Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sakura Spring, Cherry Hill

South Jersey is home to many great restaurants, some of them being well known, others being hidden gems.  Just the way of life I suppose.

It's always nice to find a hidden gem isn't it?  To that end, I recently had the opportunity to dine at Sakura Spring at 1871 Marlton Pike (Route 70) East in Cherry Hill.  To be honest, this was the first time I ever even went into the Heritage Square shopping center where Sakura Spring is located.  Unfortunately, this plaza is on the retail version of life support it seems.  The Syms building, which neighbors Heritage Square, has sat vacant for probably over a year now, and multiple storefronts in Heritage Square appear empty while others don't seem to be the types to drive lots of foot traffic.  Suffice it to say, I wasn't sure what to expect when I met a friend here, but I'm always open to new places to go, and I wound up being pleasantly surprised.

The first thing that struck me as I walked in was the welcoming decor, a zen-like design that must epitomize feng shui (which is not my area of expertise, but I think it's safe to assume that feng shui principles were applied to the interior design).  A glass waterfall is the focal centerpiece, and the color scheme is very comforting and relaxing.  The overall appearance is very unexpected when considering the run-of-the-mill appearance of the shopping center in general.  A hidden gem indeed!

The menu at Sakura Spring contains Chinese and Japanese dishes, ranging from General Tso's chicken to sushi and pretty much everything in between.  The restaurant's lunch menu is rather expansive yet inexpensive as there are many dishes for about $8 that get you soup, a main dish, and rice, all delivered with a classy presentation.  Not being very adventurous, I went for the sweet and sour chicken with brown rice and wanton soup and I enjoyed each dish.  The chicken seemed like it was not the typical pre-packaged, frozen type, but rather made on site, and the rice was nice and fluffy, while the wanton soup hit the spot on a chilly winter day.

A steady flow of customers trickled in throughout my time there, yet it never felt like it was "packed" since the restaurant is pretty sizable so tables are spread out, plus the overall peaceful ambiance sets the tone to those dining here that it's not a raucous chain restaurant.  Perhaps ironically, there is a separate room for private karaoke parties, which tend to raise the volume level, but I imagine that this room is secluded and wouldn't be very impactful on the main dining area.  Just a guess.

Anyway, if you're looking to escape the drudgery of a your average Chinese restaurant and want to enjoy a relaxing meal in the heart of South Jersey, Sakura Spring is a great choice.  You'll enjoy finding out about this hidden gem on your own, give it a shot!

One sidenote:  The only quirk to be aware of is driving there, although it's very convenient to Route 295, which is a plus.  If you're heading West on Route 70, you'll pass over Springdale Rd. and you actually have to go down to make the jug handle by way of Rockhill Road (just past Big John's), past Greentree Rd.  Also, there is no left hand turn from Greentree Road onto Route 70 going East, so keep that in mind.  When you approach the plaza, don't make the mistake that I did of pulling into the Syms parking lot figuring that you can cut through to Heritage Plaza's parking lot, because you can't!  Fortunately, if you park in front of Syms, it's just a few extra steps to Sakura Spring, so it's certainly not the end of the world.  And if you are leaving Sakura Spring and need to head West on Route 70, you have to make a right going East on 70, and your best bet is to do a U-turn at one of the cutouts past Springdale Rd.  Perhaps this adds up to one of the reasons why Sakura Spring is a hidden gem because it's a tad bit tricky to get there, but fear not, it's worth the mini-driving adventure.

If you want to learn more about this recommended dining establishment, visit Sakura Spring's website (which, as of this publishing, doesn't do the restaurant justice since it's a pretty clunky design for a website) or call 856-489-8018. 

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