Restaurant Review: Sakagura, Mayfair in London
Through a glass facade featuring layers of colourfully labeled sake bottles, Sakagura has arrived on the pedestrian pavements of Heddon Street. New and seriously smart, the name behind this Japanese venture derives fittingly from the sake cellar that can be found in the basement that boasts premium sakes from respected Japanese producers.
Combining some of the finest aspects of Japanese fine dining and with sake firmly in the windows and on the menu, the dishes at Sakagura deserve some loving attention. A menu that is as delicate as the tastes of the suited Japanese businessmen sat within the suave booth aside of us; ‘Washoku’ the culinary heritage of Japan is the concept behind Sakagura’s refined menu. Described as a harmonious mix to stimulate the human senses, extravagant dishes that frequent a base of rice, miso, and pickles with glorious sides and noteworthy main dishes promptly fill our table.
With our first sake pairing, partnered with a colourful glass of our choice from a puzzle of vibrant options, we are recommended the manguro tartare which arrives adorned over crushed ice. Similar to that of a meat pate, this appetiser is presented within a wooden palate ‘or fisherman’s tray’ with a moorish and devilishly dark sweet soy sauce. It’s only January but this starter will not be forgotten, I send a snap later on to my friend who squeals with envy. Partnering with this, two down on the sophisticatedly scant menu is their sashimi moriawase; quite possibly the finest sashimi selection I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. The freshly cut rainbow of fish, (again on ice) and is carefully savoured, reaffirming my love for great cuts of sashimi.
Heartier dishes which have seen some flame follow from the Robatayaki (Japanese fire cooking). Strips of blushing wagu beef play against the lobster or in this case, whole langoustines, that are served with sea salt and lime. Superbly tasty, but without much meat, it was only that my guest didn’t feel Sakagura quite the appropriate venue to lick the shells clean! With this Robatayaki dishes are served with Kamameshi: rich, flavoursome bowls of rice, said to be a traditional staple. We choose what is their most popular, the chicken and gobo – extravagantly described in small print as goosnarch chicken and fragrant burdock. The other two Kamameshi bowls expand to madai and ikra (red sea bream and salmon roe) and kinoko medley (umami rich mixed Japanese mushrooms).
The desserts wrap up the symmetry of Sakagura’s menu with three simple but elegantly listed sweeter options. Matcha fondant gateau disguises itself as almost a green matcha macaroon with a rich cakey resemblance and is set within a blood red coloured dish. The raindrop cake we are surprisingly told is made with prawn, this odd concoction with clear agar umeshu jelly, cherry blossom and some glamour of gold leaf to finish. The third and potentially less adventurous but with an equally detailed description is ice cream & sorbert: sake-kasu vanilla, dark chocolate wasabi, soy sauce caramel and yuzushu liqueur.
A collaboration between a number of high profile stake holders who are in turn marking high class Japanese lifestyle on central London diners; Sakagura and its personalities come together as one Japanese visionary. A tribute to Washoku, a Japanese every day style of cooking that is also an intangible UNESCO recognition; from the sake to the sushi and even the seafood based desserts, the significance of Sakagura and its offerings are designed to tempt, educate and delight.
Address: Sakagura London, 8 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BU, 020 3405 7230, sakaguralondon.com
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