Monday, 2 November 2009

'Wicked' and Sake no hana

There were two things that we were excited about during our London trip last weekend. First, we were going to watch the musical 'Wicked' and second, we had reservation at one of the most highly recommended Japanese restaurants in London.

We went for the matinee showing of 'Wicked' and there were LOADS of children in funny, halloween costumes and the whole of the Apollo Theatre was jammed packed!! Because we only paid £20 for each ticket so you can imagine that we were sooooooo far away from the stage (the second last row) that the characters on stage were as small as my thumb, haha. We paid £1 to hire the pair of binoculars supplied but we could just about make out the faces of the characters through the binoculars. Overall the musical was good, but not as great as The Lion King, I must admit.

By the time we squeezed ourselves out of the theatre at the end of the musical, we had plenty of time before we had to make our dinner reservation at Sake no hana on St. James Street, near The Ritz Hotel. So we took the underground heading towards Green Park. It was a good job we had ample time as between us, we had two Google maps on our mobiles and still we managed to go the wrong way, twice. 

Upon reaching the restaurant, we still weren't sure we got the right place as  the area around the outside of the restaurant was dark; there was no clear sign board apart from some small letters next to the entrance. The entrance to the restaurant reminded me of the entrance to a secret society. It was dark and gloomy I actually thought in dismay that the restaurant was shut. The glass doors slid open after we stood there for a full 10 seconds and we were ushered upstairs to the main restaurant. Sake no hana is divided into three sections: downstairs is the conventional Sushi bar; upstairs you have the cocktail bar, followed by the main restaurant area where you have the choice of sitting on the floor (not quite on the floor because there are holes where you can dangle your feet), or you can sit at tables.

We chose the 'sitting on the floor' table, mainly because we knew we wouldn't be expected to fold our legs and sit properly like a real Japanese due to the hole in the floor. The interior of the restaurant was a neutral blend of bamboo and wood, with dim lights projecting from the right angle to create a very elegant and soothing environment. Before I had to take my shoes off and settle down, I visited the ladies and as expected, it was as equally impressive as the main dining area. It was too bad I didn't have my camera with me at that time... don't worry, I wasn't about to take a picture of myself on the bog, but the sink area was a spectacle in itself and I can only describe to you what it was like. Again the theme of bamboo and wood blend was evident in the ladies. The hand-washing area is formed by a main tub with a wooden tray sitting in between, for the disposal of used hand towels. There is no tap at the sink. Instead the water comes through two 'chutes' from the wall, into the tub. Washing your hands with water gushing down through the chute was so satisfying that I spent quite sometime washing my hands, haha.

Then came the exciting part of ordering for food from the simple menu of Starter, Salad, Sashimi, Maki, Rolls, Sushi, Tempura and Side Orders. After obtaining help from a really friendly waitress, we decided on our order and when our first order of Warm Softshell Crab with Rocket Salad came, we were well-impressed. Everything tasted as yummy as they looked and as soon as we had finished one dish, our next order materialized out of no where. One thing I must say is that the waitress and waiters were super efficient and super friendly.

Warm Soft Shell Crab Salad with Wasabi Sauce

Duck Breast Tempura drizzled with Sweet Vinegar Sauce (can't remember what the sauce is called)

Dragon Roll -- Eel, Avocado and Tobiko Caviar

My miso soup with tiny mushrooms, very nice

6 slices of Sashimi -- Seabass, Tuna and Salmon (just that plate cost us £15, eek)

We had some mixed tempura of prawns, scallop, pumpkin, courgette and mushroom too but didn't get chance to take any picture before we started digging in. At the beginning, because we knew that we only had a two-hour slot in which to order and dine, we were literally wolfing down our food thinking that we were not going to have enough time. But by the time we were eating the dragon roll we realised that we still had ample time so we slowed down and really took our time to enjoy our lovely and beautiful food. Steve was even persuaded to order some Sake which he really enjoyed tremendously. I had a sip or two and liked it too. The Sake tasted pure and had a full volume to it. Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, so to make ourselves feel less of a glutton, we shared a portion between ourselves.

The passion fruit cheesecake with yuzo ice cream that we couldn't resist

Overall, the bill should have been a little over £100, but because we managed to obtain a special 30% discount time slot, our whole bill came to £88, which is still a lot for a meal, but it was a special treat seeing that we don't go up to London very often. And it was a truly fantastic and tasty experience.

It was really a great foody weekend : over the weekend we dined at a French restaurant in Marylebone Street on Saturday for steak and chips for lunch; Japanese restaurant on St. James Street for Saturday dinner; and Breakfast at The Brew House Cafe in Kentwood House at Hampstead Heath.

Have to limit my intake beginning of next week.... but it was all worth it !! I shall finish off this blog with some really beautiful pictures I took of Hampstead Heath this morning, a wet but colourful windy morning. Apparently, this is the setting in which Julia Roberts did the filming of her period movie in the movie The Nottinghill (I hope this makes sense).


wenn said...

wow..delicious japanese food..

Audrey Wiles said...

ooooo *turns greeen!

love the dragon rolls.. looks soo good, was that avacado?

escape2 said... eyes are on the passion fruit cheesecake

PengPeng彬彬 said...

audrey yupp that's avocado. it was so crafty and so beautiful... steve and i had a full 5 minutes conversation of how they would have made it... it was absolutely delicious as well.

ash said...

That looks good! I had Japanese for lunch today; had been craving it for 3 weeks now and no time to go. When you come back for a visit I'll take you for Japanese food ok. Can order a lot at a fraction of UK prices. The pictures of Hampstead Heath are beautiful :)

PengPeng彬彬 said...

ashley, ooooo i would lurrrrve that !!! steve and i both agreed that the best japanese food we've ever had was actually in Miri, and he said the best italian food he had had was in thailand !!! haha.

Rosfida Abu Sufi said...

I love those pictures of the beautiful scenery...really miss The UK..lucky you.

PengPeng彬彬 said...

hello ros it's good to see you here. well i only go up to london perhaps two or three times a year... i love london too. makes me all excited !!!

Bea said...

when we went to watch Wicked, we sat at the 2nd row from the stage so for us, it was a totally different experience cos you can practically see the actors' saliva...hehe... and the actors made use of the whole stage and the aisle and front space very maybe that's why it was different.

Doria Robert Kawen said... i miss watching plays and and audrey enjoyed plays so much,kannnn..
i dont eat japanese food-tried once..ending up vomiting.maybe the tempura-Ok but the no..i dont like seaweed..and raw food.sigh.

SJB said...

Love the dessert (*_*).

tiee said...

That Japanese restaurant sure has a lot to offer. Cool place. I've never seen any of those food offered in Japanese restaurants here...I like...Been a while since i've been to one actually. It's so little yet so expensive. hehe...

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Peng Peng, London is where the action is. Nice pics and enjoyed read your dinner experience.
Regret I'm not a Japanese food fan, ha ha. You look nice in the pics.
Have fun and keep warm, Lee.

Fely said...

Hi!!! Aiya!! last to put comment here! Actually I did try once tapi I wrote panjang-panjang and then it disappeared. so I merajuk lah! hahahah..
Anyway, looks like you had tons of fun in London. And the food looks so scrummy. Thank you for eating for me...hehehe.
Nice leh..can go makan-makan for the whole weekend. That restaurant looks nice leh...macam you can expect to see a celeb walk in anytime, kan?
Ok lah, nanti we make a date and go makan-makan also ah. We try lah Brighton, soooooo many food. XXX

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