Let’s Do Lunch at Senbon Sakura

Stan returns to previously visited premises, surprised to find an altogether different eatery – one which offers Far Eastern delights.

I had decided to have a stroll down Great George Street and in doing so noticed that Centro, the fairly basic English cafe, had morphed into a Japanese cafe kitchen called Senbon Sakura, even though there were still shop signs outside bearing the name of the previous business.  This was a novelty for me as it was the first time I had visited premises where I have previously done a review. The restaurant trade being what it is, the premises may be the same but the occupant has changed.

I find it to be of great comfort eating in this particular part of Leeds as, should something go horribly wrong, you are just across the road from the Leeds General Infirmary. The air of the establishment reassured me that the only food that I would be reviewing would be that provided by the restaurant rather than the LGI canteen and, taking heed of the sign saying ’New Lunch Menu’, I went in. I was greeted by a very affable man behind the counter who told me that the change occurred months before.

There are no printed menus, the only bill of fare being a large wall mounted list behind the counter. It also seems that the full menu is available all day, including the ‘Lunch’ section. I was told that the curry was popular but I was looking to cut back on the calories as I had a trip abroad booked and would prefer to save my pigging out until I was sur la continent, so I ordered sushi. There was a good selection from which I chose the Meaty Box at £5.95. The contents were listed as being Spicy Chicken Iso (3), Chicken Teriyaki Iso (3) and Cucumber Maki (6). There was no alcohol available so I ordered a cafetiere of Rose Tea at £3.20.

I was advised to take a seat and the order would be brought to my table. I noticed that all of the other customers seemed to be of far eastern origin, which is a good sign, but when the meal arrived I was a little disappointed to see that the sushi was in a sealed plastic carton and the wasabi in a small sachet. The waiter said that I should give the rose tea a few minutes to infuse. I opened the various forms of packaging and began to eat lunch. My first taste was a tentative dab of the wasabi paste on the tip of my little finger to test where on the nuclear scale it registered, but whilst hot it was not life-threatening. I need not have worried about the sushi either as it was the best I think I have ever tasted. The flavour of the various fillings came through strongly, each piece being larger than normal and well constructed. The rose tea was also flavoursome and took the pink colour of the flowers, making it look as good as it tasted.

By this time all thoughts of self-restraint had evaporated but there was no dessert section to the menu, although there was a plate of Rocky Road on the counter so I had a piece of that(£1.40). After the lightness of the sushi and the delicacy of the rose tea, the cake hit my stomach like a chunk of lead, another case of eyes being bigger than belly.

After chatting to the waiter I learned that some items on the menu are having their recipes tweaked, which I’m quite sure has been achieved by now. I can heartily recommend this place for lunch, either to eat in or take out, and I hope that it remains under the same ownership for years to come. I would suggest giving the Rocky Road a miss though.

Mange toutes,

Stan Graham

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