Yokoso! That is Japanese for ‘welcome’, and sets the scene for another in the occasional series of Marhaba Thursday Night OutTM!

We were invited to old friend Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha to sample the delights at Sakura restaurant. This is an authentic teppanyaki and sushi bar, nestled away in the West Wing (of the hotel, not the White House) and is a true treasure.

Diners will enter the restaurant through a wooden archway into a small ‘alleyway’, for want of a better description, with a stone-paved floor, a soothing shade of teal on the walls and a small water feature with koi carp. The restaurant then opens up to reveal its two famous charms – the sushi bar to your left and the teppanyaki grill in front of you, with other seating around the periphery and private dining rooms.

The teppanyaki bar was where we were headed, and after perusing the extensive menu we chose our starters. My dining partner had been practising with his chopsticks all week, which came in useful for the hotate furai, deep-fried scallops with volcano sauce. They were enormous parcels of succulent seafood, and the sauce had a good kick to it. Meanwhile, I tucked into a delicious platter of maki, which we had watched being prepared at the sushi bar. This was excellent – fresh, held together well and full of flavour.

Once our plates had been cleared away, we were handed bibs. Bibs? Had we made such a mess with our starters that we were embarrassing ourselves? Thankfully no. It is, we were informed, a mere precaution for what is about to happen …

If you haven’t had the full teppanyaki experience before, one could be forgiven for thinking it is simply a chef standing at a grill pushing around proteins and vegetables. Not at Sakura! Get your cameras ready, friends, and settle back for the entertainment!

Teppanyaki is not so much a meal as a show. Chef Mark came out with his trolley of tricks and proceeded to throw knives and spatulas around with much fervour, all while overseeing the various items on the grill and carrying on a conversation with us. Suddenly eggs were being thrown in the air and we could now see why bibs are provided – one wrong move and you could literally have egg on your face. No need to worry though, as the utensils and eggs were in good hands – thank you, Chef!

With the theatrics over and your mouth watering, you are served a fabulous meal. Chopsticks Chap had a mix of sirloin steak and chicken breast, while I opted for the king prawns. Both options were cooked to perfection, and accompanied by a large amount of well-seasoned vegetables and egg fried rice. What’s Japanese for yum?!

Sakura restaurant has everything you could want for a great Thursday night out (or indeed any other day of the week). Excellent food, excellent entertainment, excellent service. Brush up on your Japanese before going so that you know the word for yum!

The Sakura teppanyaki and sushi bar is open daily from 6 pm – 11 pm. Bookings are recommended if you want to watch the teppanyaki chefs work their magic. 4428 1555

Author: Sarah Palmer

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