Review: Sakura, Bury St Edmunds - 'A different, fun dining experience in one of Bury's most iconic buildings'
PUBLISHED: 16:17 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 05 November 2019
Mark Heath and his wife Liz went to visit the recently-opened Sakura Japanese restaurant in Bury St Edmunds for a Sunday lunch. Here's what they made of it.
Ever since the historic Cupola House in Bury St Edmunds was gutted by fire in June 2012, the beautiful town of Bury has been lacking one of its culinary focal points.
At the time of the fire it was a Strada - a chain no longer in the town - and, after it re-opened following lengthy repairs and refurbishment in May 2017, Bourgee took residence. But they lasted less than a year, closing in April 2018.
Sakura, a restaraunt aimed at giving customers an authentic Japanese dining experience, hopes to enjoy more success, having opened in the iconic building in August.
Eager as ever to try new eateries, we popped along on a Sunday afternoon. Straight away, it was obvious we were in for something very different from previous offerings!
The rotating neon sign on the front door certainly catches your eye - one wonders what the Bury Society make of that - as does the pink blossom-packed interior.
As we were shown to our table, another surprise - we were asked to take our shoes off and deposit them in a box before we entered the dining room.
And we entered said room walking above table level - you actually have to slide down into your table, while servers walk around on the connecting walkway, and crouch down to talk to you. Proper Japanese style, I'm assured.
There was more too. Our waitress gave us a buzzer with three buttons - service, bill and cancel, hopefully self-explanatory, and, furnished with menus too, we were off and running.
We ordered up a couple of pints of Asahi lager, and mulled an extensive menu list - both the lunchtime Bento box offerings and the larger dinner menu.
Our waitress duly arrived on cue, and we ordered up the tempura prawn and chicken gyoza side dishes - and she passed the test by asking if we wanted them separately as starters. We did.
After a fairly long wait - upwards of 20 minutes - they duly arrived, with an apology from our server. Noted. The food was decent though, nice light tempura and tasty, soft gyozas. Maybe a little cooler than ideal, but not offensively so.
Onto the mains - chicken fried noodles for me and a chicken teriyaki bowl for my better half.
They arrived much quicker than the starters, and my noodles were delicious - well-cooked noodles, not too greasy, with a freshness and crunch from assorted vegetables and a goodly amount of chicken. I was more than happy.
Across the table, Liz wasn't quite as content. While the sweet and sticky teriyaki sauce was tasty, it did get a little overbearing by the end of the dish.
And, although it was served with two pieces of ocra as garnish, for her, a fresh vegetable like pak choi would have been a welcome addition which would have helped cut through the sweetness of the sauce. The portion was so generous that it defeated her.
Now, of course, it was time for the monthly 'have you got room for desert?' chat. On this occasion, full of noodles and rice, I'm afraid the answer was no!
Thus, the 'bill' button on our buzzer was pressed and it arrived in a matter of seconds. We clambered out from our table, retrieved our shoes and wandered back out into the thrum of Sunday afternoon in Bury, having certainly had a more interesting experience than your average Sunday lunch!
A vast offering, from the draught Japanese lager we picked, to the likes of bubble tea and sake.
Unless you're very particular about a specific beer or wine, I think you'll be ok here.
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So important, of course - and serving in Sakura offers its own unique challenges, given the layout and table set-up.
Our waitress was excellent, I thought. As well as the usual timely and polite exchanges, at one point I dropped one of my chopsticks - and barely a minute later, having heard the clatter of stick on floor, she appeared with a new set for me to use. Outstanding.
Worried about sitting in socked feet in a restaurant in the winter months?
Don't be - Sakura has heated floors to keep your toes toasty. At times, it's a little too toasty, but still a nice touch.
Although Liz was pleased the toilets were spotless when she visited them shoeless!
The one star elephant in the room
Back in September, Sakura scored just one star for food hygiene in the Food Standards Agency ratings.
Such a rating dictates the business must make 'major' or 'urgent' improvements in order to earn a higher rating during the next visit by an inspector.
It looked clean enough to us, but obviously we weren't privy to a look inside the kitchens!
With Sakura located in the heart of Bury, there is no dedicated parking - but there's plenty around the town within a five or ten minute walk.
Our meal came to just over £45, which I thought was about right.
I'd certainly say my noodles, while Liz probably enjoyed the prawns most.
A different, fun dining experience in one of Bury's most iconic buildings