One would surely have to be the most miserable of persons not to feel a sprinkle of joy at the sight of cherry blossom adorning branches throughout the country.
The delicate pink petals are proof positive that the long winter is over and sunshine is on its way. Truly, it’s a sight that makes me more than a little bit happy.
So I greeted the news that Sake No Hana was celebrating the arrival of spring with a pop-up Japanese Cherry Blossom Secret Garden with something of a squeal.
“Sakura at Sake no Hana” has taken over the bar at the Japanese restaurant (part of the acclaimed Hakkasan Group), on St. James’s Street, until May 19th.
And there is plenty of cherry blossom to keep lasses like me happy. The blooms envelope everywhere from the bar and floor to the ceiling, entwining above and around you while you enjoy limited-edition cherry blossom sake cocktails, bento boxes and desserts.
Yup that’s right. LIMITED EDITION CHERRY BLOSSOM SAKE COCKTAILS.
Now, when it comes to Japanese food, I’m not the biggest of fans. The fish does, I confess, frighten me a little. But, my goodness, Cherry Blossom Sake Cocktails are honestly one of life’s little known treasures.
My Hanami Bellini Cocktail (sparkling sake, Luxardo cherry liqueur, Heering cherry liqueur, lime, Tanqueray gin) was completely moreish (and pretty potent too.)
And the Sakuratini Cocktail (Maraschino cherry liqueur; sake, vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, lime, orange bitters) was just as lush. Both had price tags of £10, but they were, ahem, generous glasses.
Myself and my friend Claudia stuck with these cocktails, rather than the teas on offer as we tucked into the food on the limited edition menu. A Sakura Crystal Double-Layer Bento Box – served with a miso soup starter, was seemingly limitless. The first layer of the box contained seven-spice chicken kuwayaki and spring salad with sesame dressing, while the second sushi layer was made up of salmon avocado, spicy tuna and California rolls, and chu-toro and salmon sashimi. There was a lot of food there for the £28 each it cost. Neither of us managed to finish it.
But there’s always room for dessert, right? And our cocktails really complimented the puddings. The Sakura Palet D’or (cherry-chocolate dessert with fresh cherries, nashi pear, almonds and ginger, and cherry blossom tea ice-cream made from the leaves of cherry blossom trees) for £8 was a showstopper. And the cherry blossom macarons? (£1.60 each, 5 for £7) Well, I think I will struggle to find a prettier (and tastier) macaron anywhere.
Sakura at Sake no Hana is something a little bit special. But just like the cherry blossoms outside, it’s a fleeting treat. Best get yourself over there sooner rather than later…
Fancy a visit? Go to sakenohana.com/london/ for more information.