Every time I’d go to London with my grandmother, (yeah, I know we used to have a habit for that) we would stay at this very exclusive, little posh hotel in Mayfair. The first thing I would always see on my way out to the high street was “Sake No Hana“; a Japanese fine dining concept by the Michelin Star and award-winning Hakkasan Group. When I used to look at the menu from the window, I would almost faint at how beautiful (and pricey) it was.
This year, I decided to stop dreaming and start doing. I asked my very generous grandma to take me to dinner at Sake No Hana. It was worth every bit of the financial abuse I inflicted upon her!
Luckily for us Sake No Hana was celebrating the special Koinobori menu; a menu developed by the restaurant that is themed around the magical Japanese Koi fish. The word ‘Koinobori’ actually refers to Koi windsocks, which are hung to flutter in the wind during the Tango No Sekku holiday in Japan. Japanese people don’t really eat the Koi fish, as it is considered a sacred creature and a valuable omen of good luck. However, the Koinobori menu was simply celebrating the magnificence of this fish in all its colors, patterns and glory.
The full Koinobori menu was reasonably priced at 52 British Sterlings per person and had a matching cocktail to go with it for £15. “No worries Mido, Grandma is paying!”, was my mantra for the night.
As soon as the cocktail arrived, the price was immediately and completely justified. There were three Koi fish floating head-to-tail in a circular swimming motion in my Martini. The Koi were hand-painted on rice paper and then cut out, before they were delicately placed on the foam of my drink. Damn! Now that’s how you make an appetite go!
First, there was soup. The Sansai Shiru contained a lot of exotic textures from the Japanese mountain vegetables; the broth was rich and loaded with a savory flavor.
For the sushi option, I chose the Temari & Maki selection. This work of art really set the standard for what was to come. Temari Zushi are smaller than nigiri and more round in shape, they also usually have the protein or main ingredient wrap around the rice to fully cover it. Every piece had its own character and unique identity. I couldn’t help but think of the time and effort that was spent to produce these mini masterpieces.
When it came to choosing my main dish, I was really torn between all three options. In the end I just opted for the Haru Yasai Miso Salmon, which came with asparagus and a wild garlic sauce. The fish-scale nori paper was everything for the presentation of this dish. Again, the elegance and intricacy just blew me away. The cook on the salmon was perfection and the flavor of the sauce was refreshingly different from anything I had tasted before. Big applause.
The dessert selection was a real show-stopper. I always get super excited over Japanese sweets (known in Japan as Wagashi). There’s just so many of them and it’s not easy to find them all in one place, but Sake No Hana’s chefs begged to differ. The dessert platter had all of my favorite Japanese sweet delicacies lined up in bite-sized beauty. I could just see how small they were and identify each and every one of them. This gave me the chance to savor just one or two bites of every awesome Japanese dessert out there. Sake No Hana; you left nothing to desire with this seven-star dining experience. I will be back for much more, no matter how deep of a hole it drills in my pocket… Or my Grandma’s pocket in this case 😉