NJ Dining: Sakura Bana (UPDATED)

Sakura Bana Restaurant
43 Franklin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
(201) 447-6525

(Original post May 23, 2006)

I’ve lived in the Northern NJ area for over a decade, but I was completely unaware that we had perhaps one of the most top-quality, Japanese-owned and managed sushi restaurants in the entire suburban NYC metro area, until I was recently introduced to the place by Christine Nunn, proprietor of Picnic Caterers in Emerson. Sakura Bana, which is now celebrating its 23rd year in business, is serving sushi and sashimi that you would have to pay two or three times the amount if you went into Manhattan to have at one of the top ten sushi restaurants, such as Sushi Yasuda, Kuruma Zushi, Nobu, BondSt, Blue Ribbon Sushi, or Sushisay (now on 71st street).

Chef Ken, beaming over his newly renovated restaurant.

Sakura Bana is run by Chef Ken, who leads a team of five Japanese sushi chefs that create some of the most incredible sushi creations you are going to find anywhere in the NY Metro area. In addition to the artful presentation, the fish is pristine and the variety is far more impressive then what you’d find at your typical, utility suburban sushi restaurant. Various grades of tuna are available, including chutoro, as well as kanpachi, suzuki and yellowtail belly, the list goes on. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

In Late 2006 Sakura Bana closed for an extensive 5 month renovation, which included expansion of the dining room, the sushi bar and the kitchen space. Its re-opening on May 15, 2007 was highly anticipated by its large crowd of loyal regulars, many of who refused to eat sushi anywhere else until Chef Ken sharpened his knife and opened for business again.

Ken-San preparing Spicy Tuna Wontons (2007)

Sakura Bana is the closest you will likely get to a real Tokyo sushi experience in Northern New Jersey. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

A sushi boat being prepared by the newest addition to the Sakura Bana chef crew.

In 2007, the sushi bar underwent extensive renovations.

The boys at work.

Main Dining Room

Spicy Tuna Wontons (2007)

Spicy Tuna Wonton Closeup

Beef Tataki (2007)

Duck Salad (2007)

Zaru Soba (2007)

Glen Rock Roll (2007)

Amaebi with Anago (2007)

Caribbean Roll (2007)

Kobe Beef (2007)

Special Soft Shell Crab Roll (2007)

Lobster Roll (2007)

Futomaki (2007)

Sashimi Plate (2007)

2006 Photos Below


Caribbean Roll (2006) with Tuna and Mango.


Anago, egg sushi. Note that Sakura Bana uses real Wasabi rhizome, not horseradish with green food coloring.


Salmon Sashimi



Fried fish wonton appetizer, offered as “service”


Fresh, live Sea Urchin (Uni)


Amaebi, sweet shrimp (2006)


“Peter” Roll.


“Dynamite” roll.


Baby octopus appetizer


Fresh Fried Shrimp appetizer.


An assortment of nigiri sushi pieces: Toro, Chutoro, Kanpachi (Amberjack) and Tai (Red Snapper)


Oshitashi, a type of vinegared cooked cold spinach salad.


Live Lobster.


Live lobster, transformed into sashimi (click for video) The carapace (still moving) is removed from the plate and cooked into miso soup as a second course.


Lobster sashimi, closeup


Lobster Miso Soup (Half Portion)


“Special” (Omakase) Chirashi Sushi


Kanpachi (Amberjack) with Scallion (Negi)


Grilled Mirugai (Giant Clam) skewers


Dragon Roll


Fried Giant Prawn Head (cooked and removed from Omakase chirashi sushi platter)


Tuna / Avocado / Asparagus Sashimi Salad

Laurie Roll, California Roll with baked Scallop in a mayonnaise sauce on top.

Hot Okinawa, Spicy Tuna and Avocado with Tempura Flakes.

Eel Box

Tempura Shrimp (2010)

Special Roll (2010)

King Crab (2010)

Ken-San examines his Uni

Fried Fish/Mushroom Appetizer (2010)

Special Roll (2010)

Eel (2010)

Nigiri Sushi (2010)

Sashimi / Nigiri Sushi Plate (2010)

Fried Ebi (2010)

Mackerel (2010)

Nigiri Sushi (2010)

19 Responses to NJ Dining: Sakura Bana (UPDATED)

  1. Raindog says:

    Holy shit, where’d I put my car keys? I hope you were with a whole bunch of people — that is a hell of a lot of food.

    BTW, egullet has really slid since you left.

  2. […] The restaurant mecca of Englewood is home to a number of sushi dens, including the much-beloved and frequently-packed Wild Ginger. But for my money, if I’m not heading out to the super-authentic Japanese-run Sakura Bana in Ridgewood, or eating at some of my favorite sushi places in NYC, I like to dine at Daruma, which opened in late 2004. […]

  3. Rosie says:

    I have to ask! ; ) Is it BYO?

  4. Yup. Always has been.

  5. double 0 says:

    Anouther great choice is Gen in Woodcliffe Lake. This unknown rates right there with the best in NJ. Nothing special in decor, but the food more than makes up for it. An extra bonus is that in the swaqme shopping center is Canton Garden. a really good Cantonese that serves Dim Sum on the weekends. Both BYO.

  6. roger says:

    mm.. looks tasty! will have to give it a try sometime when i’m in the area. don’t know if i’ll be able to order quite as much food though.. :)

  7. Joe Esposito says:


    I grew up eating at SB. It’s where I learned to eat sushi, and where my family still goes. Next time you are in Ridgewood, be sure to check out Van Dyke’s Ice Cream on Ackerman Ave towards Glen Rock.

    Last time I was there, they had an *amazing* cantaloupe ice cream.

    Good stuff.

    Great Blog!

    –food /photog / linux geek :)

  8. joe says:

    Do they still have live lobster sashimi?

  9. He does it as a special sometimes.

  10. HOT DAMN> i hope you brought pepto bismol for dessert!

  11. RG says:

    I haven’t been here, but it definitely looks good. However, I would say from the looks of these pictures, is nothing at all like a “real Tokyo sushi experience.” My In-Laws are Japanese and live in Tokyo, so I have been there many times. Eaten sushi there many times. Generally, the sushi there is less elaborate — nori, a type of fish, and rice. Not all of these fancy Americanized (though delicious) rolls. And for the record, the best sushi I have had, and consistently, is in Los Angeles, and a little place on Sawtelle.

  12. […] is almost always congested with local traffic. That being said, two of my favorite restaurants, Sakura Bana and Dim Sum Dynasty are based there, so I tolerate the occasional hassle of getting there and […]

  13. slpernie says:

    what are the prices like? can two people eat well for 60-70$?

  14. Sam says:

    Anago is Sea Water Eel, Tamago is Egg.

  15. Juhan says:

    There’s also a Sakura Bana near Palisades Mall that has an awesome deal. All you can eat apps, entrees and sushi menu style for only 15 bux for lunch & 20 for dinner. Stuffed myself with sashimi! =P

  16. Nicole says:

    Anyone been able to figure out the ingredients of the salad dressing?

  17. gita says:

    my husband and i have been coming here with our friends for 6 years. this is the best place we have ever eaten japanese. no matter where else we eat sushi, we always keep coming back here. aside from Great sushi, the staff is trully friendly.

  18. Anna says:

    All looks very yummy, though.. I do find the words ”Baby Octopus” And ”Appetizer” a bit at conflict, it made me feel like not eating for a while, it always does, just can’t bring myself around to the idea of eating them without feeling sad. Silly I know.

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