Full disclosure: before writing this post, I asked my girlfriends if there was any point in reporting on a restaurant that I wouldn’t return to for food. They said yes – so here we are, my review of Sake No Hana. Now, before you click away from this post or write off this Mayfair sibling of Hakkasan, it’s worth reading this update. There’s something intriguing about an established restaurant that’s been around for so long despite poor reviews from the critics.
For context, for those of you that didn’t grow up in London, there is such a thing as the ‘West End’ scene. While I maintain a neutral outlook on this, let’s just say it’s pretty exhibitionist, expensive and often attracts the vapid. Like me back when I was at uni and spent all my money at designer sample sales. This lifestyle brings back fond memories of nights out resulting in grazed legs, as well as an extensive knowledge of the bars and restaurants in the WC area. Sake No Hana is the epitome of this hedonistic scenario. It’s the place you go for the meal before the club, where girls don’t actually use the loo for anything other than makeup touch-ups and selfies by the statement bamboo wall.
However, the beauty of this plush venue cannot go unrecognised. High ceilings with wooden Japanese-esque beams boast a work of art in itself. The selection of bottles on offer was a brief giddy moment for me, as someone who loves wine but loves shochu and sake even more. However, with newer and cheaper eateries like Shackfuyu with a similar list, this didn’t impress for long.
To keep this review simple: I would return for drinks and ambience but forgo the food. We opted for the £54 ‘tasting menu’, which was filling and served up a variety of hot and cold dishes. The likes of clam miso soup, a sushi platter and the notable highlight – the duck dish accompanied by yuzu sauce – graced our table. Nevertheless, the meal and experience was overpriced and underwhelming. The dishes are what you’d expect from any decent Asian chain restaurant. If you’re going to spoil yourself, stick to the real old school kids, Nobu and Zuma instead.
With no shortage of high-end Westernised Japanese cuisine in the city, the survival of Sake No Hana is still a mystery playing out in my mind…
Sake No Hana
23 St James’s St
London SW1A 1HA