Sakura Zone

By weeklyvolcano on February 10, 2007

One of the reasons I'm not crazy about eating Sakura Japanese Steak House is that I don't like sharing tables with strangers. It sounds snooty, but it's really more Freudian than that. It's a enduring dread that dates back to my high school cafeteria, when I always wound up sitting at a giant round communal table with someone I didn't like or some honor-roll type who didn't like me. Finally, I just skipped lunch and spent that hour working cigarettes outside with all the other juvenile delinquents.

Last night, I experienced that same uncomfortable feeling when colleague Chris Butler decided it would be fun to check out Sakura, Tacoma’s Japanese steak house frozen in the ‘70s.

What happen to the fun?

A quartet of non-giggly teen girls, three families with very young kids, a couple half dead joined Chris and I around the teppan-yaki grill as if they were headed to the electric chair. 

Maybe if I was offered another Singapore Sling sometime during the meal I might have had a better time.

The same scenario unfolded at Sakura's other five grills.

It’s Friday night people!

Yes, our chef demonstrated masterful high-speed chopping, pepper-mill twirling, salt shaking and meat frying that goes with the job. But where was the witty repertoire?  Where was the art of flipping a cooked shrimp into one of our open mouths?  Where was my second drink?  He simply smiled and cooked.

My filet mignon dinner was tasty enough, but seeing the food â€"including bland ingredients such as mushrooms, zucchini and onion â€" deftly cooked inches away makes the experience seem like more of a culinary thrill than it really is.

But the theatrical, sensual ingredients â€" the tiny bowls of hot soup and cold salad, the noisy chopping and the sizzling oil that ignites into crackling flames â€" are far more important than the food. Once the chef had packed up his cart and rolled it off, it felt as if the curtain had come down on a play.

Afterward, Chris and I said our goodbyes and disappeared into the Tacoma night.

Weird. â€" Jake de Paul