Tableside cooking, like reading the last page of a novel or x-raying possible partners, is a great way to see exactly what you’re getting. Be in the know with today’s Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Teppan dishes, fresh sushi, and drinks at Sakura.
The dexterous chefs at Sakura—which was voted Best Japanese Food in 2011 by Tucson Lifestyle readers—deftly dice, flip, and flame Teppan dishes on tableside iron-boards. Nosh on calamari sea salt ($10.25) as you watch and wait for teppanyaki chicken ($16.95) or scallops and lobster ($32.95) to finish sizzling. Sushi chopsticks its way into fish-friendly mouths à la carte ($1.50–$11.25) or in combination platters for a delectable raw-fish experience that doesn’t require dunking your head into a pond. Numerous sakes, wines, beers, specialty drinks, and cocktails—including the Volcano, a bar mixologist concoction of alcohol set afire ($7)—titillate grown-up taste buds.
Live music encourages fancy footwork under the stars on the open-air patio, and wide-screen televisions throughout Sakura’s sports bar glare at patrons from their wall perches. Sports memorabilia and Japanese accents dot the walls, surrounded by framed photos of happy patrons, famous faces, and Rorschach inkblots.
Dancing flames erupt from teppan grills, illuminating the captivated faces of diners seated around the tabletop grill. The roaring fires are tamed by Sakura's highly skilled chefs, who playfully flip spatulas in the air before sizzling up plump morsels of teppanyaki steak, chicken, and seafood. Behind the sushi bar, chefs fold fresh fish into both raw and cooked specialty rolls, which reporters from Tucson Weekly lauded as "some of the most delicious seaweed, sweet vinegar rice and raw fish concoctions imaginable."
Kimono-clad waitresses glide through the lively dining rooms, bearing plates of sushi, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and colorful specialty cocktails. In the sports bar, the walls grasp massive flat screens and hundreds of pictures of the owner posing with local celebrities—from weather girls to the neighborhood grocery’s bag boy of the month. Towering chrome heaters warm the tabletops of the expansive outdoor patio, where colorful lights and hanging flags set the stage for live music performances each night.