Kushiyaki is a style of Japanese cooking that involves various ingredients barbecued, and served pierced by thin bamboo skewers. Based on the concept that flavors of the season can be best enjoyed when bite-size meats and vegetables are presented piping hot directly from a charcoal grill, Kushiyaki cuisine is a lively, and exciting epicurean delight.
Like sushi, many kushiyaki specialty stores decorate the streets of Japan, and serve as social gathering spots for both students, and businessmen alike. When I recently visited the Sakura House restaurant, in Marina del Rey, accompanied by my friend Scott, in order to indulge in this style of cuisine, we certainly got the point of kushiyaki, both in principle, and in taste.
Sakura House proudly leaves no bones about its specialty, with a slogan abounding the restaurant and menu that proclaims “Sizzling skewers of kushiyaki.” That pride certainly extends to every aspect of this clean and comfortable restaurant. The menu is extensive and tidy, and offers the bamboo skewers with a swathe of pierced items.
As well as starters (edamame, kimpica, chilled boiled spinach, sliced seared beef, and marinated mackerel), a trio of soups (miso, chicken, and their house special), and salads (vegetable stick, green salad, cucumber with vinegar, tofu salad, pickled vegetable, and seaweed salad), Sakura House offers a selection of cold tofu specials, rice and noodles, and set dinners.
That being said, I was reliably informed that the best way to enjoy kushiyaki is to order a selection of a la carte items, served hot and fresh from the grill, and the best and most appealing of these were to be found under the section that contains a list of vegetable, meat, and seafood items that are skewered and wrapped in the thinnest slivers of bacon.
We chose to share about a selection of these, and opted for the asparagus, mushroom, shiitake mushroom, shrimp, and chicken with green onion. Service at Sakura House is excellent and our server was prompt, proficient, and polite.
The dishes began arriving about 10 minutes after order, and continued in rapid succession. These skewered surprises were absolutely delicious, and the bacon wrapping was so fine that it acted more like a batter, giving a crisp outer coating, and enhancing rather that coloring the taste of the ingredients.
The asparagus and shiitake mushrooms were an absolute delight, hot, crisp and juicy, and it was obvious that Sakura House takes the time and trouble to utilize the very best of ingredients. This also extended to all of the other dishes we ordered as well. The mushroom was a delight, the chicken a sizzling sensation, and the shrimp succulent and tender.
I will certainly visit Sakura House again, and highly recommend this fun and tasty way to enjoy non-sushi, traditional Japanese treats, in a comfortable room, and with excellent service. It is not however, a budget restaurant, so expect to have a wonderful time for around $60.00 for two persons.
13362 W Washington Boulevard.