Restaurant of the Week: Sakura Ichi

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CLOSED

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.

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  • Yao Yang

    WORST SUSHI EXPERIENCE EVER!!!

    My wife and came to Sakura Ichi to have all you can eat Sushi and the waitress said that we have 90 min to eat our food. We ordered our first course (of many) and they said that it is last call on all food 10 min later. The manager came by and said sorry I have to leave at this time and he said, you can pay full price for each individual item of the first course.

    Well we got the bill and it was almost the same as the 2 person all you can eat. I explained to the manager (night of 7/16/10) that we just got started, your waitress promised us 90 min and now we get almost a full bill for very little food. His response was, ok if you dont want to pay the bill I will call the police, which he did. I then explained the situation the officer and the price came down.

    Mr. Yao Yang, I think you should know what poor quality people you have working for you.

  • Jim Shumacher

    … show me the way to the last sushi bar… oh, don’t ask why… oh, don’t ask why… I’ve scarfed up sushi in places all over the U.S. and Europe, and was delighted to find reasonably-priced, quality sushi in a nice setting at Sakura Ichi, within only 2 blocks of the downtown Pomona Arts Colony (!)

    The place has real atmosphere, it’s not just another hole-in-the-wall eatery. After going there several times for both lunch and dinner, I’d rate the overall quality about 8 out of 10. The pieces of fish are quite large, very fresh and the sushi rice holds together without being sticky. The menu is quite varied and extensive.

    A really good bargain at lunch: Bento Box with 6 pieces of sashimi, 5 pieces of sushi and assorted tasty extras for only $11 (and that includes miso soup and salad bar). Easily one of the best raw fish deals I’ve ever come across. Definitely dispels the myth that there are no classy restaurants down in Pomona town.