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Cover Story: Yum Yum—Sakura Japanese Restaurant

This is the place to go for sushi,” said loyal customer Liz Joines of Sakura.

Master chef James Han has been creating his elegant and tasty dishes for 34 years.

Student sushi chefs Jun Cho and Jason Lord claim “James is one of the best sushi chefs in the U.S and the best in Tennessee.”

“James is a fast teacher. He’s got me moving up quick,” added Lord.

Sakura has an extensive and impressive menu. They offer 41 different sushi rolls, 39 appetizers, hibachi grill dinners, Japanese and Korean dinners, sizzling entrees, tempura plates, soups, salads, desserts and more.

I recommend Sakura if you want to learn about Japanese cuisine. Sushi can be very intimidating, but Sakura provides lists that describe what goes into each sushi roll and dish, so there is very little guesswork. And the chefs are more than happy to describe and show you what goes into the food.

My waitress Pak even fixed me special chopsticks with a rubber band around them. I urge you to ask for them if you are chopstick-challenged.

The atmosphere is very warm and friendly.

“James’ nickname is ?smiley James’ because the first thing he wants the customer to see is a big smile,” said Jun Cho.

Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day, and dinner from 5 – 10 p.m. Please don’t visit 3 – 4 p.m. They will be preparing for dinner.

Lunchtime is a quality time to visit. There is less of a crowd and more time to interact with the chefs at the sushi bar. I chose to get the sushi special, and for my rolls, the Yum Yum Sakura rolls 1, 2 and 3 which were definitely yum yum!

The Yum Yum roll #1, James says, is the most popular of all his sushi. It includes crab, cream cheese and rice rolled up and lightly breaded with tempura, deep fried and topped with shredded crab meat and special sauce. I also tried a Murfreesboro roll, which is crab, salmon, masago (fish eggs), cucumber, avocado and eel. My favorite treat of the day was the Caterpillar roll. It has shrimp tempura, cucumber, crab and masago topped with avocado and dried fish. To finish off the caterpillar, James made it look like a fierce dragon with a fiery wasabi head and squid suckers for eyes, tiny whiskers made of cucumber and a shrimp for the tail! Fantastic!

Each plate was decorated with a delicate butterfly made of onion setting gently atop a dollop of wasabi, and a little shaved ginger for cleansing the palate between different types of sushi.

Han is truly an artist, he takes the time and effort to make each dish by hand and special for the customers. The food looks so good it’s almost sad to eat it?that is until you taste how good it is!

“This is the best one,” said Miles Wallace about Sakura when asked about all the places for sushi in town. “Fuji is too expensive, and at Sushin the quality is just not there.”

At dinner Sakura offers a Dademi Room featuring a low table with pillows around it and soothing pale teal color on the walls, treating customers to a traditional Japanese dining experience. And coming soon (Sakura is still slightly under construction) a Korean Grill buffet, full bar area and a Karaoke room.

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About the Author

The Murfreesboro Pulse, Middle Tennessee's Source for Art, Entertainment and Culture News. murfreesboropulse@yahoo.com

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