This was our second visit to Sake no Hana having previously delighted in their exquisite menu in August. So it was no surprise when I asked my daughter where she wanted to celebrate her birthday just with mum, it was going to be Sake no Hana for sure.
Looking at the menu before hand, I was delighted to see a special Saturday menu which included the word sushi so I knew my daughter was going to be equally as excited, I’ve mentioned in previous posts, she adores this Japanese staple. This was the Umai Sushi Saturdays and it sounded amazing and such good value at £49 per person which is a 7 course menu and includes a welcome cocktail and half a bottle of Louis Roederer Premier NV Champagne each each. At 15, my daughter obviously doesn’t drink so she was able to enjoy her welcome mocktail plus two more. As we settled down, we were going to be in for a treat because on this particular weekend (30th September) there was a special Japanese annual ceremony, International Sake Day which was really fitting as it was Zoe’s birthday. This event is very special in the Japanese Calendar, it marks the first day in the sake making season. It is also important for symbolic reasons because the tenth year, hour and month are represented in the Chinese zodiac system by an ancient character that is also the symbol for sake! Being present during this ceremony also brings good luck, sounds even better to me.
The ceremony was due to start around 15 minutes after we arrived, so exciting! We also had good tables as we were very close to the the huge beautifully decorated barrel containing sake. The cocktail that I chose was the Coupette No.3, a spicy pink concoction of No.3 gin, ginger, pink grapefruit, vanilla, the kick came with the addition of chilli. Zoe went for the Shi Shi Cooler which was a mix of nashi pear, lychee, shisho, coconut and lime, I thought it was lovely, but Zoe found it a tad too sweet even though she soon finished it. As we were enjoying our drinks, the ceremony started with the manager of the restaurant telling us a bit about this tradition, the head sommelier was also present as she was going to be breaking or rather smashing the barrel to welcome the first sake of the season with the help of one of the diners who was actually the guy sitting near us, he was rather too merry but he did a good job. It was great to be a part of this special day at Sake no Hana, we all got a small cup of sake which I really do like. It’s one of those drinks that is quite deceptive in it’s potency, it just sort of creeps up on you and then with a loud bang, you’ve had one too many.
The first course to arrive was the delicious miso soup called Shiro misoshiru, just as we remembered it from our last visit, it’s such a welcome beginning to this 7 course menu and as with the last time, no spoon means you drink this soup as if you’re having a cup of tea, savoury deliciousness.
Second course which Sake call “small eat” was Horenso Gomaae, sesame spinach with cassava chips. I adore spinach often having it 3-4 times per week, I wish I could make it like this, it was garlicky and just so moorish, very light in readiness for another five yummy dishes. As I had finished my cocktail by then, our waiter explained the champagne would arrive with course number three, Zoe though chose her second mocktail, a favourite from last time called the Cherry Iced Tea, a mix of maraschino cherry, jasmine tea and lime.
Next on the menu is the Hassun, basically, it’s lots of small side dishes in Japanese and we had a mix of three, my absolute favourite tempura prawns served with wasabi mayonnaise (no one does it better than Sake no Hana) a sweet fried aubergine with garlic and miso, and tuna with egg yolk emulsion and micro herbs. As our waiter said, the star was the aubergine and he was wasn’t wrong, it was a melt in the mouth treat, I could eat at Sake no Hana every week if I could, it’s just the most delicious Japanese ever.
My champagne had also arrived by now, how I adore champagne, previously disliking this effervescent fizz, it has to be my favourite tipple now. We were now on course number four, Zoe’s favourite, the sushi! This was Nigiri sushi, a selection of seabass, yellow tail (a more luxury type of tuna) salmon and Ebi (prawn/shrimp) Zoe was in heaven and wanted more but I reminded her that course number six was essentially the proper sushi that she recognises, maki rolls.
Course number five was the main course and there was a choice of four, chargrilled salmon on hoba leaf with red miso teriyaki, chargrilled miso chicken with sesame chilli miso, prawn and vegetable tempura, I was very tempted to pick this one however the last on the menu was a no brainer for non vegetarians.
Rib eye beef Sukiyaki with shiitake and tofu in a delicious meaty sake and mirin sauce with the addition of yuzu and a very unusual, candy floss! Indeed, it added an unusual sweetness, this was a masterpiece and one I completely recommend for meat lovers, it wasn’t just visually stunning, it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, Zoe too loved this dish and believe it or not, it was the star of the day for her! what, not the sushi? sushi is always readily available but this dish was something we will never have anywhere else so it was a wonderful treat and absolutely divine.
The unusual addition of candy floss.
It was served with a truffle and wild mushroom rice which complemented and absorbed the robust meaty sauce of this traditional Japanese casserole which was cooked at the table in an earthenware pot with flame underneath similarly used in fondues, our waiter expertly oversaw the whole ritual, it was perfection.
and another glass of gorgeous Louis Roederer champagne!
We were by now getting quite stuffed as I was enjoying my champagne and Zoe was on her last mocktail, the Nihon Blue, blueberries, elderflower, rose and lemon but there was adequate time between each course to take a breather. My daughter’s favourite, course number six, the sushi course with plenty of toe curling wasabi and ginger. This was a mix of crab, white fish, avocado and shiitake and cucumber, some of the maki rolls had the crispy fried crumbs on the outside which we both loved on our previous visit. Zoe was absolutely loving her special birthday treat with mum, as full as she was, she would never say no to sushi, she had a glow of culinary happiness about her and I was so happy to treat my not so little 15 year old girl to her favourite restaurant.
Zoe’s favourite, sushi.
Final dishes on the menu were the desserts, this is of course the dish I always look forward to at restaurants, I have a real sweet tooth and I devour desserts. Zoe opted for the Matcha creation – cherry, lychee and matcha parfait encased in a tube of white chocolate matcha with olive coloured matcha/chocolate soil and cherries.
I chose the Bamboo, a sphere resembling bamboo filled with white chocolate mousse on a bed of chocolate soil and kumquats, we finished off our lunch with a steaming cup of green tea.
The team at Sake no Hana were so kind to offer an extra treat for my daughter for her birthday, a trio a really delicious ice creams came out to greet her which we both just about had an inch of space to finish off.
Zoe doing what she does best, on her her mobile! that’s teens for you.
Another experience at SakenoHana is over but it definitely won’t be our last. This is definitely a Japanese dining experience that stays with you and as part of the famed Hakkasan group, Sake no Hana know just what the discerning dining customer expects, they deliver for sure. At £49 per person, the Umai Sushi Saturdays is something you really have to come and enjoy if you want Japanese food brimming with exciting dishes and then there’s the champagne, this is a dining experience that really is value for money, you can’t go wrong with Sake no Hana’s UmaiSushiSaturdays and I for one really hope they keep this concept going.
Umai Sushi Saturdays Menu priced at £49 per person, includes a cocktail and half a bottle of Louis Roederer Premier NV Champagne each.
Sake no Hana
23 St James Street
020 7925 8988