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Sakura Express opens Monday

Sakura Express, an Asian cuisine restaurant with Japanese, Chinese and Thai food, opens Monday. The restaurant features food cooked on a traditional Japanese hibachi grill and a variety of sushi options, appetizers, soup and salad and multiple no...

Missy Lin (left) Andy Weng and Yan Lin stand outside the Sakura Express Restaurant which is scheduled to open on January 18 in northeast Brainerd. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)
Missy Lin (left) Andy Weng and Yan Lin stand outside the Sakura Express Restaurant which is scheduled to open on January 18 in northeast Brainerd. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)

Sakura Express, an Asian cuisine restaurant with Japanese, Chinese and Thai food, opens Monday.

The restaurant features food cooked on a traditional Japanese hibachi grill and a variety of sushi options, appetizers, soup and salad and multiple noodle dishes with vegetables, chicken, steak or shrimp. Noodles range from a thick, white yaki udon Japanese noodles to Chinese lo mein noodles and Pad Thai rice noodles.

Owner Missy Lin said she believes the restaurant will offer a healthy option for people.

"I like Japanese food so much," Lin said. "I love sushi a lot. I like all kind of sushi. ... It's very healthy. That's why it's my favorite."

Sakura Express includes a drive-thru, as well as dining area inside the restaurant. Lin said she thinks their menu offerings of Japanese food-and an extensive variety of sushi rolls-sets the restaurant apart and fills an existing gap here.

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She said Sakura Express will provide an alternative to people who are looking for convenience, but are seeking a healthier alternative to pizza or hamburgers. Sakura Express is opening in the former Jimmy's Pizza, which was the first location for Taco John's before it built a new restaurant to the east. Lin said Sakura Express will provide customers with lighter fare after a long work day compared to other options currently available.

Lin said she was encouraged to bring a Japanese food restaurant here after a visit to Brainerd. Her brother lives in Wadena. Her family has restaurant experience, including the Four Seas Buffet in Wadena and there is another Sakura Express location in Buffalo.

Lin said she thinks the hibachi grill will be a popular draw with options of a variety of chicken, shrimp and steak with vegetables and steamed rice. The menu also includes appetizers, such as thinly slices seared tuna with ponzu sauce, steamed green soybeans and gyoza-Japanese pan-fried dumplings-and harumaki, a Japanese spring roll with pork. Soup and salad offerings include a traditional Japanese miso soup with tofu and a seaweed salad.

Sushi rolls include raw and cooked fish options with multiple variations with sushi-tuna, salmon or crab rolls-along with avocado, cucumber or cream cheese. A deep-fried California roll includes crabmeat, cucumber and avocado. A sushi lunch combo roll gives diners the option to mix rolls.

Lin said there are many options for cooked sushi as well as the raw versions. Lin said while there are sushi options in Brainerd, she feels their restaurant will be set apart by its focus on fresh fish.

"That's very important," Lin said, adding sushi will be made fresh to order for customers.

In addition to the dining inside the restaurant, drive-through and takeout, the restaurant is offering catering services.

Prices range from $1.75 for miso soup to $16.95 for hibachi steak and chicken, chicken and shrimp or steak and shrimp entrees with vegetables and rice. Many of the items are in the $5 to $8 range. Lunch specials, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with hibachi vegetables, steamed rice and chicken, steak or shrimp, are about $8 or $9.

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Sakura Express, on Washington Street is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The restaurant is closed Sundays.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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