Sakura Valley, Leyland: This Takeaway review takes a little time
On the end of a busy Leyland terrace street lit by the bright flashing lights of every fast food takeaway you can imagine, there stands a curious shop.
There is a menu displayed on the wall, above a handwritten sign in broken English advising that you must book in advance due to a lack of staff, then simply, “Staff needed”. It’s been like that for weeks.
Sakura Valley is a Japanese restaurant and takeaway that seems comfortable doing things its own way.
It doesn't feel as though it has to shout and boast from the rooftops, and it certainly isn’t looking to shift as much food to as many hungry punters as humanly possible.
If you want feeding, you have to give them warning; plan a day or two ahead is my advice.
No website, and no Just Eat, you’ll have to drop them a note on Facebook (where you’ll find the menu), and you’ll get a prompt and polite reply, telling you that everything will be ready just like you asked.
And ready it was, right on time, as I ventured into this tiny little establishment, full of diners (10 to be exact) practically sat on each other’s knees.
Bamboo poles in the ceiling hold curtains which offer the closest of parties the tiniest amount of privacy, and no more than four strides in and I was stood next to the chef, by the ovens.
As you’d expect from a Japanese restaurant, there’s plenty of sushi on offer, along with soups and noodle dishes.
For something a little different, I went to the main menu for Nikujaga; a Hokkaido style beef shin stew with Charlotte potato and carrot - a Far Eastern hot pot, if you will. At £10:50 though, the portion wasn’t huge.
Warming and generous, the ingredients were sizeable, soft like they had been cooking all day, and bobbing around in a watery soup-like pond.
To soak it up, a portion of steamed rice was a wise addition, although they needn’t have bothered with the chopsticks - I’d still have been eating it now.
Opposite me was an equally comforting bowl of Beef Ramen, which consisted of a tasty, clear soup stuffed full of noodles and vegetables topped with melt-in-the-mouth slices of perfectly cooked beef.
She’d also heard that the chicken gyoza, which are pan fried chicken dumplings in a little pasty shape were particularly tasty (they were), making a light and delicious starter she was reluctant to share.
We didn’t venture to the pudding menu, which only contains a single item; Taiyaki is a fish-shaped cake stuffed with sweetened red bean paste, but maybe next time.
A couple of small gripes - the restaurant is strictly cash only, so be prepared, and there seems to be no discount between the restaurant and takeaway prices; something I’ve come to expect from similar ventures.
But this is authentic cooking from genuine Japanese chefs, so if you’re feeling adventurous, go and explore. Just book ahead.