If you asked me when we started this review site whether I’d ever recommend an Asian buffet in Jacksonville I’d have told you, “The chances are slim to none and slim just left town.” Asian buffets are perennial favorites to be among the worst offenders on the health department’s violations list. Too often their food tastes bland or quality is sacrificed to obtain lower pricing. Additionally I never feel that I’m getting value for my money. I’m excited to share with you that we’ve found an Asian buffet we can confidently recommend. The new Sakura Asian Buffet blows away all the others in Jacksonville we’ve tried. Sakura offers pretty good food in a clean restaurant at a great price.
LOCATION: 9764 Atlantic Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32225
One of my favorite ways to find new restaurants is to ask friends who’ve moved to the U.S. from another country about their favorite Jacksonville restaurant. Recently I asked a Chinese friend to tell me about his favorite Asian restaurant in Jax. He responded by telling me, “You won’t believe me but this new Asian buffet Sakura is my favorite restaurant in Jax.” I started laughing and incredulously asked, “Seriously?!!!! You expect me to believe that an Asian buffet is one of the best restaurants in Jax?” I’m here to tell you that seeing is believing.
Walking into Sakura you notice a few things immediately. First off, the place is huge. I counted and there are roughly 70 different ready to eat hot food options on the 10 buffet tables. There are also easily 75-100 tables altogether in the various dining areas. Secondly it is spotlessly clean. I’ve never been in a Chinese buffet that’s this clean. Maybe it’s because they just opened, but either way it’s nice to walk into a buffet restaurant where cleanliness is valued. Too often it falls by the wayside. Lastly the food quality is really good and most of the food appears to be kept pretty darn fresh. We don’t expect 4 star food at an Asian buffet but we do expect food that is fresh and stands up to the quality at a decent Chinese takeout spot. That’s pretty much what we got.
Seeing as how we tried nearly half of the food items on the buffet, we won’t go through each one. We’ll just hit the noteworthy aspects of what’s available at Sakura Asian Buffet.
Starting with your basic Chinese food options there are several buffets with varieties of chicken, beef, and seafood, including even cold and hot steamed crawfish options. There is a sushi buffet with 20 types of sushi or sashimi, plus seaweed salad. You can expect the basics like California and Philly rolls along with more elaborate sushi rolls with various sauces and topped with different cuts of fish. It’s not amazing sushi but it’ll do on a buffet at a great price given what all is included.
The real value included in Sakura is the cook to order hibachi buffet. On this buffet you will find a variety of raw ingredients from noodles and rice to a plethora of veggies to egg to meats. Steak, shrimp and chicken options are all available as far as meats go. Pile up your plate with whatever you want cooked on a grill table teppanyaki style, and hand it to the chefs to cook it up for you. There are several sauces the chefs offer to cook with your meal from soy or teriyaki to garlic to spicy pepper and a few others. The food cooks in a matter of minutes.
There are restaurants with this choose-your-raw-ingredients-and-we-will-cook-it-up-for-you thing as their entire concept. We don’t have any of those restaurants in Jax, unfortunately, so this option at Sakura is especially exciting.
For dessert they’ve got a soft serve ice cream machine and a variety of pastry type dessert and jello options.
The final piece of information you need to know is in regards to pricing. Sakura is a deal at $8.99 for lunch, $9.99 for dinner during the week, and $10.99 on the weekends. Kid meals are priced based on age. Show me another place in town you can get a huge plate of hibachi/teppanyaki fare for $10! You can’t beat this price for this quality of food anywhere else in town. For a hibachi grill dinner with just chicken or shrimp you’d pay more and the quality wouldn’t be significantly different. For a wide variety of Chinese food, sushi, cook to order teppanyaki/hibachi, and ice cream, Sakura provides a delicious dinner value.