Upscale Japanese restaurant Sake No Hana, from Hakkasan Group, has launched a beautiful autumnal leaf installation outside its Mayfair restaurant and a limited edition menu to celebrate the Japanese tradition of going to visit scenic areas in Japan when leaves have turned red. What a beautiful tradition! The ‘Autumn Leaves’ Menu is on offer until the end of November and Adrienne Fung was there last weekend to try it out.
The tradition of momijigari has been part of Japanese culture for thousands of years. It’s a celebration of the changing autumn season through the leaves of the maple tree transitioning from green, red, orange to gold. Not only does every subtle detail of the “Autumn Leaves” dishes and drinks pay homage to it, but Sake No Hana also recreated the stunning scenes of Japan’s momijigari outside its restaurant, with an impressive display of leaves in vibrant autumnal hues.
Sake No Hana’s interiors – designed by esteemed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma – are equally stunning, with linear bamboo and cypress wood which gives the feel of a futuristic forest.
The seasonal menu consists of a gorgeous miso soup with wild mushrooms, followed by a sampling of four starters, one main course of your choice, a selection of sushi and a dessert. In addition, guests can choose to add a cocktail pairing for £23 for two, which I highly recommend.
Our first cocktail that accompanied the starters was the Shiso 54, a gorgeous drink made with Belvedere Vodka, Midori, lime, Shiso, Fever Tree Tonic, and a dash of Prosecco. This was the perfect start to the meal: not too sweet with just the right amount of tartness to wake up the palette.
The starters were served in an elegant arrangement and consisted of tuna tartare with egg yolk sauce; crispy truffle rice balls; shitake mushrooms filled with homemade tofu and wasabi sauce; and beetroot and sweet potato crisps with soba noodles.
Our favourites were the tuna sashimi and crispy truffle rice balls. The maguro tuna was extremely fresh and the sauce was perfectly balanced without being too salty to drown out the clean flavours from the fish. The crispy truffle rice balls had a nice sweet glaze on the outside that complimented the savoury truffle essence.
Following our starters, we were served our next cocktail flight, a golden orange cocktail made with Belvedere Vodka, cardamom, mandarin, and yuzu. A beautiful maple leaf made of edible rice paper was gently laid on top. The cardamom gave this cocktail a warm and spicy kick, the perfect drink for Autumn.
For our entrées, we had a choice of five dishes. We tried the Pan-fried Loch Duart Salmon with walnuts & Kyoto miso as well as the Chargrilled Miso Chicken with sesame chili paste. Both main dishes were delicious. You could really taste the robata cooking method seeping through the chicken, giving the dish a welcomed smoky aroma.
The salmon was also a pleasant surprise. I’m usually hesitant about ordering salmon as I find it can often be overcooked and underwhelming. This dish came highly recommended from our server and I’m glad I listened to her advice. The portion is very generous and the fish is cooked perfectly. The salmon was super fresh, not at all fishy, and most importantly, the flesh was still moist while the skin was nice and crisp. The highlight of the dish was the beautiful miso sauce. The sauce was well balanced and had a lovely sweetness that made this dish one I’d order again and again. The walnuts also added a nice touch of texture while complementing the nuttiness from the miso.
After we finished our mains, we were served the last of the savoury courses: a beautiful display of sushi including a Wagyu beef roll with asparagus, caramelised onion & Kizami wasabi, a spicy tuna & whitefish roll with avocado & cucumber, and inari tofu skin sushi filled with pickled mooli, shiso & kanpyo.
I’m usually skeptical of westernised renditions of sushi but the wagyu beef roll ended up being my favourite. It was certainly unique and one of the best bites we had all day. The caramelised onion worked unexpectedly well and the Wagyu beef just melted in your mouth.
We finished the meal with a gorgeous Hazelnut Feuilletine & Hazelnut Chocolate Parfait with chocolate and maple syrup soup and a mascarpone mousse. The dessert was not only delicious, but it was also beautifully presented.
Our last cocktail accompanying the dessert was their take on a Hot Toddy. The “Maple Toddy” is served warm in a sake vase and is made with Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Akashi-Tai umeshu, ginger, maple, and chocolate. By the sounds of it, I was expecting this cocktail to be sweeter than it was which would have clashed with the sweet dessert but it ended up being more spicy and boozy than sweet. You still get a strong taste of cocoa from the chocolate which nicely complimented the perfumy ginger flavour.
Sake No Hana’s “Autumn Leaves” menu was lovely from beginning to end. You could see that every detail was carefully thought over from presentation to the ingredients. At only £40, it was very good value to be able to try such a wide variety of dishes in a beautiful setting. Be sure to book before the end of month to give this seasonal menu a try.
Disclaimer: Adrienne was a guest of the restaurant. All opinions are her own.