Every week when I drive to campus I pass by this pink and yellow Japanese restaurant called ‘Sakura Express’. It catches my eye because on the window it advertises some difficult-to-find Japanese dishes like yakisoba and udon. I’ve been meaning to try it out and finally gave it a go this Tuesday before a meeting on campus.
CASH REGISTER TREATS: 10! When I ordered at the cash register I looked to the right and was surprised with the most incredible basket of treats ever. HAICHU! My all time favorite Japanese candy! Back when I moved back to the states from Japan, I would always harass my dad to pick up tons of Haichu when he went back for business, and was thrilled when I went to Epcot years ago and found some. A couple of months ago I found some in a 7-Eleven in DC, so I wasn’t completed shocked, but definitely pleased 🙂 They also had Pocky, and appropriate babies dressed up as peacocks. CLASSIC!
FOOD OPTIONS: 9. When it comes to Japanese food there are some definite staples in the states, but not all of my favorite Japanese dishes. This place does a great job of covering more ground. The classic sushi, hibachi and tempura were all available, PLUS udon and yakisoba. There was no tankatsu or curry, so I have to take off 2 points, but I was still definitely pleased.
FOOD SWAP: So we decided that rather than commit to only one dish, we’d get one yakisoba and one hibachi and share. So I went to the counter and ordered a chicken hibachi and a chicken/shrimp yakisoba. I’m almost 90% positive that’s what I ordered (I’ll allow for a 10% chance of error, although I think that’s an overestimate), however when she brought out the food they were both hibachi. So she said I must have ordered wrong, while I’m pretty sure she heard wrong (no way to know for sure). I felt really bad asking for her to replace it, knowing it might have been my mistake, BUT we did go for the yakisoba in the first place. So we asked really nicely for her to switch it out.
I’m pretty sure she now hates us, spit in our food, and immediately called someone and started complaining about us in Chinese (yup, not even Japanese). Still enjoyed the soba though 🙂
FOOD: 7. The food definitely wasn’t super authentic Japanese hibachi or yakisoba, but it was still pretty good for pretty reasonable prices. It seems anytime you want authentic Japanese food you have to get sushi or hibachi at a fancy Japanese place, neither of which are cheap. This place is more along the lines of a cheap Chinese restaurant, but with Japanese cuisine.
Plus, they had the delicious ‘shrimp sauce’ that I loved at Kanki. Definite bonus points.
SIGNS ALL OVER THE RESTAURANT: At first I didn’t think twice about them until Scott pointed them out. All over the restaurant were handmade signs clearly giving directions to obnoxious college students who must consistently cause them problems. Warnings of putting soda into water cups (watch out, you’ll have to pay full price!), throwing out the trays (apparently that’s a no go) and where and when to order your sauces, there were a total of about 5-7. I wish I had some pictures…
Next time we visit I’m fully expecting a sign at the register, “Please pronounce all orders clearly and correctly the first time. We will not replace any misordered items.”
Considering it’s close proximity to campus, and my love for Japanese food, it’s a pretty safe bet I’ll be returning. That is, if the woman working there doesn’t throw me out…