Jumbo Buffet at North Bay Village was a proverbial dump. The food was decent, but the restaurant, an old nightclub, was a bit run down. It was not expensive, which was good. Then one day, it simply closed.
For a long time there was a sign announcing a new Japanese Buffet would open in its place. Soon we found out it would be named Sakura, but in spite of a lit sign, the eatery remained shut for some time. I know, because I drive by it at least twice a week.
It finally opened, and my wife and I decided to find out about Sakura in North Bay Village. Consider this a review.
From the entrance, we could see the place was fully renovated, decorated. It was not simply built up, they obviously used an interior designer to do the place. Some of the decoration was excessive, downright tacky, but nice enough, especially in comparison to good ole Jumbo.
From the start, they seemed a bit disorganized. Three people offered to sit us, but only the third host actually did. The staff was obviously not Japanese, rather Chinese. Don't get me wrong. I am no bigot and I have nothing against the Chinese, I am no sinophobic. However, the Chinese tend to do Chinese food well, the Japanese, do Japanese food well. The way it should be.
The guy that sat us rushed a drink order, then a waitress came to take a drink order. In fact, I could see a lot of waitresses walking about in utter confusion, from the time we came in, until we left. I was surprised there was no waitress crash.
Then, the food. Call it growing pains, I suppose. The sushi trays were mostly empty. The pieces themselves were not well put together, falling apart. The fish seemed fresh enough, although the crab legs were simply served frozen. Maybe it was crab ice cream, I don't know. The Japanese food was not all that.
As for the Chinese food, the variety was not great, and at least one dish was extremely hot, when it should not be. I did not try the hibachi, so I will not render a judgment.The desserts were indifferent.
All of this for US$21.95, and expensive drinks on the trot.
I do not recommend it. Had I been charged 10 bucks per person, I might have found the pricing OK, but honestly, one can eat at much better Japanese (Chinese) buffets a few miles from there, such as Miyako in Sunny Isles (Collins Avenue) and Ginza at US 1 and 163 for less money.
So, it seems like this was my first and last foray at Sakura.
Don't say you have not been warned.