The Season’s BestCover Story Features
May 8, 2016
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
People often say there’s no time like the present, and at Sakura Terrace Japanese Cafe, that translates to dining on ingredients that are at their peak this time of year, all tied together in a delicious and elegant seasonal special.
Hot off its fourth anniversary last month, the savory sanctuary of ethereal Japanese cuisine just released its latest seasonal special for May. Since the beginning of the year, Sakura Terrace has introduced monthly specials as a way to give its loyal legion of regulars something new to munch on.
The exclusive offering for this month is dubbed Tokusen Nigiri Gozen ($35) and perfectly represents executive chef Takayuki Sekine’s knack for delicately balancing the intricate traditional flavors and textures of Japan, while adding original touches along the way.
“I wanted to bring together many traditional elements in one set,” says Sekine, adding that the seasonality of the ingredients is a defining factor of its quality. “We’ve always believed we should use the best ingredients to give the highest-quality dining experience to our customers.”
The centerpiece of Tokusen Nigiri Gozen is the chef’s choice of assorted sushi, an omakase-style presentation that varies depending on which fresh items the kitchen has on any particular day. Guests are likely to find mouthwatering morsels of unagi, tamago and shrimp on this platter, but they’ll also come across special treats from day to day, such as scallop or fresh fish nigiri.
The best of the season really comes into play with the meal’s bountiful array of vegetables. Tempura is made bright this time of year with kabocha, lotus root and asparagus, among others. Seasonal fern shoots simmered Japanese-style in sansai ohitashi also are included, while a refreshing salad on the side lightens up everything.
Serving as an upscale treat amid the generously sized Tokusen Nigiri Gozen, Lobster Miso Soup is a lobster-lover’s dream, as it effuses the rich essence of the seafood through a lobster broth mixed with the customary miso base. Sekine also puts his own stamp on the meal with a grilled chicken oyakoyaki, featuring savory chicken topped with a fluffy blanket of whipped and steamed egg, all drizzled with the chef’s sweet and sour sauce.
When commenting on creating some of the more unique items in the May special, the Tokyo, Japan, native says he is driven “to keep making new culinary ideas that come from my heart.” His passion for cooking is matched by a wealth of technical experience earned throughout the years, including working for more than 15 years at the esteemed Nadaman, a high-end Western-influenced restaurant in Japan.
Patrons eager to taste the chef’s talents in Tokusen Nigiri Gozen are encouraged to call ahead to order, as only a limited number of sets are made during lunch and dinner. There are many other Japanese delights to dive into, however, as Sakura Terrace is known among locals as a hidden gem ideal for reveling in fresh, healthy fare with an emphasis on superlative seafood.
The eatery’s intimate and chic setting, paired with relaxing music and a gentle breeze of fresh air that floats in from the palm-lined terrace, make it prime for lunch and dinner gatherings, as well as private parties. And come evening time, when the lighting is dim and the air is romantic, there’s no better place to cozy up for a date night.
In addition to donburi, traditional bentos and sushi, Sakura Terrace is home to popular pupus such as house-made Macadamia Nut Tofu ($6 regular, $5 happy hour) and scrumptious desserts the likes of Japanese-style Sakura Parfait ($5.50).
This fine fare is met with endearing service from front-of-the-house manager Jaron Takumi and his crew, who offer their gratitude to loyal patrons and newcomers alike for savoring each bite of the restaurant’s journey. “We’re always trying to evolve and satisfy our customers requests,” shares Takumi.
Sakura Terrace Japanese Cafe
1240 S. King St., Honolulu
Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9:30 p.m.
happy hour, 5-6 p.m.
Parking lot located behind the eatery; reservations recommended