Sakura Ichi, 101 W. Mission Blvd., Suite 101 (at Garey), Pomona
Pomona is not exactly a hotbed for Japanese food, but Sakura Ichi has occupied a spot in the Mission Promenade center downtown since 2006.
The interior is a large, high-style place, full of modern design touches, making for one of the more impressive restaurant interiors in the Inland Valley. There’s a long, gleaming sushi bar, a lounge that is especially impressive in the evening when the lights behind the bar glow and a series of private tatami rooms for larger groups.
The tatami rooms are great fun. You take off your shoes, put on paper slippers and sit on the floor, dangling your legs into a well below your table. A group of us has done this a couple of times for a birthday or before a concert. There’s no extra charge for the rooms.
The food is pretty good too. This recent visit I had the Sakura sashimi ($18), which came with a small salad, a bowl of rice and 12 pieces of sashimi, three each of tuna, whitefish, salmon and yellowtail, served on a bed of ice. Nice presentation, and tasty too. I’ve been here another half-dozen times over the years and enjoyed my meals.
The main knock that you hear is that service, while friendly, can be spotty. Our previous visit, our group of 10 got our food at various times, with me receiving mine last, maybe 45 minutes later. And I got one of the specials, salmon carapaccio. (On the other hand, I have to admit it was excellent.) This recent visit, we had no problems with the service at all.
Sakura Ichi (the name means “Cherry Blossom No. 1″) is not the best sushi, but it’s good enough, it’s arguably the best restaurant downtown and for groups especially, it offers a fun experience. Sakura Ichi wouldn’t be out of place in Little Tokyo, where a reservation for a tatami room would probably be hard to come by, but here it’s one of the better-kept secrets.