Sakura: Teppanyaki Comes to Redwood City

You may not know what teppanyaki means, but you likely know Benihana, which has made teppanyaki famous.

Teppanyaki essentially means cooked on an iron plate, but I would describe this to my kids in a much more basic way by saying, “it’s when they cook the food right in front of you.” My kids get it. They love Benihana, and all of the showmanship that comes with having your food made to order right at your table. They love the fire, the steaming onions, and the flipped up shrimp tails. What I hate is the price. Adding to the price is that the nearest teppanyaki place to us used to be Benihana, and the few times we went there, we had an incredibly long wait despite having a reservation. Waiting 45 minutes past a reservation time with hungry children, then paying a lot for the meal isn’t fun.

Sakura in Redwood City has changed all of that. First, it’s easy. I’ve gone twice without reservations and only had to wait once, for about two to three minutes. If going with a group or during lunch, it’s best to make a reservation. Second, the layout is much more open than Benihana, which makes it feel much less cramped and chaotic. Third, the price is right. Sakura’s prices are reasonable, making it possible to be a regular family dinner destination instead of a special occasions only restaurant.

My first visit to Sakura was with Robyn, and though I sighed when we were placed at a table with two young kids, it turned out great. Next, I went back with my family for my birthday. When our server asked if we were there for a special occasion, I mindlessly said it was for my birthday, then I tried to take it back. When that failed, I tried to say it was my son’s birthday, but to no luck. I imagined other restaurants with a giant sombrero and the whole restaurant clapping along to your birthday song, but this wasn’t so bad. Yes, they sang me happy birthday, but they also took my picture with my daughter, which they put into a paper frame and gave me for free. It was a nice memento of the night.

Two nights later, when I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner, one of my kids said, “Let’s go to Sakura!” We will definitely go back.

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