Thursday, 11 April 2013

sake no hana

I first visited Sake no Hana a couple of years ago and had a wonderful dinner for a very good friend's birthday and so I've been dying for a revisit ever since I've moved into London. Sake no Hana is a modern Japanese restaurant run by the Hakkasan group, which has become synonymous (in London and soon the States) for impeccable Asian cuisine.

The experience begins as you walk through the doors and are greeted by the friendly staff who will lead you up the narrow escalators into the beautiful restaurant space. In a similar vein to other Hakkasan ventures, Sake no Hana is very polished and upmarket, but it is also striving to become more accessible to diners by providing various different set menus, such as the Tastes of Sake no Hana dinner meal or their newly introduced Weekend Brunch.

We started with the Beef Tataki, which is topped with a sesame dressing that complements without overpowering the delicate flavour of the meat. The texture of the ribeye is also presented in great light, tender and silky.

Next came the Zuwai Tempura, or Snow Crab Tempura, which was simply divine. The tempura batter was so light it was barely there, but gave a crunch to the sweet, tender and juicy crabs legs inside.

We also had some sushi, which were of a very high standard as you would expect. The fish was fresh and sweet (although I thought that the botan shrimp and scallop outshone the yellowtail and tuna) and the sushi rice is lightly pressed making for a very delicate nigiri.

We also had the Aburi Salmon Crab Maki and the Salmon Avocado Maki. Pictured here is the Aburi Salmon Crab Maki which I loved, as the taste and texture of both salmon and crab mayo is lifted by the highly contrasting slice of pear in the center of the roll.

From the previously mentioned Tastes of Sake no Hana dinner set comes this wonderful Beef Hobayaki (for a little supplement). Whilst the beef here does not seem to be quite as nice of a cut as the tataki, it was cooked in a teriyaki-like sauce and was full of flavour - perfect to go with a little rice!

Because we were so impressed by their tempura frying, we followed up with Yasai Tempura, which was a large mountain of various tempura vegetables. Of the various vegetables, I was most surprised to see zucchini flowers (lovely!) and most enjoyed the asparagus, which retained its firm texture distinct nutty taste where the other vegetables may become less distinct when deep fried.

I also had the Ribeye Beef Toban from the main menu, which means that the beef is cooked on a ceramic plate. I did not love this as much as I loved the Beef Hobayaki, which was more packed with flavour and had a more distinct texture.

The Tastes of Sake no Hana meal also comes with some sushi, which was a maki roll and inari sushi on my visit. As you can see, the maki roll was filled with various types of fish, as well as vegetables, which makes for a satisfying mouthful (although it looked a little bit messy). The inari sushi was also quite nice, as it was not just filled with plain sushi rice, but a rice mixed with some vegetables that added a crunch to the texture.

Finally, the Tastes of Sake no Hana meal rounded off with dessert, which was a honey and jasmine cake that night. This was a light mousse cake - which was great as we were already pretty stuffed! - and the relatively unconventional but well executed choice of using jasmine made for a winner.

Whilst Sake no Hana can be relatively pricey if ordering a la carte, I must say that the quality of their food lives up to the price! Admirably, the very affordable dinner set does not skimp on quality at all, and I highly recommend those looking to try Sake no Hana to go for the set and order maybe one or two dishes (and a few pieces of sushi) off the main menu to share as we did. I think that Sake no Hana really shines in its hot food (especially in their tempura and the Hobayaki) more so than in its sushi, which was slightly down in presentation and the texture of sushi rice on this particular visit, but is nonetheless very good quality across the board.

Having enjoyed the Tastes of Sake no Hana menu, I am tempted to return for their weekend brunch!

Food: 7/10
Environment: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Price: £ £ £ (if ordering set menu) or £ £ £ £ (if ordering a la carte) out of 5

You can find the Sake no Hana home page here.

Sake No Hana on Urbanspoon

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