Blue Sakura – Leeds

Sushi fan? Then oh boy do I have a place to tell you about! Blue Sakura is a newly opened Japanese restaurant in Leeds by the Merrion Centre. It’s got a mixed menu of sushi, teppanyaki, rice and noodle dishes. So far…okay? The real USP though is it’s all you can eat. Yup all you can eat sushi, and not buffet style, it’s made fresh style…

P and I visited last weekend and word has got around! We’d luckily booked during the lunchtime slot and you couldn’t get a table without a reservation – I saw at least 5 groups being turned away. The restaurant is pretty; very light and airy with lots of cherry blossom trees. It has a bit of a Tattu vibe but a lot more chilled. After being shown to our seats our waitress explained the system. You’re given an iPad that you directly order off (even glasses of tap water) and dishes get brought out to you as they’re ready – you can’t order more than 10 plates at a time and you have two hours.

The menu is pretty overwhelming, there’s about 60 dishes along with more if you do it during the evening seating. We decided to go section by section to avoid spending ages poring over the menu so started with some appetisers; King Prawn Tempura, Yakitori, Grilled Aubergine, Gyoza, Beef Bao and Chicken Bao.

The prawn tempura and gyoza were delicious and both came with really tasty dipping sauces. The aubergine was soft and topped with a teryaki sauce – a good veggie dish to cut through all the meat and carbs. The yakitori were okay – the chicken was cooked well and not at all dry but I couldn’t taste much sauce. The bao were probably my least favourite of the appetisers – although tasty the buns were a bit stodgy and filling a bit sparse.

Next we moved onto sushi; Inari Nigiri, Tamago Nigiri, Seaweed Salad, Avocado Maki, Katsu Chicken Roll and Spicy Tuna Crispy Roll. The nigiri were the best (inari is my absolute favourite) and the flavour of the other sushi was good but the rice a bit on the overdone side – P used to make sushi for a living so has very strong views on how it should be! The seaweed salad was a great accompaniment to add a bit of refreshment to the meal.

After a little rester we went back to the sushi; Seabass Nigiri, Salmon Nigiri, Tuna Nigiri, Red Dragon Roll and a Salmon & Avocado Handroll. The rice in this lot was much better – all the fish was really good quality and the Dragon Roll was probably my favourite of the meal; prawn tempura with avocado and cucumber topped with salmon.

At about this point we still had 45 mins till our 2 hours were up but were on the edge of disgustingly full. The service was surprisingly speedy (I’d presumed they’d pace your dishes a lot more to avoid people taking the piss and ordering loads but they don’t) and it’s super tempting to keep ordering with the iPad sat on your table but alas the expanding sushi rice got the better of our stomachs.

At only £18 for a lunchtime seating it’s definitely good value; sure there were a few niggles like the rice not quite being 100% for some of the sushi (though looking at the reviews of Blue Sakura I think we might have just got an unlucky batch). The sushi isn’t on par with somewhere like Hana Matsuri…but it’s a fun kinda place to visit with tasty, good value food – so I can definitely see why they’re having to turn people away!

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