Last April, when Jon and I visited Sake No Hana, it was still basking in the glow of post-opening hype. Even if I hadn’t blogged about it, I’d remember that the food was good, but not good enough to justify those prices.
Two weeks ago, Jon saw on TopTable that Sake No Hana was having a 50% off promotion, and you know, at half off, we thought Sake No Hana was worth a re-visit.
Things got off to a bumpy start when Sake No Hana couldn’t find our booking. They found us a table, but then we were uncertain whether we’d still get the 50%-off deal. Jon, being That Guy, was prepared to walk if the resto didn’t give us the discount. So, we asked our server if we’d be getting the discount, and there was much consulting among the various people who visited our table afterwards to confirm that, in fact, we would like the discount.
In the end, we got the nod. Feeling slightly awkward about the whole thing (there had to have been a graceful way of claiming the discount, no?), we tried to put it behind us, and we ordered with gusto.
I’m normally a fan of seaweed salads at Japenese restos. I love the slight crunch of the seaweed, along with the nutty sweetness of rice vinegar and sesame oil. It’s also, usually, a pretty cheap dish.
Although I wondered why Sake No Hana’s version was priced at £12.50, I figured at half off, I’d give it a try.
Well, the salad was super colorful and chock full of mushrooms. But the dressing was too acidic and citrusy – everything just tasted sour. The mushrooms lacked flavor, which meant they were just glorified sponges, soaking up more of that over-citrused dressing. The salad didn’t even have varied textures to save it. Too bad. Even £6.25 was too much to pay.
Sesame aubergine (£5.50) was much hyped a year ago, so Jon and I tried it out. It wasn’t bad, but the sauce was too sweet and thick. I would’ve preferred if the aubergine’s natural sweetness had been allowed to shine, instead of its (almost) drowning in sauce.
Because I had a craving, I ordered the spider roll (pictured at the top of this post). £10.80 gets you an elaborate, pretty-looking roll, but I couldn’t taste the soft shell crab. When it comes to sushi, simple is best. I feel sad when good seafood is overwhelmed by fussiness.
Despite not being a vegetarian, I love tofu. Especially if it’s deep fried. So the tosa tofu, crusted in bonito flakes and deep fried was a must. Crispy and hot on the outside; creamy and soft on the inside. I liked it, and though it normally costs £7, for £3.50, it was a steal.
Last time we ate at Sake No Hana, we got talked out of the pork ribs and steered towards some un-tasty crab. Not a mistake we’d repeat this time! Even at the regular price of £22, you get a lot of pork for your money. The enormous pork ribs were served in a cast-iron pot, almost French style. Jon and I loved its homey fattiness. It’s really the last dish we’d expect at a Japanese restaurant, but the braising liquid was beautifully clear and light, as if it’d been strained clean. All that was left was a sweet-salty-sour goodness.
Last April, we paid £125 with wine. This time, with 50% off the food bill, we paid £71, including wine. Even with the discount, Sake No Hana was no bargain, but I’d say £71 was a fair price for the food, chic decor and attentive, efficient service.
For my sushi fix, though, I’ll stick with cheap-and-cheerful Tomoe.
Sake No Hana, 23 St James’s St, SW1A 1HA, 020 7925 8988. Closest tube station: Green Park