By Alice Levitt
Growing up near New York City, my family shopped at a grocery store in Yonkers called Meiji-ya almost as much as much as at our local supermarket. In Vermont, the only place (besides my home) where I can get my Japanese home- cooking fix is Sakura. So, still not sated after making some yakisoba the previous night, James and I headed off to Williston.
A grocery as well as restaurant, Sakura has a selection of Japanese soft drinks, including my childhood staple, Ramuné ($1.90). The glass bottle is sealed with a marble, and comes with a plunger to free the clear, sugary drink.
The sushi is always fresh, creative and unpretentious, but that night, we warmed up admirably with some good ol' stick-to-your-ribs cookin'. I started with the vegetable croquette curry ($6.99), a bundle of mashed potatoes, carrots, peas and corn, deep-fried and slathered in the mild curry gravy which I consider my lifeblood. James began with a plate of gyoza ($4.25), pork and cabbage dumplings, with a refreshingly zingy vinegared soy sauce.
Next James went for the unagidon ($6.99), a bowl of rice covered with tender and slightly crispy, but very clean-tasting eel in a light teriyaki sauce. I was in the mood for some thick, bouncy udon and chose the beef noodles ($8.25). The broth was sweetly meaty, like a pho, but with the slight brine added by bonito flakes. Chunks of sweet and tangy Korean-style beef rested on top. When munching at Sakura I'll often get the beef sans soup, with rice and a side salad ($10.99).
It's just like my imaginary Japanese mama used to make.