Sake no Hana is one of my favourite restaurants to go to with friends. While sister-restaurant Hakkasan is all moody and atmospheric, Sake no Hana is full of light and space, and it's also right opposite the club so I can just run across the road from one to the other. The food is exceptional, and it's just a really cool place to go for food or even just for drinks. I first blogged about Sake no Hana in 2012 (see here), and also posted about attending a Sake Class there in 2013 (see here).
This weekend I went along with the girls to experience their new Umai Saturdays, a lunchtime experience which allows you to share a number of dishes at a more accessible price point than usual. For £37 you get five courses with two matching sakes, one of which is a favourite of mine, Mio, a gorgeous sparkling sake that tastes a little like sparkling fruit juice (aka, it's very drinkable).
The restaurant was absolutely packed, and we even bumped into the lovely Angie and Ashleigh! After a quick catch-up we parted ways and all took ours seats, and the fun began. We started with a lovely light White Miso Soup with wild mushrooms.
We then moved on to my favourite course of the whole lunch, thinly sliced sea bass sashimi with a chilli, citrusy dressing and topped with crispy fried leak, and succulent seared rib-eye beef with a sesame and wasabi sauce. Both of these dishes just made my tastebuds zing and tingle.
Then it was time for the sushi. I don't eat salmon so the girls shared my salmon sushi between them, but the Spicy Tuna Maki and Spicy Pepper Maki were delicious! The Tuna was a little too spicy for me, so three rolls was the perfect amount, but I could have easily eaten an entire plate of the Pepper Maki!
Finally we had our main courses. We ordered pawn tempura, the char-grilled salmon, and the Sukiyaki to share between us all. They all arrived and we all looked at each other with our mouths hanging, it looked sensational!
Because the Japanese love odd numbers, the prawn tempura came with three pieces...but there were four of us. This is the one thing I dislike about Japanese restaurants, they always bring things in threes, not even in fives, so it always means that someone misses out on trying something. I felt awful and really disrespectful, but asked for an extra prawn so we could all try one, and they very kindly brought us two more. It was definitely worth it, they were so meaty and light and just the perfect choice for a Saturday afternoon.
That's the great thing about this lunch, nothing is heavy, everything is so light and fresh that it doesn't fill you up to the point you feel sick. It fills you up to the point you think 'Oh, I'm full, but I've had just the right amount, I'm at the right feeling of full'.
I was assured by the girls that the salmon was excellent, however the real showstopper was the Sukiyaki, a dish of sliced rib eye beef served with vegetables, tofu, and mushrooms. The dish is served on a hotplate at the table and topped with a huge ball of candy floss, the waiter then pours a hot sauce over the candy floss and it all dissolves into the dish.
The lid is then put back on and you wait 5 minutes while it all cooks. Then - ta-da! It's beautifully cooked and ready to dish out and eat...
For dessert we had the Apple Tarte Tartin and the Sesame Pana Cotta. If there are two of you eating you get one dessert of your choice between you, if there are four of you you get two desserts - you can choose two of both or one of each like we did.
The Tarte Tatin was my favourite, it was quite sour but so moreish! The pana cotta had just a hint of sesame but it wasn't overpowering at all, a very refreshing option of you ate too much of the sushi earlier. The sorbet on top was probably my favourite part of the dessert, I just love sorbet!
We had such a lovely afternoon, and as it had been a while since we all caught up we spent the whole time in a world of our own giggling and chatting excitedly. I feel so bad for the people who were sitting around us! One of the loveliest lunches for a long time, and all of us left feeling very satisfied and happy. Thankfully as the club was just across the road, we hopped in my car and I dropped the girls home before heading home myself.
The rest of my evening was spent collapsed in front of the TV. A really delightful way to spend a Saturday. The girls and I can highly recommend Umai Saturdays, it's the perfect way for friends to gather and spend a few hours socializing and eating. You can reserve a table via Opentable, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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*Our meal was complimentary, however as always this does not influence my views in any way.