Hibachi, Teriyaki and Sushi – Oh my!
By Rick Henry
After 15 years of owning and operating a restaurant in Fairfax, Jimmy Lin was looking for a new concept and a new location. The result of his efforts, Sakura Teriyaki Corner, has given Takoma Park and Langley Park residents a great new dining option.
The concept he settled upon was a fast-casual version of the traditional Hibachi steakhouse restaurants, the ones where patrons sit around large grills and the cooks are as much performers as they are chefs. Lin’s idea was, as the expression goes, to deliver the steak – or chicken, or shrimp, or vegetables- without the sizzle of a big production and higher prices.
“Those restaurants are great the first few times or when you are with a big group, but after that you don’t necessarily want to go back and pay that kind of money,” said Lin, who runs Sakura with his wife Helen. “Not everybody wants a show all the time or to pay $30-40 per person.”
At Sakura Teriyaki, Hibachi platters run from $6.99 for vegetable to $12.99 for a combo of three toppings. Choices include chicken, steak, shrimp, salmon and various combinations.
Beyond the price difference, Lin also stresses the “fast-casual” component of the restaurant, noting that customers do not have to spend the same amount of time that they would at a traditional Hibachi restaurant, but can receive the same quality. It also provides an option for patrons to dine in or carry out.
As to his choice of location, Lin, who also owns and manages Panda of D.C., a Chinese restaurant in D.C., researched a number of locations but settled on the Takoma Park area because he had lived in the area approximately 15 years ago and liked it and thought the demographics would be good for this type of restaurant.
After deciding to open Sakura in Takoma Park, Lin said it took him about six months to find his current location. He finally decided on 6843 New Hampshire Avenue (in the shopping center anchored by Shopper’s Food Warehouse) because it was in an existing shopping center with parking.
Lin’s instincts may be proving correct. Since opening in late June, he said he has seen his customer traffic rise from 60-70 a day to 150-180 per day. “We are getting a lot of repeat customers,” he said.
One of those is Cora Green of Mount Rainier. Green, who works at the nearby America’s Best store, says she has come to the restaurant often since they have opened. “They have good customer service and the food is delicious and fresh,” she said. Green’s favorite entrée is the deep fried California roll.
Lin says that prior to opening Sakura he trained for several months with a chef friend in Pennsylvania and spent a lot of time perfecting the ingredient combinations in his dishes, giving special attention to the three special sauces he developed, a ginger dressing sauce, a spicy mayo sauce and a Yum Yum sauce.
Lin prides himself on the variety of entrees and the quality of ingredients. Besides the Hibachi meals, Sakura offers several Teriyaki dishes, Sushi and hand rolls, Bento boxes and Asian entrees and noodle dishes. Such fare certainly adds to the ever-growing options available on the New Ave.
Sakura Teriyaki Corner is open Monday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; FridaySaturday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Sunday from Noon- 10 p.m. Phone: 301-270-0800. Website: www. mysakurateriyaki.com
This article appeared in the October 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.