Monday, December 28, 2015

RESTAURANTS IN OMAN: Sakura, Asian Food in North Al Hail

Picture from Y magazine's review of Sakura
So I didn't take any pictures. My camera, I lost the wire that lets me download to the computer, so until I replace that, no pictures of my own for these posts. That said, I recently have gone to Sakura restaurant in North  Al Hail 3 times in this last week alone, so I think I can manage a review;).

I love Asian Food. My Western-Canadian family travels to Thailand and Vietnam regularly. I've eaten Chinese food in China. I love most Asian cuisine (I'm not big on Japanese but my Omani husband is so he can tell me what he thinks about that).

First off, the Sakura staff didn't know I am a blogger. Service timing was irregular (items arrived randomly) but otherwise service was good. However, it wasn't that busy any of the times I have gone in. Staff were friendly, knowledgeable about the menu, kitchen was clean (my kids love to go into the kitchen to check it out so I use that as my excuse---catching them) and I never struggled to catch anyone's attention.

Our table was downstairs. The three times I have been, it wasn't that busy. I guess when it isn't that busy doesn't warrant having the upstairs section open... I love the tables upstairs. The décor upstairs I love. Downstairs is okay-ish. But downstairs baby chair was comfy, easy and safe.

But honestly, when it comes to Asian, it's all about the food for me.

So here is what we've ordered so far:

The lemongrass drink (2 omr). Heavy gingery and lemongrass drink. Not too sweet (maybe they changed the recipe since the Y magazine review?). I liked it especially with something more oily like anything cooked in peanut oil, I paired it with a Beef Udon dish, and I loved that pairing. My kids also (weirdly) seem to love it. I think 2 omr for a drink is a bit expensive, but weirdly, I haven't been craving coffee (Sakura has) and I've never personally been big on Japanese tea (Sakura has), so this drink has been doing it for me when it comes to meal accompaniment. It's worth it I guess is what I am saying.

My husband ordered the Miso soup. He liked it. My kids liked it. I don't like Miso so I didn't try it. Smallish serving.

My daughter ordered the Cream Corn with Chicken soup. It was edible,  but not something I'll try myself. I didn't really like it. Large, large serving.

My husband also (on another night) ordered the Tom Yum soup. It smelled delicious. He loved it. I don't eat seafood so not for me of course, but even that said, it smelled really really good. Larger serving.

My kids always order plain rice. The staff are super nice and give them extra Thai chilli paste and soya sauce on the side to mix as they please.

The first dish I ordered was the Beef Udon, a noodle dish. I liked the flavors, but the noodles were a bit oily. I'm okay with that, especially sipping a Lemongrass drink, but know not everyone would be. And the meat wasn't melt in your mouth. It was tender and well flavored but not superior in cut, I could tell. Decent but almost too oily dish. I liked it, but maybe you won't? My husband wouldn't like it.

He also tried a noodle dish, with prawns I think, and he didn't end up eating it due to it being too oily for him. Our daughter however took over eating it and loved it, so it was probably decent.

Not liking his noodle dish my husband ordered a smaller sushi dish. That he DID love. So of course, next two times we came back he ordered the biggest mixed sushi platters they had. He liked them. I wouldn't know anything about sushi. He said it is good value for the portions. Sushi loving friends claim it isn't authentic enough for their tastes.

Since, I've also ordered the Chicken Teriyaki and the Beef Teriyaki. I really like the sauce. Again, complaint is... the meat on the chicken and beef isn't either that melt in your mouth (beef) or the moist (of perfectly cook chicken). Nonetheless, I liked them enough I'd eat them again. Again, decent. Served with sticky rice and boiled vegetables. Both pretty plain sides, but the sauce is almost salty so I guess that evens it out.

I also ordered a vegetarian dish of wok fried long beans. Very garlic-ey but me and my son ate them all. Daugher complained we stank afterwards;) so maybe not a date dish.

So... possibly not my favourite Asian restaurant, but due to its location, parking, prices -beyond-drinks, (I hate going to Al Mouj and Avenues mall) I'll probably end up here a lot, even though it was the higher end of decent, rather than in the freakin' awesome range as far as Asian food in Muscat goes. But that said, I haven't tried the pad thai or the chow mein and egg rolls, so after I've done that, I can be sure about my critique;). But I will probably go again (I am biased). I like Asian food even if it isn't perfect. To me, anything to avoid Arabic chicken cooked in a sauce with rice... or like, Turkish or lebanese all the time.

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