Sushi. I remember trying these delicate Japanese finger-foods in a bid to slim down back when I was still a student in Auckland, New Zealand. The year was 2002 and there I was on the corner of Queen and Victoria St, grabbing my first packet of a 6-piece smoked chicken and avocado maki roll at famed St. Pierre’s Sushi House on my way to my university classes at the Auckland University of Technology.
Suffice to say, sushi and my love for it have come a long way since my tertiary student days. In K-town, I will have it almost once a week, as depending on my hectic schedule and the items chosen, this Japanese cuisine can almost be likened to fast healthy food on the go.
One of my favorite Japanese restaurants I often frequent is Sakura. Recently this eatery’s menu underwent somewhat of an overhaul (for the better) to include an even greater selection of healthy dishes. The new menu features a healthier selection of appetizers, maki rolls, shabu-shabu (a Japanese dish of thinly sliced meat cooked in boiling water or broth and served with a selection of veggies and sauces), nigiri (raw seafood under a ball of cooked rice) and sashimi (raw slices of seafood) platters. Saying that though, my 3 favorite dishes at Sakura were:
Goma Wake – This appetizer is a fabulous fresh mixed seaweed salad with a sesame dressing folded through. Seaweed is rich in a fiber called alginate. A recent study at the Newcastle University in the UK deduced that consuming seaweed reduced one’s fat digestion by more than 75%. More importantly, seaweed contains iodine, a nutrient that’s sometimes absent in other foods. Consumption of iodine-rich foods is essential in maintaining a healthy thyroid function – that tiny gland in your neck which is responsible for producing and regulating your hormones.
Nagasaki Maki – This is fast becoming one of my favorite rolls here at Sakura. During competition prepping and subsequently cutting my carbs, I would usually opt for the sashimi selection with a house salad on the side. This little roll right here is a rice-less maki roll. That’s right, no rice or starchy carbs in it. Instead, what you get is a maki roll that’s filled with fresh salmon, crabstick slices (you can opt not to have this and fill it instead with more salmon or other seafood), grilled shrimp, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, spring onion and pickled ginger in a white soy sheet. So you get a good dose of protein from the fish and the shrimp, healthy fats from the avocado (which help in lowering your cholesterol levels and risk of cardiovascular diseases) and an array of vitamins, fiber, minerals and antioxidants from the veggies in it. #winning
Miso Black Cod – I’m happy to see that Sakura has added this to their menu. Their miso-glazed grilled black cod served with steamed rice does not disappoint. Please bear in mind that there’s a good 15 to 20 minute wait for this dish, but it’s well worth it. The cod has a sweet buttery taste to it thanks to the miso glaze (again, from seaweed) and pairs well with the plain rice. Rich in lean protein and iodine, cod is also rich in vitamins B12 and B6, 2 important vitamins in keeping your homocysteine levels low (homocysteine is a molecule associated with blood vessel damage and high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes).
So, if you’re curious to give Japanese food a try, do give it a go at Sakura. The staff are Japanese culinary connoisseurs when it comes to their menu and are very friendly and attentive in helping with your food selection. What’s more, the chefs would be more than happy to accommodate your meal preferences – something that’s a rarity at some other Japanese restaurants here.
Sakura has 6 locations – located at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Laila Gallery, Holiday Inn Salmiya, Abu Halifa opposite to Alia and Ghalia Towers, the Zone next to Shaab Park and at Mall 360. Serving lunch and dinner daily from 12noon to 10.30pm, please contact 2475 7775 for their main reservation line at the Crowne Plaza. Alternatively you can follow them on Instagram @sakurakuwait.
Reshmi Revi is a NZCF Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Enthusiast and an Evolve Supplements Sponsored Athlete who competes in bodybuilding. Follow her on Instagram @Q8MissFit.