Specializing in seducing the Jerusalemite palate to enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine, Sakura is a delicious treat. Yonatan Sternberg visits one of his favorite Jerusalem locations for sushi and more.

When I am in Jerusalem and feel like going out for sushi and Japanese cuisine, the first place that comes to my mind is Sakura. Situated in the Finegold Courtyard just off Jaffa Street, Sakura offers a wide array of classic Japanese dishes, including soup, cooked fish dishes, seafood, meat, salads, stir fries and, of course, sushi.

After working in Japan for a number of years and mastering the art of sushi making and fish carving, Boaz Tzairi returned to Israel and decided to introduce authentic Japanese cuisine to the Jerusalemite palate. Once a kosher restaurant, over the years Sakura has made some changes and today also has several non-kosher items on the menu. The main reasons for this change are the owner's desire to prepare classic dishes while not compromising on the quality of ingredients and the increased demand from tourists, as well as from locals, who had already visited Japan and were looking for the real thing.

The first thing that one notices when walking into Sakura is a sushi man standing behind a clear counter displaying beautiful fresh fish: raw chunks red tuna, salmon, yellowtail, eel and others. We started off with the shrimp tempura and the chicken gyoza alongside an excellent and very refreshing cold Harusame salad made with glass (bean) noodles and finely sliced cucumbers and carrots. Both starters were very good. The tempura batter covering the shrimp was nice and crispy, while remaining relatively light and not oily at all. The gyoza at Sakura is available in either small (5 pcs.) or large (10 pcs.) format and can be filled with a choice of chicken, shrimp, pork or vegetables. Many believe that the gyoza originated in China, and it is said to have been introduced to Japan in the late 17th century. Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Polish or Iraqi, in most cuisines around the world various types of dumplings can be found. The secret to a good dumpling, no matter the origin, is the balance between the filling and the dough or outer shell. Sakura's dumplings were very flavorful, the filling was seasoned nicely and the special ginger infused sauce brought out the flavors.

Next to arrive were the “special” sushi & sashimi combo, one crispy panko coated tuna and salmon roll and a very generous serving of udon noodle & seafood stir-fry. Colorful and uniform pieces of maki, a couple of nigiri and three types of nicely cut sashimi are served alongside a small dish of sea bream carpaccio. The thin slices of fish were lightly cured in a tasty, sweet and sour wasabi dressing that gave the dish an interesting twist.

Full and very content we decided to skip dessert and continued sitting at our table a while sipping on a cup of green tea. By the way, Sakura also offers delivery services throughout the city as well as a wide variety of busi