Sake no Hana
23 St James’ St, London, SW1A 1HA, 0207 925 8988
Walking in under the cherry blossom archway, you’ll notice that visiting Sake no Hana for the next few weeks will be a real treat. They’re celebrating Sakura, the annual cherry blossom season in Japan by creating a spectacular secret garden right in the restaurant. Each cherry tree is in blossom season for only a short time, and it’s custom to indulge in parties under the bountiful trees, eating sushi and drinking traditional sake – and now for the next few weeks, Sake no Hana has brought Sakura to Mayfair.
As you enter, a heavily scented archway of intertwined blossom and mosses stretch oner you, inviting you in. Once inside, you’re surrounded by cherry blossom branches stretching from either side of the bar, winding their way up the walls. Tendrils weighted low with blooms entwine above and dangle lazily into the space, creating a unique atmosphere and really capturing the essence of this magical time. An especially nice touch was the perfume from the blossoms themselves, Eau de Parfum Cherry Blossom by local Mayfair and world renowned perfumer Floris.
We enjoyed a selection of delicious cocktails and sushi from the limited-edition seasonal menu, which included the Violet Rissin – Rissin represents the start of spring in the Japanese calendar – which consisted of a carafe and jug, each containing a different part of the cocktail. You’re presented with both, and encouraged to drink from the carafe initially. It contains Jinzu Gin, green chartreuse, grapefruit and lemon juice, shiso syrup and Burlesque bitters, and was predictably refreshing and zingy considering the fresh citrus notes. The jug was made up of Belsazar rose vermouth, maraschino cherry, cranberry and lemon juice, and after two (violet spritzed) glasses of the carafe, you’re encouraged to mix with the jug to create your second delicious cocktail.
For the food, friendly waitresses presented a selection of the Sakura Gozen Bento box, including sashimi (kuro-kanpachi, salmon, sea bream); nigiri (o-toro, chu-toro and akami) and maki – spicy tuna , salmon avocado and crunchy California. Once everyone had their fill, delicious and delicate Cherry Blossom macarons, vanilla flavour with cherry blossom tea ganache, were presented, each bearing a beautifully painted blossom illustration on the top.
The highlight – aside from the stunning surroundings, elegant cocktails and mouthwatering food of course – was the traditional breaking of the Sake barrel. After an introduction from the talented native musicians, a ceremonial wooden hammer was taken to the lid of the barrel and it was broken open, with everyone present enjoying the delicious rice wine inside.
The celebration is running until the 20th June, and well worth visiting for the absolutely beautiful job they have made in turning the striking interior – designed by esteemed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma – into a blossom garden only, but I have to say the food and cocktails were superb. Throughout the campaign guests will be encouraged to Instagram images of blossom and Spring flowers, with the best images winning Sakura gifts.
A very elegant and romantic way to spend an afternoon indeed.