Sakura is one of Marbella’s best loved restaurants and this year marks its 20th anniversary, a milestone to be proud of, especially considering the rate at which restaurants tend to pop up, only to close somewhere down the track.

There are several secrets to Sakura’s success – one of which is location – the restaurant is ensconced in one of Puerto Banús’ most iconic streets: Avda. José Banús, the street that leads to the main entrance of the Port.

The other is top quality yet affordable food – just about everything the Japanese culinary tradition is famed for – fresh sashimi, delectable sushi, warm dishes such as roast duck, gyudon or crisp tempura.

Sakura is the perfect spot for families and friends, with a wide range of dishes to choose from and attentive service that never leaves diners waiting.

My most recent visit to Sakura was on a Friday; a colleague and I had the afternoon off and chose to celebrate it the best way we know how – with a Japanese meal, downed with a glass or two of sake.

The menu at Sakura is ample and with so many temptations vying for our attention, we opted for the suggestions made by Meiyan, the lovely owner, who brought out a medley of colourful, beautifully presented dishes that were as scrumptious as they were healthy.

Warm and Cool
The magic began with a plate of warm edamame (the chit-chat died down as we munched on the crunchy beans), followed by two warm starters: the tuna tataki (beautifully tender and buttery soft, served over a bed of salad) and the shrimp mini-roll (wonton-wrapped, deep fried shrimp). Nicely sized portions, quality ingredients and traditional cooking techniques characterised these and the dishes that followed.

We tried several types of sushi, debating afterwards regarding which was our absolute fave. Two rolls which stood out for their texture in particular were the wasabi role (salmon, tuna and avocado wrapped in wasabi caviar) and the California tobiko (crab meat and avocado wrapped in caviar).

The ‘popping’ sensation of the caviar was simply delightful and the flavour of each bite revealed the quality of the rice and fillings – as true sushi experts know, texture is everything when it comes to this dish, the rice has to be cooked to the perfect point.

Another winner was the flamed salmon sushi, comprising warm salmon served over a bed of rice, drizzled with sweet teriyaki sauce. This is one of those dishes that you dream about just a day or two after trying it for the first time. Beautifully tender were the ichiban roll (butterfish, salmon and avocado) and the Tokyo roll (avocado and surimi wrapped in salmon).

The cuisine at Sakura is light yet surprisingly filling. We made it a long, leisurely meal, reading the menu and noting that there were an array of dishes which would be perfect for sharing (ideal the next time the girls at the office feel like lunch together).

These include a beautiful sashimi funamori boat (featuring sashimi of all the colours you can dream up served within a pretty wooden boat), fondue varieties (beef or seafood) and various-sized mixed sashimi suggestions.

You can also downsize and order your favourite nigiri in two-piece portions (for instance, the yellowtail, fatty tuna or sea urchin egg varieties). For something different, the rice-free temakis, elegantly rolled up and served by the piece, sound ideal.

After a coffee and a walk along the Port, my colleague and I felt like our lunch had officially kickstarted the weekend. The great service provided by Meiyan and her team, combined with the rich variety of dishes we sampled and the great location lent our day the perfect blend of wonder and familiarity that has come to characterise our favourite establishments on the Port.

Words Marisa Cutillas / Photography Kevin Horn

Avda. José Banús, Local 5, Puerto Banús. Tel: 952 817 536.
Open daily from 12pm to 4:30pm and 7pm to 12am.