Sakura Japanese Restaurant


By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Sakura is located on Essex St in Millburn, New Jersey just across the street from the Millburn train station. I first started going to Sakura out of sheer convenience. My family and I had grown quite close with the owners of a sushi restaurant around the corner, but they moved their business an hour away so we were forced to try somewhere new. As it turns out, Sakura is now a mainstay in my restaurant rotation.

The food
Like mostly all high quality sushi restaurants, Sakura offers an expansive selection of special rolls as well as both cold and hot appetizers.

During my most recent dining experience, I was offered a “tonight only” special: fatty toro tuna wrapped in avocado slices and topped with fish roe and the chef’s special sesame seed sauce. This was insanely delicious in that the toro was so fresh and flavorful. I can only hope that Sakura will start rotating this in more on the specials menu.

I also enjoyed a special containing shrimp tempura, spicy white fish, cucumber, crispy garlic inside, pepper tuna, salmon, and mango on top wrapped with special soy paper and ume-shiso powder. I’d not tried ume-shiso before nor did I know what it was prior to this trip to Sakura, but it was definitely a delicious addition to the dish.

On top of these extraordinary appetizers, I shared several special rolls with my parents. Sakura’s special rolls are as good and as fresh as the next guy’s, but the menu does have one roll that really stands out to me. The Triple 3 contains spicy tuna and avocado inside, which is wrapped in soy paper. Then, the roll is topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and three kinds of chef’s special sauce. The kicker? There’s no rice at all, but the flavor pairings make this roll better than any roll I’ve had with rice.

The drinks
Like many restaurants in New Jersey, Sakura is BYOB. Because of liquor licensing laws Sakura’s staff is not able to serve alcohol, but they do offer a variety of soft drinks including Japanese sodas, smoothies, and teas.

The service/ambience
I adore the servers at Sakura. They are sweet, knowledgeable, and happy to explain the menu. I am always happy to interact with waiters and waitresses who have a sense of humor and Sakura has no shortage of them.

The restaurant itself is cozy, but spacious inside. Even when seated at the tables in the middle of the room, I don’t find myself feeling exposed. The entrance has two sets of doors, so sitting towards the front in the winter won’t mean being cold and uncomfortable.

While I loved my old sushi spot around the corner from Sakura, I’m glad to have found such a reliable new place. This restaurant consistently provides a wonderful dining experience and I can’t imagine it finding its way off my list of top restaurants any time soon.