To celebrate sakura (the cherry blossom festival in Japan), we headed down to esteemed fine dining restaurant, Sake no Hana to sample head chef, Hideki Hiwatashi’s special sakura menu. Renowned architect, Kengo Kuma has designed a space that feels earthy and naturalistic with linear bamboos that form a large majority of the walls, as well as green tubing from the ceiling that further enhances the outdoor feel. Currently, they have also installed dazzling display of cherry blossom flowers to celebrate sakura. The only disappointment is it will all be taken down by mid-June.
I have been to Sake no Hana on a few occasion and have always felt that it has been under-appreciated by the general public. A similar sakura menu at one of their London competitors offered relatively little in terms of value. Here your experience starts off with a sumptuous looking Kaori Arpège cocktail; apart from having beautiful, smooth ingredients like yuzu sake, cherry liqueur, peach bitters and gin, it also comes with extra flavours you can add-on like Violette liqueur lipstick and perfume bottles with vanilla and elderflower liqueur flavours.
Care and dedication is evident in all parts of the menu, even from a deceptively simple looking miso soup which has a blossom shaped tofu that is gently flavoured with edamame peas. Along with wakame seaweed and spring onion, this is the type of soup that brings warmth to your body even if the weather outside isn’t quite ready for cherry blossoms.
The sushi and sashimi box is indicative of why the restaurant is up there with the very best in terms of being able to source the best quality raw fish. Even though on the menu it is written as akami(normal) tuna, it was definitely chutoro (medium fatty) grade tuna that was served. The meat would just melt in the mouth readily like butter. The ama ebi (sweet shrimp) nigiri was another delightfully fresh offering.
In case you were not sufficiently full by this point, there was also the main course in which we opted for the chicken sumiyaki. The shichimi sauce with their seven spices readily complemented the moist chicken meat with the skin made crispy so that a serial skin remover like myself had to temporarily drop a habit of a lifetime.
The cherry chocolate sake mousse was not to be missed with the dish presented like an actual cherry blossom painting and you would never have expected cherry, chocolate and sake to go together so magnificently well. If you’ve never been to Japan, sampling this sakura menu would definitely be the next best thing. Even if you are reading this review post-Sakura, the quality and style of Saka no Hana is clearly evident from the restaurant decor to their expertly constructed menus. If you are looking for a stylish fine dining Japanese restaurant, make sure you visit Saka no Hana soon.