Thursday, December 13, 2012


 Sakura is the old guard sushi place in Indy—I think it opened when I was in high school (Lord, I’m old) and was the only one of its kind for awhile. Nowadays, sushi is everywhere, and in varying quality.  I am pretty sure the décor has not changed one iota since it opened, right down to the fake flowers hanging on the walls.  Honestly, I am surprised I haven’t written about it before—we have been lots of times, although the last time we went I swore I would never come back because the service was so horrible (and of course we were with the kids).  It can get crazy crowded, and when it does I find often it seems the staff sort of hovers in the back corner and the sushi making becomes progressively slower.

I started with a bowl of miso.  As I have said before, I have never really found a lot of variation in miso soup other than sometimes they have a little  more tofu (yay, this one did!), or a little more seaweed.  Other than that, what I can say about it was that it was scorching hot. Burned my tongue hot, which is not a great precursor to sushi, but oh well.
Anyway, I was in the mood for sushi, it is probably one of two of the closest sushi places to my house, and it was still early enough that we knew it wouldn’t be too crowded yet.  Also, as a bonus, sushi is 20% off at Fridays for lunch.  We ordered three different rolls to share—the crunch (around $6-7, it was a special), the rock ‘n’ roll ($8.40), and the Gabe roll ($6.30).  The crunch roll was good—pretty straightforward—it was shrimp, krab, and avocado on the inside with little tempura bits on top.  Even though I don’t usually order things with krab, I went with it because it sounded like a good basic roll, and I like the little crunchy bits.  They served it on top of a little spicy mayo which was nice to give it a touch of heat—otherwise the roll didn’t have a ton of flavor on its own.

Hubby’s favorite was definitely the Gabe roll. Basically, this is Sakura’s version of a spicy tuna roll—however; the quality of it is much higher than most sushi places.  They actually call it tuna tartare, and it is nice chopped pieces of Ahi—it is mixed with green onions, flying fish roe, and “spicy sauce.”  They fill the inside of the roll with it and then mound it on top as well.  It is mounded so high, it is nearly impossible to gracefully fit it into your mouth.  I ended up sort of eating the top of the stuff on its own and then the roll.  It was good, but there was nothing really to break up all the tuna salad type texture. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

The last roll (rock ‘n’ roll) had a lot more going on, but it was probably the least favorite of both of us.  So it had the seaweed on the outside, then rice, then avocado, smelt roe, eel and crab.  The whole thing was deep fried for 20 seconds so it was slightly warm and had a very light tempura batter.  It seemed like it had all the things I liked, but there was something that was just a little too strong about it—maybe too much eel sauce, maybe the very generous amount of smelt roe—it just came across as overly heavy—it was hard to really taste the various ingredients.

In past visits, I have also had udon which was pretty good (love the poached egg in there)—and a nice idea on a cold day (although if it’s Friday, you can’t really pass up 20% off).  I posted my picture from that visit, just for fun. I appreciate that they served the tempura on the side so it didn’t get soggy.

I know Sakura is the original sushi in Indy, but I can’t say it is the best in my opinion—although I am sure there are those that would disagree.  But it is nice that we have so much variety these days.

7201 North Keystone
Indy  46240
Sakura Japanese on Urbanspoon


  1. IMO it is the best place for Sushi (for the price) in Indy. It also helps that it is less than 2 miles from my house too... 

  2. I know a lot of people feel that way...

  3. I would also have to agree that it's my absolute favorite at an affordable price point.  I actually just reviewed it myself (sadly, no pics as I snarfed down my food without thinking to snap a pic first):

  4. Which do you think is the best?? Mikado downtown is really disappointing. Sushi Bar in Broad Ripple is good, but not great (although you really can't beat their lunch deal). Naked Chopstix is fine, but not amazing. I remember really liking Asaka the one time I've been there. Which place do you really love?

  5. Hannah, Far and away my favorite sushi is H2O. 

  6. IMO, none of the sushi places in town stands out as the hands down best. Each have specific rolls that they do well. Right now, I am a very big fan of Sushi House at Geist, especially that they have a happy hour special M-Th 2-5pm where all of their rolls are 1/2 price. I also want to try Oishi Sushi on the Eastside as well.

  7. I like Sakura and think it's good but it is always so crowded.  The noise level is unbearable, for the price and much more favorite is Oishi.  And admittedly, it is not far from my house.  I do want to try H20 at some point.

  8. You're right about sushi being everywhere these days.  I was recently at Walgreens and sushi was being offered in their food section.

  9. I really makes you wonder who is buying their sushi at Walgreens? And where does it come from?

  10. Went to Sakura for the first time last night. When setting up plans for dinner with a friend who lives on that side of town & was open to trying sushi, I saw Sakura on and made the suggestion. Good choice—we had a delicious experience (and saved $5). Service was fine; she was friendly, kept our glasses filled, and checked on us a few times, but had to be flagged when we were ready for the check.

    I made a reservation for 3 people on a Wednesday at 6:30 PM to be on the safe side but it wasn't necessary. While the restaurant was plenty busy, there were several tables open and no wait. The dining room is not big but it's not tiny either, and the decor is tasteful. We waited (I'm guessing) 10 minutes for our rolls to come out after we finished our appetizers but I didn't really keep track because we were chatting and, having had starters, not starving.

    We started with gyoza ($4.95, fried Japanese dumplings with special sauce) and zaru soba ($7.25, cold buckwheat noodles with a dipping sauce). I saw in other reviews that people liked them so I gave something other than edamame a try as a sushi appetizer. I liked them both. I don't know if either is made in house, but they were both tasty as prepared with the sauces. The waitress saw that we would be sharing the noodles so she brought 3 bowls of sauce, which I thought was nice.

    I thought we might get 5 (or 6) rolls to share but our friend said he was *very hungry* so we ordered 7. It was too much! We tried everything but he ended up taking about a roll's worth home. No big deal—midnight snack!

    Clockwise from next to ginger:
    Sea Eel & Cuke ($5.30) — COOKED SEA EEL, CUCUMBER
    Soft Shell Crab ($8.40) — SOFT SHELL CRAB,SPICY SAUCE

    Overall our favorite was the soft shell crab. No surprise there—so many reviewers said it was their favorite. The Huz liked Bob's second best. I may have liked Rock 'n Roll second best but I might have to make another trip to be sure; I did like Bob's a lot too. Not sure what our friend's second favorite was but he did go back for the last piece of sea eel + cuke.

    All of the sushi was very good. Fish tasted fresh and flavors were bold. My only complaint was that so many of our rolls had a similar creamy, mayo-based sauce. I chalk that up to choosing poorly, I guess. I try to get a good variety of hot/cold, cooked/raw, and fillings/toppings in our order but (1) the menu isn't super descriptive and (2) I only saw one deep-fried roll on there. Maybe I missed something...? I did tend toward the cheaper rolls so that we could try a bunch while keeping dinner affordable, so maybe the upper end of the menu deserves a closer look next time.

    I will also say that many of the rolls were hard to get in one bite...and I'm open to taking distastefully large mouthfuls. I ended up using my fingers and was caught more than once by the waitress mid-bite. Since I had already asked for (and received) a fork, I got comfortable with the idea that I am just an American who does things in bad form.

    Unrelated to the meal—I had two coupons with me, one for $4 off $40 and one for $5 off $50. Since our bill was over $60, we used the $5 coupon. I looked around the dining room on the way out to see if there was a table spending over $40. I saw a table with four older people, each with a platter, so I went over and offered them the other coupon. Just as I though, "This lady is going to think I'm crazy," she gave me a high five! That's just the kind of thing that makes a cheapo like me smile.