I wear several hats in life: doctoral student, proctor (a polite way of saying “adult babysitter”), and web developer. The latter is supposed to compliment my doctoral skill set, as educators often juggle multiple hats themselves—curriculum specialists and instructional designer among them. In my exploration in the world of web design culture, I came across a phrase that was borrowed from computer programmers:
Fast, efficient, cheap: pick two.
The idea behind the phrase is that an application designed to be efficient and done quickly isn’t going to be cheap. One designed to be efficient and cheap isn’t likely going to be finished quickly. And one developed quickly and on the cheap isn’t likely going to be efficient. Solid application design must measure and balance all three in order to produce quality product. In my food travels, I’ve borrowed this notion and extended it out to restaurants—let’s call it the Fat Panda Restaurant Equation because I'm too lazy to think of a cute acronym:
Fast, cheap, tasty, healthy, quality: For a one-star restaurant, pick one…two if you’re lucky. Add one for each star added to the restaurant.
I’ll leave you to run the permutations of the combinations. For example, McDonalds is fast and cheap, but negligible on taste and even more negligible on nutritional balance. Try it with your favorite restaurants some time…and be honest when you do it. It’s almost universal.
Japanese food, while known for being tasty and healthy, is rarely cheap, much less fast. Sakura Xpress tries to balance out the four factors. Nestled on the western edge of the NCSU campus, Sakura Xpress is a fast food Japanese restaurant that blends its Japanese offerings with Thai and Chinese dishes, to create a diverse Asian dining experience. I’ve been driving by the building for the last year, and something tells me that it’s a recycled space that might be featured on Not Fooling Anybody, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it was in its previous life. A Dairy Queen, perhaps?
The interior of the restaurant is spacious, with minimalistic décor. The ceilings are high, and the dining room is divided into several smaller areas—a front dining area, a smaller dining area in the rear, and two “wings” on each side. In addition to the tables and chairs, a small bar area separates the dining room from the food prep area.