Japanese

Japanese-Restaurants

Cherry blossoms have to be one of my favourite things about springtime. As soon as they’re out, the streets and parks of London are in bloom with pretty pink and white flowers that always make me look up rather than down and around.

So when I learned about Sakura at Sake no Hana, I jumped at the chance to review its intriguing cherry-blossom infused menu and discover its glorious pop-up garden, both of which run until May 19th.

Sakura at Sake no Hana

As I approached one of the front doors, I could hear passersby comment on Sake no Hana’s beauty.

Sakura at Sake no HanaSakura means cherry blossom and Sake no Hana does not shy away from giving its customers an exceptional springtime dining experience.

Here, take a look …

Sakura at Sake no Hana

Sakura at Sake no Hana

Sakura at Sake no Hana

Sake no Hana

Isn’t it just beautiful?

As for the menu, it is no surprise that this was going to be another delectable experience from Sake no Hana which belongs to the Hakkasan group.

Lunch started off with a pot of tea made from the leaves of cherry blossom trees, before we moved swiftly onto cocktails (yes, cocktails at lunchtime – what a delight!). 

I had the Hanami Bellini Cocktail, which included sparkling sake, Luxardo cherry liqueur, Heering cherry liqueur, lime and Tanqueray gin. 

Sakura at Sake no Hana

This cocktail was quite a surprise. It wasn’t as sweet as I imagined it would be. In fact, it had a depth of flavour that made me want to savour each sip. It was gorgeous and I’m going to try and have one more before the pop-up ends.

Fellow blogger Mrs. O. Around The World who writes one of my favourite travel blogs opted for a Hakka. If you know Ana, you’ll not be surprised because the Hakka is one of Mrs. O’s favourite cocktails.

It includes: Belvedere vodka, Akashi-tai sake, lychee juice, lime, coconut and fresh passion fruit.

Sakura at Sake no HanaFor lunch, we started with a miso soup each …

Sake no Hana

… before moving onto the bento box which involved seven-spice chicken kuwayaki and spring salad with sesame dressing for the initial layer.

Sakura at Sake no Hana

And then we moved onto the sushi layer which included salmon avocado, spicy tuna and California rolls, and chu-toro and salmon sashimi.

Sakura at Sake no Hana

I loved everything in the bento box, which may not look like much but it was actually very filling. Apparently in Japan, the sushi is eaten last to avoid prematurely filling up with the rice.

After the delicious bento box and its fresh and tasty ingredients, we moved onto dessert. These were the vanilla macarons with cherry blossom tea ganache.

Sakura at Sake no HanaAnd this was the Sakura Palet D’Or: cherry-chocolate dessert with fresh cherries, nashi pear, almonds and ginger, and cherry blossom tea ice-cream made from the leaves of cherry blossom trees, which I demolished single-handedly after trying one of the macarons … 

Sakura at Sake no Hana… and which I washed down with a Sakura Ice Tea: marasca cherries, jasmine tea and lime. Very refreshing!

Sakura at Sake no HanaIt was so lovely to catch up with Ana in such a pretty space and with such delicious treats.

If you’re in the area and are looking for something different yet reliably yummy to try, I would recommend dropping into this gorgeous pop-up. And even better, if you are in the area on Saturday 26th April at midday, why not step inside to watch the “Kagami Biraki”, a time-honoured Japanese ceremony which entails the lid of a sake barrel being dramatically broken open by a wooden mallet before the sake is served in traditional cups. This will be accompanied by Japanese Taiko drummers with their captivating, high-energy, carnival-like performance. Should be fun!

Sake no Hana, 23 St. James’s Street, London, SW1A 1HA.

Disclosure: We were guests of Sake no Hana but this isn’t a biased post. I left feeling like I had a veritable feast for the palate and eyes.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited The Magazine restaurant for lunch. I’d heard the buzz about its architecture when it opened at the end of last year but it wasn’t until I was in a taxi driving past Kensington Gardens one night that I decided …

The Magazine

… I wanted to step inside. And I wasn’t disappointed by Zaha Hadid’s design.

The Magazine - Kensington Gardens

Looking around the restaurant, I noted quite a sophisticated clientele who made me feel I was more on mainland Europe than in a London park. But I imagined at night, this crowd would be different when The Magazine becomes an event space and the djs come out to play.

As for the food, the Japanese influence of German chef Oliver Lange’s training added to the sense of another world.

For my starter, I had The Magazine Sushi which included dragon roll and unagi; spicy hamachi and crispy ginger; quail egg and truffle; volcano roll and teriyaki sauce; and smoked trout with oven baked tomato …

The Magazine … whilst the OH chose a duck egg starter, which was really good but it doesn’t seem to be on the menu anymore.

The MagazineFor main, I had the donburi, pork belly and one hour duck egg …

The Magazine… whilst the OH had the black angus fillet, sweet potato and yakiniku sauce.

The MagazineI enjoyed the sense of adventure that came with the food. It matched the futuristic design of the restaurant. And I guess that’s what I loved the most about my experience here: the space.

Since I was a kid, I’ve loved The Serpentine. I even remember the first time I visited the gallery when I was at school. So it only makes sense that The Serpentine’s latest addition to its family would be something more grown up and even more exciting. As for the restaurant, I’m a sucker for interesting spaces.

The Magazine, Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA

You may have read my lunch review on Sake no Hana earlier this year. The bar and restaurant are part of the Hakkasan group and somewhere you have to visit if you love Japanese food as much as I do.

To add to the delectable experience and if you visit Sake no Hana before 25th January 2014, you will also get to see artwork by Daniele Davitti.

Daniele Davitti at Sake no Hana

Daniele Davitti’s exhibiton at the Sake no Hana bar on St. James Street is the venue’s second art installation as part of A Space For Art, which seeks out remarkable spaces in London and Berlin to place the right art on the right wall.

Inspired by Japan, Davitti’s work has focused on traditional Japanese themes such as the art of ink, kimonos and Japanese style and imagery. Davitti’s portfolio includes global collaborations with Vanity Fair, the Moretti Gallery (London), La Pergola Theatre (Florence) and Arte Fiera International Fair of Contemporary Art (Bologna). And in 2011 Davitti was appointed Professor of Graphic Design and the Aesthetic of Fashion at the Polimoda, becoming one of the youngest professors in Italy.

This is one to check out!

Last week I had a catch up meeting at Sake no Hana, a Japanese restaurant that is part of the Hakkasan Group and located on St. James’s Street.

Sake No HanaAs soon as I laid my eyes on the menu, I knew there was going to be some difficulty ordering. In one respect, I wanted to taste classic Japanese dishes just to see how well Sake no Hana could make them. Then again the specials looked so good, it would be a pity to miss out on them too. Thank goodness my lovely host and I were on the same page as we decided to share platters, so I could taste more of the menu.

Sake No HanaIn the end, we ordered Lobster Tempura. And do I really need to say much about this dish? It was as good as it sounds – actually, probably even better. I could have this everyday.

Sake No HanaFigs with aubergine, which were both light and very tasty; an ideal way of allowing summer to tingle the tastebuds.

Sake No HanaA wonderful sea bass dish …

Sake No HanaDuck with truffles …

Sake No HanaAn asparagus dish …

Sake No HanaAnd soft shell crab sushi, topped with mango slices.

Sake No Hana

Everything lived up to my expectations, which were set high thanks to my first impression when walking through the restaurant’s doors and standing on the escalators as I made my way up to the floor above and was greeted by friendly staff. The restaurant interior’s attention to detail is very much reflected in the dishes’ ingredients and method of cooking. And if you are looking for a Japanese restaurant that oozes both style and taste in Mayfair then I would head down to Sake no Hana if I were you. I’m sure you’ll have a delectable time too.

Sake no Hana, 23 St James’s St, London, Greater London SW1A 1HA

Earlier today, I met up with a fellow blogger for lunch in South Kensington.

Tombo South KensingtonI’d seen her tweet about Tombo and more specifically the chicken katsu they serve and I knew I had to try it out.

Chicken Katsu CurryThe result? I wasn’t disappointed at all. The ingredients were fresh and the chicken was cooked well, quite succulent and not over-cooked (which can be an issue with some Japanese fast-food). The staff were also friendly and the interior was light and felt spacious, even though the dining area isn’t so big. I also spotted quite a few Japanese customers popping in, which for me is always a big plus.

All in all, I am glad I have finally tried this place after passing by so many times. And I am definitely returning.

Tombo, 29 Thurloe Place, South Kensington, London SW7 2HQ

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