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RESTAURANT REVIEW: SAKE NO HANA, ST JAMES’S

In true Japanese fashion, Sake No Hana on St James’s Street is celebrating the arrival of spring with a cherry blossom-decked interior and sparkling night lights…

Words: Madeleine Howell

The Japanese traditionally celebrate the season of sakura (blossom) with hanami, or ‘flower viewing’ – known as yozakura as night falls. While the convention itself is ancient, Sake No Hana is a very modern, sophisticated place to honour it, with striking architecture, a light-filled restaurant and James Bond-like escalators.

A tunnel of bamboo and blossom leads entranced diners up to the restaurant

A tunnel of bamboo and blossom leads entranced diners up to the restaurant

Our special sakura apéritif was refreshing whilst also being devastatingly alcoholic – not too sweet, and composed of Beefeater gin, fruity yuzu sake, cherry liqueur, agave and bitter citrus juice. My friend Iona was particularly entranced by the accompanying atomisers, which you are supposed to spray lightly onto the surface of the cocktail – with a choice of black cherry and cinnamon, elderflower and jasmine or violet, it’s tempting to try all three.

We loved the addition of a cherry and cinnamon atomizer to the sake cocktail

We loved the addition of a cherry and cinnamon atomizer to the sake cocktail

The limited edition menu is creative and original, mostly served in fish tank-esque clear boxes. The white miso soup, complete with prettily shaped tofu, tastes like a bowl of restorative health and goodness. It’s followed by a bento box full of sushi, salmon sashimi and hamachi, also known as yellowtail or Japanese amberjack. 

The miso soup is refreshing and delicious

The miso soup is refreshing and delicious

For the main event, there’s a choice of salmon miso yaki with egg mustard sauce, chicken with a spicy shichimi source, or the vegetarian yasai katsu. I opted for the chicken, which was extremely tender and again, felt incredibly healthsome.

The final wonder of the menu is the dessert. There’s a choice between a cherry chocolate sake mousse or cherry blossom macaroons – both heavenly but very, very rich and best washed down with a refreshing green tea.

Even the macaroons are decorated with cherry blossom

Even the macaroons are decorated with cherry blossom

Iona and I left light-headed and with a distinct spring in our step – the combination of strong sake, light sushi, rich chocolate and a stunning display is sustenance indeed. Depending on your chopstick proficiency, we would recommend Sake No Hana for a romantic rendezvous, or as an absorbing setting in which to catch up with an old friend.

Sake no Hana, 23 St James’s Street SWA 1HA; 0207 925 8988; sakenohana.com

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