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Tuesday 7 May 2019

Sake No Hana’s Koinobori Menu 2019 Reviewed

Name: Sake no Hana

Where: 23 St James Street, London SW1A 1HA, https://sakenohana.com/london/koinobori/

Cost: The Koinobori menu, available until 11 Mary 2019, costs £52 per person. 

About: Sake no Hana is celebrating Japan's Golden Week, with its Koinobori (carp streamers) menu. This reflects the carp-shaped flags flown at the end of Golden Week to celebrate Children's Day.  Carp are considered the most spirited fish, so full of energy and power they they can fight their way up streams and waterfalls, which is considered a fitting metaphor for a child's journey through life. The menu will be served only until 11 May 2019, so if you want to try it, do hurry along.

What We Ate: We kicked off with a Sansai Shiriu -a delicate white miso soup with three types of vegetables.

From the Urokozushi, temari and maki sushi menu, chirashi gunkan had salmon, seabass and ikura (salmon roe), crab and avocado, spicy tuna, inari sushi (served in tofu skins), and hamachi. These were delicately made, the rice was well cooked and seasoned, they were excellent.

For main course, there is a choice of one of three options per person, and we were sampled all of them. 

The Haru Yasai salmon had been marinated in miso, making it firm, buttery and flavoursome, served with asparagus, wild garlic sauce and yuzu. For my palate, it desperately needed some accompanying rice (which is not on the menu but happily we had ordered a portion).

The kisetsu yasai tempura (seasonal tempura), with the Chef's choice of vegetables, was beautifully done. Light, crisp and without a hint of greasiness, this was deceptively simple and delicious, reflecting the skills of the chef behind these tempting morcels of shiso leaf, pumpkin, broccoli and inoki mushroom, aubergine and asparagus.

The yakitori of corn fed chicken were barbecued skewers, and featured grilled miso-marinated chicken, served with a sticky shishito peppers (the Japanese equivalent of Padron peppers) and yuzu chilli sauce. These succulent pieces of juicy, caramelised chicken thigh were a delight. 

For dessert, a selection of classic Wagashi (Japanese confectionary) included dorayaki (a pancake of red bean jam), a raspberry and strawberry mochi topped with a pickled cherry blossom, mitarashi dango (glutinous rice balls glazed with lychee) and matcha roll cake (green tea cake roulade with vanilla Chantilly cream).  Each of these was delectable, but the highlight was the berry mochi with topped with a pickled cherry blossom.

What We Drank: The suggested cocktail pairing for this menu is a Koinobori Martini (£15), with Belvedere vodka, sakura tea cordial, lime and dinky "koi carp" made from painted rice paper.

We shared a bottle of an entry-level white wine, a Pinot Blanc, Granit de La Vallee, from Cave de Turkheim, Alsace, France (£38). This was aromatic, and though lacking in complexity, had attractive peachy flavours, fresh acidity and minerality. 

Likes: Highlights for me were the sushi selection, the tempura and the desserts. 

Dislikes: The menu needs more carbs, steamed rice should be offered with the mains.

Verdict: We love Sake no Hana, and their seasonal Koinobori menu is no exception. Available until 11th May 2019 (although many of the dishes are also on the a la carte menu) we highly recommend it.

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