Senbon Sakura restaurant review: Japanese cooks up 'some of the best food' in Leeds

Okay, cards straight on the table: Senbon Sakura has served me some of the best restaurant food I’ve had in ages.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 4:26 pm
Spicy kimchi wings at Senbon Sakura.

The Japanese cafe and kitchen sits on the fringe of Leeds city centre in Great George Street, a road which these days offers a decent range of eateries to choose from – but people could do worse than to walk right to the end where this little gem has served in recent years.

First impressions?

Spider roll sushi.

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After walking through a curtain decorated in traditional artwork of a koi fish, you’ll find a small but spacious cafe-style diner, with two- and four-seat wooden tables. Japanese features such as lanterns and a painting of a pagoda on the far wall are cheerful and not over the top.

Staff, meanwhile are personable and clearly hard-working.

What’s the menu like?Big, overwhelmingly so. It’s a good job, therefore, it all looks so inviting. Sushi, tempura, ramen, noodles, curries, meat dishes and all the usual Japanese staples are given a fair showing, so people accustomed to eating the East Asian cuisine have plenty to choose from.

Now onto the food.I had the spicy kimchi wings from the appetisers list and a spider roll – eight sushi rolls filled with fried soft shell crab, masago, cucumber, sweet chilli mayo, sesame and teriyaki sauce. My dining partner had pumpkin katsu and yasai curry - seasonal mixed vegetables cooked in mild sauce.

The kimchi wings - super-fresh but lathered in deep-red, tangy, jammy sauce – are now my favourite chicken dish in Leeds. They look beautiful and despite the thick sauce, retain an ultra-crispness on the skin, yet an amazing succulence inside.

The sushi rolls – which come looking unashamedly novel in a long, colourful line with tempura pieces on the ends – are a great accompaniment.

The fresh cucumber and more subtle sweetness offer a different flavour all together from the wings, while the accompanying pickled ginger is a great palate-cleanser. My friend’s yasai curry looks satisfying, and all signs showed it went down well.

Having poached a bit of the pumpkin katsu (which has a breadcrumb layer on the outside) with its sour sauce, I can vouch for that too – this place is amenable to veggies.

Portions are big, so it was a pass on dessert.

And the drinks?My partner had a Ramune soda, a Japanese soft drink, while I had a sparkling water. A range of authentic sodas and alcoholic drinks are on offer.

How much was the bill? Was it value for money?It was £31.20 in total – an absolute steal for four sizeable, incredibly good dishes and two drinks.