Updated: Jan 13, 2019
For those of you who know me well, Japanese is one of my favorite cuisine if not my favorite one. Since it's been a while since I last did an article on food-tasting, I decided to bring you all to a Japanese sushi restaurant that I have recently discovered in London -- Sake no Hana.
To begin with, a little bit background information about the restaurant. Featured in the Michelin Guide 2018, Sake no Hana offers modern authentic Japanese dining including charcoal grill, toban and kamameshi dishes, sushi and sashimi.
What I like about the restaurant is not just the fantastic and authentic dishes you could get there, but also its interior. As shown in the picture above, the restaurant is transformed momentarily to feature an art installation created by London-based artist Lydia Kasumi Shirreff. This, as a matter of the fact, is to pay homage to the ancient tradition of ‘hanami’, or flower viewing of the Japanese cherry blossom season.
In fact, I was very fortunate that I could visit the restaurant on the very last day which the art installation is featured for 2018. It has been a particularly delightful experience having such an amazing meal under such pleasing atmosphere.
Sake no Hana offers a set menu called Umai Sushi Saturdays every saturday from 12pm to 3pm. This 7-course lunch menu was inspired by the Japanese tradition where people would 'enjoy a number of different dishes during a meal, including subtly flavoured soups and delicately textured sashimi, substantial dishes of meats, fish or crunchy battered tempura, and rice in the form of steamed rice bowls and sushi dishes.'
This tradition, in fact, has been praised by the book 'Ikigai' and some other sources for being a healthier diet for us to consume. Hopefully, I would have the opportunity to share more on this topic with you all in a future article.
Without further divergence from the main topic, let's dive into this tremendous food-tasting journey together.
Upon arrival, I was immediately greeted and was served with their Umai Sushi Saturdays menu. As a part of the 7-course lunch set, I get to have a cocktail of my choice. Since it was a rather warm day and I preferred something rather tropical, I decided to go with the Natsu Medley.
Its ingredients are Diplomático Planas rum, Shiroku yuzu sake, apricot, lemon, and ginger beer served with collins glass and cubed ice. It is rather interesting to see how it begins with a quite subtle rum and apricot favor and concludes with a moderate yuzu note.
The first thing that I was being served was the white miso soup. Including other ingredients such as tofu, seaweed, and particularly mushroom; this miso soup has a strongly flora, and mushroom-like note than the other white miso soup I have usually.
The white miso soup is then followed by a small plate called Horenso Gomaae,
sesame spinach with cassava chips. It is overall quite crispy and fresh.
In general, I would say this dish serves quite nicely as a transition from the white miso soup to the following dish; since it absorbs the rich miso favor and restores your tastebuds to a rather neutral condition.
The following is the Hassun, which in Japanese means the second course and usually sets the seasonal theme.
From right to left are Nasu Miso Dengaku (fried aubergine with saikyo miso), Maguro Kimi Shoyu (chu toro sashimi served with egg soy sauce underneath), and Koebi Wasabi (tempura prawns with wasabi sauce.)
Although I believe there is not a specific sequence for how you should have the hassun, the way that I had it (from right to left) allows a slight increase of richness every time I tried something else.
I would say the Maguro Kimi Shoyu is my favorite out of all three. The feeling of having the chu toro sashimi sliding into your mouth through egg soy sauce is just dreamy.
What follows are four pieces of sushi. This includes Zuke Maguro Nigiri (marinated tuna), Amaebi Nigiri (sweet shrimp), Salmon Nigiri, and Suzuki Nigiri. All very fresh and well-made.
However, what I truly fond of was the main dish. Instead of the other options such as the Tori Sumiyaki (chargrilled miso chicken with sesame chilli miso), the Tempura Moriawase (prawn and vegetable tempura), the Sukiyaki with Yuzu Candy Floss (rib eye beef with vegetables, tofu and shiitake), and the Waygu Beef Sukiyaki with Candy Floss (japanese wagyu beef with tofu and shiitake); I decided to go with the classic Salmon Hobayaki (char-grilled salmon on hoba leaf with red miso teriyaki).
And I made the correct decision. The salmon was cooked to the perfect degree of doneness. Its well-balanced texture, in which it is rather soft but not too raw, made it truly enjoyable to taste.
Nevertheless, I think the Truffle and Kinko Gohan (truffle and wild mushroom pot rice) might have stolen the spotlight from the salmon. It is truly remarkable since I was able to pick up the smell of the rice while it was on the way to my table. By incorporating truffle oil within itself, the rice was able to enhance its creaminess. A real highlight I would say.
Not surprisingly, it is fairly easy to lose track of how many courses you have already had by this point. Nonetheless, I was excited to find out that I do not simply go straight to the dessert after the main course. The 7-course lunch set would surely be incomplete without maki sushi.
From the right to the left are Spicy Chirashi Maki (salmon, white fish and cucumber), Crunchy Kani Maki (snow crab, avocado), and Kyuri Shiso Maki (cucumber, takuan, shiitake.) Due to its complexity, I found the last one the most compelling among the three.
You cannot conclude a perfect meal without an intriguing dessert. After glancing at what are the options at the menu, I decided to go with the Bamboo. What it is basically is a mixture of seasme, kumquat, and white chocolate mousse. Very interesting combination, or could simply be referred as when the east meets the west.
What I like particularly about this dish is that you are given a rather heavy spoon so that you could break through the heavy layer of bamboo (white chocolate) and mix everything together. Quite a twist from the overall meal, but you cannot deny it is quite a playful design.
Did I mention the set comes with half a bottle of the Louis Roederer Premier NV Champagne as well? Although I am never a fan of pairing Champagne with asian dishes, this is in fact quite a nice ending to all the dishes I had for the Umai Sushi Saturdays.
More information about the restaurant:
Address: 23 St James's St, St. James's, London SW1A 1HA
Shoutout to readers in Indonesia as they also have a restaurant in Bali, and are opening a new one in Jakarta this year!
Do you wish to see more content on food-tasting in the future? Comment down below to let me know!