Review: Sakura Garden (Japanese/Asian/AYCE) 1921 Avenue Road (North York)
This is my first Chow review after years of lurking. Thought it was time to contribute :)
I work in an office at Avenue Road south of Wilson and most of us buy our lunch daily. This means we are usually looking for value and have tried most every restaurant within walking distance. The regulars include Subway, Panago Pizza, The Copper Chimney (Indian), Issmi (Japanese) and Fusion Wok (Chinese). Our office is always excited when a new restaurant opens up in the area as it gives us something new to try. Aroma Cafe is opening up soon, which will be a nice addition.
Sakura Garden (Japanese/Asian)
1921 Avenue Road (North York)
I've tried Sakura Garden 4 times since they opened earlier in June 2012. I've ordered from their lunch menu twice and had the All You Can Eat Lunch twice.
Value: First thing, Sakura offers excellent value for the neighborhood. The lunch menu has about 15 items from Chinese to Thai to Japanese all priced around $7-8 including soup and salad. The AYCE is only $13 for lunch (can't recall the dinner price).
Food: The AYCE lunch includes sashimi, sushi, appetizers, various rolls and a number of noodle/rice dishes, including things such as general tao chicken. We ordered various sashimi, salmon sushi pizza, dragon rolls, dynamite rolls, rainbow rolls, seaweed salad, rock shrimp appetizer as well as the fried bananas for dessert. I found the salmon sashimi especially fresh and delicious and the pieces were very nicely sized. One thing I really like about the AYCE is that Sakura does not pad their rolls with extra rice to fill you up. They are the same as on the regular menu and overall very good. Generally, I found the quality high.
From the lunch menu, I've had both the Chicken Bento ($7) and BBQ Beef Short Ribs Bento ($8.50). This is your typical bento, but also included a few California rolls and tempura shrimp and veggies. The chicken had great flavour, the tempura was not the best I've had, but overall I would order again.
Service: The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife. The wife is the main server and the husband I believe is the sushi chef. They are friendly and polite. We ordered take out once and it took a bit longer than we would have liked, but I imagine they will work out the kinks over time.
OVERALL: Great value. Good quality. Friendly service. While not all the dishes are perfect, it is a great addition to the neighborhood and our go-to lunch spot at the moment. Recommended.
I'm delighted to discover another mouth - indeed, an office full of mouths, apparently - prepared to go forth and test the chow in my part of town. Those of us who live up this way need all the extra mouths we can muster, unlike the plethora of mouths in Leslieville, for example, which seems to overflow with opinionated Chowhounds. And though sushi isn't my thing, it's useful to know about Sakura Garden, in case a sushi-loving friend turns up on my doorstep, demanding I take lunch with him at any nearby good-value sushi joint. Thanks for the detailed report. I trust there'll be further diagnoses of the lunch situation in and around Wilson Ave. and Avenue Rd., where value is a fleeting thing.