destination but also not a bad place to drop by when you’re already in the neighborhood.

  2. that sounds great! since it’s not far from uni, i might pop in after classes this week… i’ve been craving japanese food recently!

  3. I’m always a bit surprised at bad service in Japanese restaurants as it’s usually so good. It’s a bit of a shock to the system! 😛

  4. Mmmm, that looks yummy! 🙂

  5. Very funny post, love it! I haven’t been to Sakura, I can’t believe I haven’t even heard of it. I will add to my hit list, thanks for that. Have you been to Asakusa in Mornington Crescent? It is again an incredibly cheap Japanee restaurant but the staff is quite friendly.

  6. American In London – We had a serious sushi craving heading to Sakura as well – sometimes it is the only thing you want

    The Passionate Cook – It is in a very handy location indeed could be perfect for an after uni snack

    Lorraine – Yes this is a restaurant with a difference

    Zoom Yummy – It was!

    London Foodie – No thanks for the tip

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