Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sakura experience

Last evening we went out to try some Japanese delicacy to Sakura, a Japanese steakhouse. The word sakura in Japanese means flowering cherry or cherry blossoms. I have always wanted to taste sushi, but for some reason or the other I keep postponing it. Probably it is the thought of consuming raw fish that turns me off. But I always love to learn and experience the different food cultures and Japanese was one that I had yet to taste. So off we went and were warmly welcomed into a place adorned with huge murals of cherry blossoms and other Oriental artifacts. The ambiance was perfect. We were comfortably seated in the grill section of the steakhouse and Sam promised me that it will be a mesmerising affair. We decided our food to be simple, so he went for a grilled salmon whereas I chose to play safe with a grilled shrimp and sauteed mushrooms platter. We waited till we savored the last drop of osumashi (the Japanese clear soup) and the tricky miso (a seasoning made with fermented rice and soybeans) dressed lettuce salad. Then came our chef wheeling a cart of veggies, raw salmon and shrimp and other condiments that were required for the preparation of our entrees. We were seated in a square fashion where the grill consisted the center of the arrangement. And as the restaurant boasts of "where everything happens before your eyes", the chef sputtered off the hot surface of the grill with water followed by the ingredients. The manner in which he used a chopping knife looked like sheer magic. For the next fifteen minutes he was on song slicing and chopping away to the tunes of his knife and the sizzle of the items on the grill. He did it so effortlessly, it looked no less than a performance. In no time the flames boomed, reaching the chimney and our salmon and shrimp turned a deep rust, that lip smacking, perfectly grilled colour. The spices and the sauces that were used in the preparation enveloped us in an aromatic fog. I felt like being transported to another part of the world, one where there were gardens choked with cherry blossoms, where the geisha (a female Japanese entertainer) served tea in her typical delicate and artful way in a chashitsu (a tea room). It seemed like the tea ceremonies from Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha came alive! Once the food was cooked, our magician chef ladled the food on our plates. Needless to say that such aesthetically prepared food that tickled all our senses soothed our hungry and eager taste buds. What's more, Sam even rated this as one of his best dinning experiences! It was truly a heavenly experience, one that I would love to go for again, probably some day in God's own land of the rising sun!

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