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Sakura blossom

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:

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: