It seems like London has gone mad for autumn this year. I blame Instagram for the beautiful leafy displays outside shops and restaurants, captured for the ‘gram by my fellow Londoners One of my favourite restaurants and one of London’s best Japanese, Sake No Hana, has also got in on the action.
But what I didn’t realise was that this was a tradition that goes back thousands of years (long, long before Instagram) and something called momiji-gari, the act of viewing Japanese maple trees in various shades of reds, oranges and golds. A pretty installation adorns the outside of the restaurant while inside a special menu has been created by Executive Chef Hideki Hiwatashi.
The menu is a very reasonably priced £40 and for another £23 a sharing cocktail flight can be added. The first cocktail is served in these gorgeous mini glasses and is a lovely slightly tart flavour. The Shiso 54 is a mixture of Belvedere vodka, Midori, lime, shiso, Fever-Tree slim line tonic and Prosecco and is so easy to drink.
Everything is good at Sake No Hana, even the miso soup is utterly moreish. It’s also a twist on the usual containing wild mushroom and chilli yuzu.
A platter of appetisers or fukiyose means you can try a bit of everything and includes, tuna tartare with egg yolk sauce, delicious fried truffle rice with seasonal mushrooms a hearty bite of shiitake mushrooms filled with homemade tofu and wasabi sauce and sweet potato and beetroot crisps with soba noodles.
The next cocktail is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen and is made up of Belvedere vodka, cardamom, mandarin, yuzu and edible rice paper art. It’s a little sweeter than the other cocktail and pairs well with the savoury food. For main course there’s a choice of four and we opted to try the chargrilled miso chicken with sesame chilli miso and pan fried Loch Duart salmon with walnuts and Kyoto miso. Both were beautifully cooked, the chicken so tender and the salmon absolutely melt in the mouth.
I thought the salmon was the perfect portion size but I would have liked a little more chicken as well as the deliciously spicy padron peppers.
A sushi course is served next and being an absolute sushi fiend I would have loved a little more but given that the menu is £40, I think it’s a reasonable portion. My favourite was the tuna and white fish, avocado and cucumber maki. The wagyu beef maki had just the right amount of the very rich meat and it is paired with asparagus, caramelised onion and kizami wasabi.
The final drink of Maple Toddy was very Chrismassy including Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Akashi-Tai umeshu, ginger, maple, chocolate and edible rice paper.
A little bird must have told them it was my birthday the next day and the Autumn leaf dessert with hazelnut feuilletine and hazelnut chocolate parfait with chocolate and maple syrup soup and a mascarpone mousse came with an extra little message. Sake No Hana is part of the Hakkasan group (of which I’m a big fan) and honestly the restaurants in group do some of the best desserts that I’ve tried in London. This was no exception!
As usual I highly recommend Sake No Hana and the Autumn Leaves menu makes a truly great value lunch.
Sake No Hana
23 St James Street
I was invited to review.