Browsing Tag

Sakura blossom

London, Restaurants

Sakura Garden at Sake no Hana, London

Last year, I visited Sake no Hana for the first time to discover its special Sakura menu, so I was delighted that it has returned for another spring.

To celebrate the season of cherry blossom, Sake no Hana has transformed its ground floor bar into a stunning cherry blossom garden with boughs of tiny white flowers and a tumbling blossom projection on the walls.

Sake No Hana London

It’s an ancient, much-loved tradition in Japan to feast and drink sake under the blooming sakura trees either during the day or at night when the boughs are lit with twinkling lights.  It’s my dream to stroll through the sakura parks of Tokyo and Kyoto, but until then, it was a pleasure to indulgence in the heart of Mayfair.

Inspired by this visual and sensory experience, Head Chef Hideki Hiwatashi has created a fabulous Sakura menu, bringing the art of Japanese hanami to London.  It has a similar ‘urban picnic’ concept as last year’s offering but with exciting new dishes and bites.

Sake No Hana Sakura

Our Sakura experience started with a dreamy Kaori Arpège cocktail – Beefeater 24 Gin, yuzu sake, cherry liqueur, peach bitters, grapefruit juice and agave.  The refreshing, citrusy cocktail was accompanied by three perfume atomisers – red cherry, black cherry and cinnamon, elderflower and jasmine and violet – to fragrance the air and enhance notes in the cocktail.

Sake No Hana Sakura cocktail

We started with the delicious Shiro Misoshiru Uguisu Tofu – steaming hot miso soup filled with spring onion, wakame seaweed and a fluffy flower-shaped piece of tofu made from edamame peas.  Its spongy texture and slightly sweet flavour made it an interesting addition to the usual classic miso soup.

Sake No Hana Shiro Misoshiru Uguisu Tofu

This was followed with a beautifully-presented Sushi and Sashimi Box – it was almost too pretty to devour. Thick slices of hamachi, akami and salmon sashimi simply melted in the mouth and were served chilled over ice in a bamboo box.

Sake No Hana Sakura

Just as delicious was the trio of nigiri – medium-fatty chu toro caviar, silky salmon kizami wasabi and fresh ama ebi nigiri.  Okura shiso maki was very unique – the okra maki was tender yet crunchy and finished with purple-hued dried sweet plum.  Another tasty bite was the Suzuki Sasazushi – flavoursome seabass sushi wrapped in a bamboo leaf to give it an aromatic taste.

Sake No Hana Sakura

The new Sakura menu also includes a choice of three tempting main courses.  Chicken Sumiyaki with spicy shichimi sauce was a generous amount of succulent, lightly caramelised pieces of grilled chicken thigh with crispy skin.  The shichimi sauce had a deep honey-soy flavour and I found it milder than I’d expected.

Sake No Hana Sakura

Salmon Miso Yaki with egg mustard sauce was meaty and satisfying with a punchy, slightly creamy dipping sauce.  Both dishes were accompanied by a leaf salad lightly dressed with refreshing yuzu and crunchy fried lotus chips.

Sake No Hana Sakura salmon

Dessert is not to be missed, especially if you love macarons!  Cherry Chocolate Sake Mousse not only looked exquisite but it tasted divine.  The dessert plate featured an intense, bitter-sweet cherry chocolate mousse and a cherry sake mousse with a softer creamy vanilla flavour.  It was made even prettier with yummy chocolate crumble and little cubes of sake jelly.

Sake No Hana Cherry Chocolate Sake Mousse

We finished the meal with the most amazing Cherry Blossom Macarons and a pot of jasmine tea.  The freshly-baked vanilla macarons were delicately hand-painted and filled with plenty of velvety cherry blossom tea ganache.

Sake No Hana cherry blossom macarons

It was such a delight to enjoy this beautiful feast under the cherry blossom and I love how chilled out the bar is, even when the restaurant upstairs is busy.  Go quickly, before the blossom disappears for another year.

The Sakura Menu at Sake no Hana is priced at £34 per person and is available until 18th June.  For more information and booking, visit: www.sakenohana.com

Chérie City was a guest of Sake no Hana

Photos by Chérie City (interior image by Sake no Hana)

 

Bars, London, Restaurants

Sakura at Sake No Hana, London

One of my favourite things about the arrival of Spring is the dreamy cherry blossom that makes the city look even prettier.  It may be a fleeting joy, but cherry blossom lasts that little bit longer in Mayfair at Sakura at Sake No Hana.

The ground floor bar area of Hakkasan Group’s Sake No Hana has been transformed into a stunning cherry blossom garden, celebrating the ancient Japanese custom of Hanami.

It’s a unique sensory experience with beautiful flowers by Veevers Carter, heady aromas of Floris Cherry Blossom and a special Spring-inspired set menu.

We began our Sakura Gozen with a delightful Violet Risshun Cocktail, served in two parts on its own wooden tray.  Our attentive waiter poured us two glasses of the first cocktail from the carafe into a violet-scented mini coupe as an aperitif.

It had a refreshing, punchy citrus flavours and was made with a blend of Jinzu Gin, green Chartreuse, grapefruit juice, shiso and Burlesque Bitters.

The dark pink cocktail in a petite jug was then mixed in the carafe, creating a sweeter, more fragrant drink.  It was a gorgeous, easy-to-drink mix of Belsazar rose vermouth, maraschino cherry, cranberry and lemon juice.  I loved the ceremony of the two-part cocktail and that it was created to represent the early beginning of Spring and then the season in full bloom.

We started with a steaming hot bowl of tasty, comforting White Miso Soup with crispy tofu, seaweed, spring onions and a hint of garlic.

This was followed by the most delicious Sesame Spinach, with chilled spinach ribbons doused in a moreish, creamy dressing with plenty of crushed peanuts and topped with paper-thin cassava chips.

The main event was the Sakura crystal bento box filled with colourful, bite-size treats.  My favourite pieces of sushi were the flavoursome maki including spicy tuna with thinly-sliced lemongrass and cucumber, sweet and creamy salmon avocado and an indulgent California roll.

The trio of tuna nigiri – o-toro, chu-toro and akami – ranged from lean to fatty and the difference in taste and texture was noticeable.  A traditional bamboo box was also filled with three pieces of sashimi – kuro-kanpachi, sea bream and salmon.  The sea bream particularly appealed to me, as it had a silky texture and a clean, subtle flavour.

The bento box was finished with pretty decorations such as flower-shaped carrots, wedges of lime and a physalis.  I’m still navigating my way through the sushi world (graduating from tempura crab and tofu to the raw fish kind), but I’m pretty certain that Sake No Hana’s ultra-fresh, melt-in-the-mouth sushi is some of the best you can hope to find in London.

Dessert is an additional extra, but it would be madness not to try the beautifully-presented Cotton Cheesecake.  This bubbly, light-as-air baked cheesecake was simply delightful with fresh cherries, vanilla-scented cream cheese and cherry sorbet.  The texture was a cross between cake and mousse and it reminded me a little of the light chiffon cake I’ve tried a few times in Asia.

A perfect end to the Sakura meal was a plate of Cherry Blossom macarons, whimsically painted with a floral pattern.  The delicate vanilla macarons were filled with a thick layer of velvety chocolate cherry blossom tea ganache and were ever so fresh and rather substantial.  They can be washed down with a pot a Sakura tea, made from the leaves of cherry blossom trees.

Sakura at Sake No Hana is a must if you’re a fan of cherry blossom and all things fragrant and miniature.  It’s the closest thing to having a picnic in a Tokyo cherry blossom park and perfect for a romantic date night.

Sakura Gozen at Sake No Hana is priced at £32 per person and is available until 20th June.  Guests are encouraged to take photographs of blossom and Spring flowers and upload them to Instagram using the hashtag #sakura2015 to be in with a chance of receiving Sakura gifts.  For more information and booking, visit: www.sakenohana.com

Chérie City was a guest of Sake No Hana

All photos by Chérie City

Sake No Hana on Urbanspoon

Afternoon tea, London, Patisserie

Pierre Hermé Paris – Les Jardins Macarons 2013

A few weeks ago,  I had the pleasure of meeting the legendary Pierre Hermé, as he visited London to present an exciting preview of his new Les Jardins collection for 2013.

Les Jardins is a collection of 12 limited edition macarons inspired by the sensory delights of a garden – flowers, fruits, spices and herbs.  Pierre Hermé also explores fragrances blended by master perfumers and incorporates them in his macarons.

Every month of the year, a new macaron will be unveiled at Pierre Hermé stores and at the end of the year, all of the flavours will be available to purchase individually or in one pretty presentation box.

The macarons were beautifully presented under glass domes in a lush mini garden of roses, freeze-dried moss and twigs.  The colourful display looked good enough to eat, however, we were brought our very own plate of 12 macarons and every flavour of the new chocolate collection, Les Galets.  Pierre Hermé sat with us to answer questions and chat about the new flavours – I was impressed to see him casually enjoying his own macarons.

Les Jardins 2013 has flavours to suit all tastes – subtly floral, rich and seductive, intensely complex and refreshingly zingy.  A good introduction to Pierre Hermé’s creations is the mellow and fragrant Jardin Sucré (February) – Caramel and Rose.  Another dreamy macaron is the Jardin Japonais (April) – Morello Cherry, Lemon & Tonka Bean – which captures the taste of an imaginary Sakura blossom fresh from Japan.

Chocolate macarons are made more exciting with the smoky Jardin dans les Nuages (October) – Chocolate and Smoked Salt and the warm, earthy Jardin du Maquis (March) – Chocolate and honey from the Maquis Shrubland Region of Corsica.

As a perfume enthusiast, I was intrigued by the Jardin d’Ambre (May) – Rose & Ambregris, which also happens to be released for my birthday month.  Pierre Hermé told me that because ambregris is waxy and inedible, he had to work closely with master perfumer Jean-Michel Duriez to adapt the essence of ambregris for a macaron, and with spectacular results.

I loved the idea of starting the New Year with an explosion of zest and spice in the stunning Jardin Pamplemousse (January) – grapefruit, clove, nutmeg and candied grapefruit.

It’s hard to pick a favourite, which Pierre attested to himself, but the macaron that I enjoyed the most was Jardin Andalou – Mandarin Orange Olive Oil & Red Berries.  Paying tribute to the sunkissed climate of southern Spain, Jardin Andalou bursts with luscious fruit and is filled with both smooth cream and a red berry pâte de fruit.  Pierre Hermé told me that the olive oil and mandarin are fused together to create a more intense flavour.

The Valentine’s Day flavour is the very special Macaron Yasamine – Jasmine Tea Cream, Mango Compote, Candied Grapefruit.  Pierre created this macaron personally for his wife, handbag designer Barbara Rihl, however the macaron was such a favourite that they decided to share it with us.  I didn’t manage to try this romantic macaron, however, I like that the flavours are not typically what you might associate with Valentine’s Day – Pierre Hermé continues to surprise us!

Another new arrival for 2013 is a new collection of chocolate, Les Galets.  The elegant, glossy wafer-thin discs come in Pierre Hermé’s much-loved flavours including Mogador, Pietra, Azur, Chloé and Infiniment Citron.  Les Galets would make a fabulous gift and are a lighter version of his Chocolate Bonbons.  I particularly enjoyed the Galet Chloé, made with rich, bittersweet dark chocolate and intense raspberry.

Pastry and perfume fans are in for a real treat with Pierre Hermé’s new book written with master perfumer and friend Jean-Michel Duriez.  The beautifully-illustrated book features recipes based on the blends of classic perfumes and discusses the similarities in approach for patissiers and perfumers.

Pierre Hermé fans will no doubt be delighted with this intriguing garden inspired collection.  If you are yet to experience the magic of Pierre Hermé, treat yourself to a new flavour each month…you might just get hooked.

For more information, visit: www.pierreherme.com