It’s that time of year again and one of my favourite restaurants, Sake No Hana, is once again in bloom. Every year the Asian restaurant in St James celebrates Sakura, cherry blossoms that flower for a transient period of time in Japan.
A gorgeous art installation by celebrated British artist Rebecca Louise Law has been ‘planted’ on the restaurant’s ceiling in honour of the tradition so patrons can dine under cherry blossoms just like the hanami parties in Japan. The installation is made up of thousands of preserved real flowers which enhance the already stunning forest-like architecture of the restaurant. Law is best know for using natural, organic materials sculpted using her signature copper wire so that her artwork expresses a different kind of beauty and a symbiosis preservation and decay. Perfect for the sakura sentiment which is used as a metaphor for the transience of life.
Alongside the art work Head Chef Hideki Hiwatashi has created a limited edition set menu inspired by the cherry blossom trees.
Every year there’s a new cocktail paired with the Sakura menu and this time cherry is the main theme. The Hanami cocktail combines akashi-tai honjozo sake, belsazar white vermouth, cherry liqueur, bold aperitif and lavender bitters and it has just the right level of sweetness balanced with acid, I loved the elegant glasses too.
A staple of Japanese cuisine and a favourite of ours, the sakura menu starts off with miso soup, drunk the Japanese way straight from the bowl. According to custom, the solid ingredients reflect the seasons and provide contrasts of colour, texture, and flavour, for this particular version the chef added a delicious tofu cake, spring onion and wakame.
Regular readers will know the sushi course is my favourite and it’s unmissable at Sake No Hana. The sushi itself is served in a beautiful perspex box and each piece gleams like a beautiful jewel inside.
There are three nigiri; maguro tuna (our favourite), amaebi prawns and salmon with the most delicious unctuous fat running through it. Rice to fish ratio was perfect for each.
We loved the maki rolls too, the chirashi was deliciously spicy, aburi salmon perfectly seared, california, shiso okra was a vegetarian option.
A little bonus was the sea bass nigiri wrapped in a bamboo leaf, a perfect little present to open and it tasted delicious too. Chef Hideki Hiwatashi hails from Hokkaido in north Japan and the sakura bento is inspired by his childhood home at spring time.
This year there’s a choice of four different main courses and we both saw our favourites among the options.
For me salmon with champagne yuzu miso sauce. The fish flaked apart just perfectly and it had the most delicious and delicate flavour, the light and very slightly sweet sauce was the perfect enhancement.
Mr Silver’s char-grilled rib eye beef with chilli ponzu was utterly delicious and perfectly cooked though he would have preferred a larger portion. If these options don’t float your boat there’s also the choice of prawns in a light tempura batter or the veggie tofu and aubergine in dashi broth.
The dessert is basically a work of art itself and the cherry chocolate delice was a pretty pink dome sat on sakura jelly, filled with bitter chocolate and enhanced with sour cherry the perfect representation of sakura in pudding form.
There’s the option of adding macarons to your set menu and I highly recommend doing so! The vanilla macarons with cherry blossom tea ganache are just stunning and provide the perfect complement to the rest of the menu.
Part of the Hakkasan Group, Sake No Hana is for me a restaurant that always delivers fantastic quality and incredible flavour which is why I’ve returned again and again. This is actually my fifth blog post on the restaurant! At £37 the Sakura set menu is great value for money but like the blossoms themselves, it won’t last long so pop down there before the 10th of June!
Sake No Hana
23 St James Stree
Our lunch was complimentary.