Review: Sakagura Japanese Restaurant and Sake Cellar, London
Tucked away in a peaceful and picturesque enclave, away from the hustle and bustle of Regent Street, Sakagura offers washoku fine dining and a large selection of top quality sake predominantly by Gekkeikan, one of the oldest sake companies in the world.
Washoku dining takes inspiration from the seasons, using authentic ingredients and placing an emphasis on presentation and a balance between the senses and taste.
From the moment you step into Sakagura, you know you're in for something special. With low lighting and soulful music playing in the background, this is the perfect place for a romantic date, a relaxed business meeting or a catch up with friends. For that extra bit of privacy, ask for one of their booth style tables, which can easily fit four people and are fitted with a traditional Japanese noren (fabric curtain).
You can also drop in for a cocktail at their well stocked bar. The menu is extensive, offering a wide array of whiskeys and cocktails using Japanese ingredients as a base. With the option to choose from a Classic list or the more adventurous Japanese Journey menu, there's a drink to suit everyone's tastes.
We sampled one from each, and both were a treat for the palate. The Omomuki (Elegant) mixes Tantakan shochu, lavender, yuzu umeshu, shiso leaves, fresh lime juice and passion fruit, and offered a delicate and delicious mix of citrus flavours.
The Businessman is a classic old fashioned using a super smooth Hibiki harmony whiskey, complete with origami orange peel and a skillfully carved block of ice.
A magnificent sashimi mori-awase kicked off the meal in style, offering a variety of different seafood including tuna, salmon, yellowtail, scallops and sea bream.
Complimented by shredded daikon and a creamy wasabi garnish, with just the right amount of 'kick', the sashimi is perfectly fresh. You know that you're eating great sashimi when it's as smooth as silk and effortless to eat!
We were keen to try a variety of sakes that would compliment each course, and our knowledgeable waiter was on hand for suggestions. The sashimi course was accompanied by a light and fruity sparkling Kaze Mo Mori, followed by a warm sake with a more earthy taste for our next course, and our dessert sake was cloudy Nigori.
Another lovely touch is the opportunity to choose your own sake cup. Apparently there's a psychology to which cup you choose, so you can have a bit of fun trying to guess what your selections mean.
For our next course we tucked into a melt in the mouth Wagyu beef dish and a blackened lobster, both of which were beautifully presented.
Opting to share two desserts, we rounded off our meal with a matcha chocolate fondant gateau and an ice cream selection. Matcha is made from ground green tea leaves and has a distinctive colour and unique taste that takes a bit of getting used to if you've not sampled it before. We're huge fans, and were delighted to see this option on the menu. A twist on the traditional chocolate fondant, the gateau is served warm with a melted centre.
The yuzu sorbet makes for a refreshing palate cleanser. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that tastes a little like a mix between an orange and a lemon and has also been incorporated into some of Sakagura's cocktails. The Nigori sake compliments the dessert perfectly, and is an unfiltered option with the rice particles remaining to give it a creamy texture.
Sakagura's ice cream flavours are a Japanese twist on the classics, each offering something a little different for your palate; sake-kasu vanilla, chocolate and wasabi and soy sauce and caramel. The mixture of sweet and savoury flavours is well balanced and the strong flavours don't overpower at all. The perfect end to a magnificent meal that feels like a real journey through Japanese cuisine!
Apart from the delicious food, one of the stand out elements of Sakagura is the presentation. It's evident that a great deal of careful thought has gone into each dish, and the use of natural materials and seasonal garnishes gives the meal a harmonious feel.
Love Japan would like to offer a huge thanks to the Sakagura team for having us - Executive Chef, Kanji Furukawa, Head Chef, Jin Yackshin and Restaurant Manager & Sake Sommelier, Mimi Tokumine. We shall definitely be back!
Sakagura will be hosting 'Sakagura Discovery - Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami Anniversary Sake Talk with Niizawa Brewery' on 11 March 2017. Marking the 6th anniversary of the tsunami, a charitable donation from each booking will go to Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Relief. Niizaawa Sake Brewing's 140 year old brewery miraculously survived the 2011 tsunami.
You'll get the opportunity to sample a range of delicious sake, complimented by a variety of Japanese food pairings - including that wonderful matcha chocolate gateau! Please make the jump to their website for more info and to book your space.
If you visit Sakagura do let us know in the comments below.