Sunday, April 03, 2011
Sakuragumi Restaurant - Ako
Sakuragumi is a southern Italian style restaurant in the little seaside community of Ako. This small town is better known for the tale of the 47 Ronin and salt production--the latter being used in most of Ako's omiyage including the great shiomi manjyu sold through out the city. The seaside walk and landscape is somewhat reminiscent of Italy, and my home town of Laguna Beach come to think of it. Combine the beautiful landscape with the restaurant's location on a small cliff overlooking the ocean, and furnishings in the restaurant itself with the food and you actually might think you were in Italy. Outside and in, Sakuragumi is designed to give you the sense that you are no longer in Japan. High airy ceilings, white walls, large wooden tables all come together to help produce this feeling.
The food is just amazing. Our appetizer plate came with 5~6 different bits of seafood, vegetable and meat based delicacies. All of them very nicely arranged on a large plate for us to share. After that a pizza came, the restaurant's specialty, and a pasta made with locally caught shellfish. The pizza, like the restaurant, doesn't cater to Japanese tastes as it was heavy on blue cheese. A possible deal breaker for some Japanese patrons. The pasta was also cooked al dente--a great change from what I'm use to here in Japan. We chose a meat dish and got a pork roast with peppercorns and salad. The pork was slightly crispy on the outside while the inside the meat almost melted in my mouth. All of it was perfect.
All in all one of the top five best meals I've ever had, and at ¥3,670 a head it was a steal. Combine all this with a pleasant, friendly staff a great drink menu that included a nice list of Japanese micro-brews and you've got a real culinary delight.
Reservations are necessary. We made ours two weeks in advance and the restaurant was full the entire time we were there. They had to turn away quite a few walk-ins too. If you can't get a reservation, they seemed to be doing take out pizza. I didn't ask about it however. We also brought our 10 month old baby and they were very accommodating to her. The couples at the tables next to us all enjoyed smiling at waving at her too. A great experience
Sakuragumi website [Japanese]: http://www.vera-pizza-sakuragumi.co.jp/