Restaurant Sakura is a table service restaurant in American Waterfront at Tokyo DisneySea serving Japanese cuisine in a setting that looks like a waterfront fish market. In this post, we’ll review Restaurant Sakura, sharing food photos, a look inside the interior, and thoughts about how it compares to other table service spots at Tokyo Disney Resort.
Perhaps surprisingly, Restaurant Sakura is one of only two in-park Japanese restaurants at Tokyo Disney Resort. Its counterpart is Restaurant Hokusai, a restaurant in Tokyo Disneyland’s World Bazaar that we reviewed previously. Judging by the whopping 1 comment that review received, sit-down dining at restaurants in Japan is not exactly a hot topic. Who could’ve possibly known that?
Nevertheless, it’s a topic that interests me, so those of you who didn’t already close out get to hear about it. Personally, I think Restaurant Sakura and Hokusai are very comparable in terms of cuisine quality. So close, I’d say, that it’s a toss-up. We did the restaurants on consecutive days, and that was my conclusion. Unfortunately, everyone else in my posse (make that former posse) thinks I’m crazy…
Well, crazy might be a bit strong, but they disagreed. Sarah and the Selgas all preferred Restaurant Sakura. In fairness, Sarah puts riced cauliflower–a substance so disgusting the FDA should ban it and the DEA should list as a Schedule I drug–in all of our food, and I once witnessed Guy Selga wait in line for 30 minutes at Award Wieners.
This isn’t to say that Restaurant Sakura is bad. To the contrary, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I just don’t think there’s a huge distinction between the two. Anyway, let’s start with the cuisine…
Above is a look at one of the sets, each of which cost around $20 and include rice, seafood, and miso soup.
We found the tempura to be pretty good. A light breading and good taste.
The portion size could’ve been a bit larger, but that’s a refrain that could be echoed with just about any restaurant in Tokyo Disney Resort.
Restaurant Sakura also serves udon and other seasonal noodle dishes. We found the noodles here to be pretty good.
However, our favorite spot for noodles at Tokyo Disney Resort remains China Voyager, which is the #1 or #2 counter service restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland.
All in all, it’s basically a mix of traditional Japanese dishes served as sets. Fairly good selection, and good food for the park, but far from the best authentic cuisine you can find in Tokyo (or even Ikspiari). Okay, so now for ambiance…
The backstory of this restaurant is that Japanese immigrants refurbished a New York City fish market and turned it into a restaurant, where they still sell fresh seafood inside.
Like the rest of American Waterfront, it’s thematically convincing. It feels like an idealized version of a hole in the wall restaurant you could find along the port in New York, and there are plenty of details that make it feel lived-in. It’s clever, and it works.
My “problem” with this, if you want to call it that, is that this is a concept that’s pretty familiar to me. Restaurants along these lines abound in the United States. Moreover, this ‘repurposed space’ style is being done more and more by Disney (particularly at Walt Disney World Disney Springs), so we’ve become quite accustomed to it.
By contrast, Restaurant Hokusai is simpler and more straightforward, but its theme is classic and true to Japan. As a visitor to Japan, I find the subtle beauty and quality of the ‘big budget’ Imagineered Japanese restaurant to be more appropriate to the trip.
Reasonable minds may vary on that, but in a nutshell, that’s the main reason why I would choose Restaurant Hokusai over Restaurant Sakura. I realize not everyone is going to agree with me on which theme is more compelling, but I’d suggest that be the deciding factor, all else being equal. (That, or whether you want to do table service in Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea.)
Overall, we don’t actively recommend either restaurant…unless you’re actually seeking out Japanese cuisine and for some reason won’t visit Tokyo proper. If you’re just generally looking for a good place to eat in either park, and are not concerned with the type of cuisine, I’d recommend first-timers go elsewhere. Tokyo DisneySea has at least 3 table service restaurants that are better than Restaurant Sakura from a cuisine perspective, and several counter service restaurants that are more compelling thematically. Restaurant Sakura is good, but not good enough to choose it over the alternatives.
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan for the first time and are overwhelmed with planning, definitely check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Planning Guide. It covers much more than the parks, from getting there to WiFi to currency and much, much more. For more photos and an idea of what we did day-by-day during our first visit, read our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report.
Have you dined at Restaurant Sakura? Do you agree or disagree with my take on Restaurant Sakura v. Restaurant Hokusai? Does this restaurant interest you, or would you prefer to dine elsewhere in Tokyo DisneySea? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!