Review on Sake No Hana
Alan Yau has emphatically stamped his mark on the London restaurant scene in recent years, having dreamt up Wagamama and set new standards with Hakkasan and Yauatcha. His latest venture sees him applying his imagination to the world of top-end Japanese cuisine. Sake no hana translates roughly as 'saké flower' and it's full of delightful surprises.
The setting is a 1960s concrete block in blue-blooded St James's: it was once a bank and has seen several high-profile restaurants come and go of late. Inside, it has been transformed into a fabulous space dominated by massive central escalators sheathed in shiny black. The first-floor dining room is defined by wooden and bamboo struts suggesting forests and Shinto arches; tall windows, clever lighting and tatami mats around tables add to the authenticity of it all. Customers are expected to remove shoes before venturing onto the main platform, but staff in dazzling 'ninja-inspired uniforms' are courteous to a fault.
Guidance may be required when negotiating the by-ways of the menu: dishes are arranged by cooking style, there are no indications of size, no conventional categories to provide signposts. That said, the results are sure to excite even the most jaded palate. Dishes worth singling out include 'goma dofu' (a slab of curd made from sesame), 'nasu iridashi' (braised aubergine topped with dried bonito flakes), grilled miso-coated Chilean sea bass under a huge houba leaf (accompanied by a steamed both including fish balls) and braised poulet noir in a black clay pot with vegetables and yuzu pepper.
The drinks list is equally intriguing: there are no wines on show (apart from headily priced Champagnes), but a saké sommelier is on hand to de-mystify on the array of elite rice-based tipples; alternatively, there are countless whiskies, shochus (Japanese vodkas), sexy cocktails and bottled beers if tea isn't sufficient.
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Restaurant Opening Times
Lunch: 12.00 - 3.00pm Mon-Fri (12.00 - 4.00pm Sat)
Dinner: 6.00 - 11.00 (11.30pm Fri & Sat)
Accepted credit cards
Visa, Master Card, American Express