Have you ever considered seriously trying out Japanese food? We aren’t just talking about takoyaki and sushi but a cuisine that is authentically Japanese and that doesn’t cost you a fortune. There are many restaurants opening around town and bringing you real Japanese food these days. But if you want to try some without sending your budget out of whack, Subas Malla’s Mount Sakura Japanese Cuisine in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur, is the place you should go to.
Malla lived in Japan for a number of years and returned to Nepal just three years ago. While in Japan, he worked in restaurants and grew to love Japanese food. “Everyday was a food adventure in Japan,” he recollects. “To someone new, the variety and diversity in Japanese food is almost dizzying and it was the same for me too,” he says. But he worked his way through the multitude of food and held jobs at traditional Japanese restaurants. While there, he learnt Japanese cooking from the masters and head chefs.
“Japanese food is simple in its flavors. Everything revolves around sweetness, saltiness and some spice. Flavor wise they are simple but what they can do with just that is remarkable,” says Malla. Upon his return to Nepal three years ago, he decided that he would bring Japanese food to his country. Mount Sakura Japanese Cuisine was previously run by a different set of owners so Malla purchased the property and revamped the place. But he decided to keep the name.
Keeping true to Japanese decor with their minimalistic theme and their menu that displays a typical listings of dishes found in most restaurants in Japan, the attempt to keep things simple is quite evident here. Wood panels, and some kanji hangings and landscape drawings make up the interior space. There is a private room too if you’re looking for a quiet meal.
The menu may seem a bit too complex to navigate through seeing as how everything is listed by their Japanese names but the descriptions are fairly simple and explain wha the dishes actually are. Malla says that he’s trying to deliver the true taste of Japan through both his food and the ambience. “We’ve been open for less than a year so we’re still trying to tweak and adjust a few things here and there,” he says.
Keeping it simple and straightforward, Mout Sakura Japanese Cuisine is a sneak peek into the multiverse that is Japanese food. The best thing about Japanese food is perhaps the fact that whatever you may eat, at any quantities, you will never feel stuffed. I tried many dishes at Mount Sakura and was full by the time I finished. However, this kind of full is when you can still function and work without feeling lethargic or drowsy. Maybe this is why they call Japanese food energizing.
Ever since its re-launch, Mount Sakura Japanese Cuisine has been receiving excellent reviews from its customers and Malla claims that he has more regular customers than first time visitors. The restaurant is open from nine in the morning and until nine in the evening. The staff comprises of four other workers but Malla creates all the dishes that goes out of the kitchen himself. “This is how it is in Japan. The main chef works the hardest and longest. That is how you bring about perfection,” he concludes.
Tuna Mayo Sushi
Price: Rs 410
Served with miso soup, gari (pickled ginger) and some wasabi, the Tuna Mayo Sushi is one appetizer that you cannot go wrong with. It’s light, fresh and wholesome. You may however be slightly disappointed by the fillings to rice ratio of this sushi. There’s a little too much rice than I think there should be. So much that at times the tuna is lost in the denseness of the rice. But that is my only complaint because the sushi in its entirety is quite good. They put in some cucumbers in their wrap so it gives you a nice crunch and adds to the freshness of the sushi.
Price: Rs 390
Ramen is a fairly popular dish here in Nepal. But very often, eateries fail to do justice to all the elements that make ramen good ramen. A good broth, nice and chewy noodles, a selection of condiments, fresh greens, boiled eggs and slices of tender meat are the essentials of a good ramen. This bowl of ramen doesn’t fail in any of these aspects. The broth is rich and creamy and the noodles are so soft they make slurping an exquisite experience. The chashu is roasted so it’s more meaty than gelatinous. The star though in this bowl is the broth. Malla says that the broth is boiled for over eight hours and going by how flavorful it is you know it’s a lot of hard work.
Price: Rs 250
The menu at Mount Sakura has been made keeping its vegan customers in mind. This silken-firm tofu is fried and served with dashi sauce. Dashi sauce is just Japanese for fish stock. This dish wins the texture game by a stretch. Supple and spongy, it soaks in the sauce very well. The sauce is strongly sweet but the sea flavors are just as strong. Pair agedashi tofu with some rice and it will make for a really nice lunch.
Price: Rs 500
From a selection of Tonkatsu, Teriyaki, Cyukaa and EBI, the one I tried was a Teriyaki Bento Box. As is typical of a bento box, this one too was a beauty to look at. And it came with a mound of rice, teriyaki chicken, veg sushi, karaage, egg rolls to be paired up with pickled radish. What you get here is representative of Japanese flavors. The eggs are fluffy and moderately sweet. Teriyaki chicken tender and on the sweeter side, karaage is basically fried chicken and here to give you a crunch. The sushi and radish are delightful relishes that complete this light-on-your-soul treat.
Mount Sakura Japanese Cuisine
Where: Thadodhuga Road, Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur
Opening Hours : 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Delivery : Foodmandu