The Menu That Never Stops BlossomingCover Story Features
May 31, 2015
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
Mirroring the ethereal cherry blossom it is named after, Sakura Terrace started out as a seedling within Honolulu’s restaurant scene in November 2011, firmly planting its roots on King Street with an intimate dining space serving a small menu of donburi items. Over the next three and a half years, the restaurant steadily grew with the blossoming of authentic bentos, side dishes and elegant Japanese selections. Now, its fully flourishing menu showcases everything from fresh sushi to healthy salads — not to mention expanded bar offerings — and there’s no doubt that this eatery is in full bloom.
At the forefront of Sakura Terrace’s growth spurt is chief chef Takayuki Sekine, who joined the kitchen team more than a year ago. Presenting a refreshing departure from local-style preparations of Japanese food, the experienced chef imparts a true taste of Japan into the menu by fine tuning the subtle balance of flavors traditional dishes are heralded for.
“I want to be able to spread Japanese food to people who haven’t experienced a more traditional taste of it before,” says Sekine, who also prioritizes offering beautifully presented, high-quality cuisine at reasonable prices.
His special finesse can be tasted in popular bites such as Wafu Steak ($20), which presents tender Black Angus beef sizzling away on a hot plate. As the incredibly moist beef cooks to buttery perfection right at the table, patrons may dip each morsel into savory shio dare, citrusy ponzu and tangy onion sauces served on the side.
The restaurant’s authentic flavors are evident in Unagi Hitsumabushi Don ($20), a Nagoya specialty patrons will be hardpressed to find on other menus locally. Sekine recommends enjoying the dish in three mouthwatering steps: First, savor an unadulterated taste of the sweet eel and rice alone, then season the dish with wasabi and green onion for your next bite.
Finally, pour the accompanying hondashi fish broth into the bowl to transform the dish into a steaming chazuke (broth and rice mixture) overflowing with sweet-andsalty magic.
As a waiting list quickly forms for diners to snag a table in Sakura’s cozy yet upscale setting, complete with indoor and outdoor dining, seated customers can be found enjoying favorites such as Somen & Tempura Combo ($13). Light and fluffy vegetable and shrimp tempura pieces are set alongside cool somen noodles and dipping sauce.
Taking advantage of being in its prime season for satisfying a flowering number of loyal patrons, Sakura Terrace is gearing up to unveil new menu items. While many of the restaurant’s staples will remain, the revamped selections are inspired, in part, by customer feedback and will incorporate exciting salads such as Sakura-style Wafu Cobb Salad and Warm Salad.
These updated items will reflect Sekine’s ability to dress up his offerings with original flair. “As we evolve, I want to bring a more creative style of Japanese cuisine to the new menu,” he says.
Whether dining on seasoned classics or new favorites, all of Sakura’s regulars know to leave room for dessert. Sakura Parfait ($5.50) brings sheer joy with its unique assortment of Corn Flakes cereal topped with whipped cream and green tea or vanilla ice cream. Seriously delicious warabimochi, red bean paste, fresh fruit and crunchy wafer top off the sweet treat. Be sure to try house-made Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce ($5.50) and Big Flan ($5.50) as well, the latter of which boasts beyond silky crème caramel.
Just as each sakura flower stuns viewers with its beauty, this eatery’s edible blossoms are sure to impress patrons’ palates.
1240 S. King St., Honolulu
Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9:30 p.m.
Parking lot located behind the eatery; reservations highly recommended