Review of 'sake no hana'

It is, or was, my birthday yesterday. We celebrated by visiting one of the restaurants I have wanted to visit for some time as I heard so many good things about it…Though I did also hear it was quite expensive. When I was told about their £29 set menu (between 6 and 7pm daily) this was too good to pass up and my birthday to boot!

You can almost miss Sake No Hana (flower sake, if you will) in it's very upscale building on St. James' street just a street away from the Ritz. The understated black exterior continues to the inside as you go through an automatic door to a small landing at the bottom of two escalators leading in and out of the restaurant on the first floor. The (abundant) friendly staff greet you, take your jackets then escort you up the escalator through a narrow black tunnel into the main body of the restaurant which opens up around you with it's copious amounts of light wood everywhere making the interior remarkably light. We passed on the idea of sitting at the sushi counter as were visiting to enjoy the experience - and each others company.

The menu is not that long but filled with classical Japanese dishes…Making the reservation I had indicated that we were non-drinkers (well, myself but perhaps not so much my wife) so the set menu included a cocktail which was a delicious light concoction of spice and, oddly, cucumber. We both started with the miso soup with deep fried turnip dumplings - Again, very flavourful, light with the dumplings deliciously smooth. Not very large portions which was very much appreciated.

I had the mixed tempura next which had amazing prawn tempura (3-4) along with other vegetables cooked perfectly - All slightly al dente and tasty. The wasabi mayonnaise was perfectly balanced with a good amount of heat but yet not completely overwhelming the flavours. Because of the mayo it enveloped the tempura when dipped…Incredible. My wife had chicken that was served sitting on top of a leaf that itself was on top of a charcoal brasier that was delicately seasoned with fresh herbs. Good but nothing like the taste sensation of my dish…

The next course we each had a “crunchy” roll of sushi - My wife's was a vegetarian option and mine was salmon and tuna (two sets of four each - one set salmon, the other tuna). Both of mine were amazing though the spicy tuna was my favourite of all. The soy sauce served is very light - not as salty as is common in other Japanese restaurants. The crunchy part of the sushi was the pieces of a thin crunchy pastry (?) around the outside of the inside-out rolls. The best sushi I have ever had, amazing. We had to follow this up with two side orders of the “crunchy california maki” (£8) - small and light tasting (again), and “sake no hana maki” (£10) which included tempura prawns and smoked eel - thankfully the eel was not fishy and certainly did not overpower the dish. After all of this sushi I still have to say we liked the initial crunchy rolls the best…

Our dessert consisted of three small balls of ice cream served on a cold stone plate - Dark chocolate, white chocolate and green tea. The white chocolate was my favourite here - Very creamy and tasty (if you like white chocolate!).

Throughout the meal the staff were very attentive, helpful and welcoming. Despite the up-market nature of the restaurant they seemed very friendly throughout - We had a small but nice chat with what I took to be the maitre'd towards the end of our meal as he talked to us a bit about what we had eaten and what they do…

We will be back. Ok, it wasn't the cheapest (even with the special) but the service, food and decor is amazing. The best Japanese food I have ever had…even having been to Japan!

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2012-10-27

Cuisine: Japanese

Address: 23 St. James Street, London SW1A 1HA ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Green Park

Location: London (England) - Mayfair



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Telephone: +44 (0) 207 925 8988