Peter Morrell and his wife enjoy the excellent service and the Izakaya style food in this relaxed Japanese restaurant
Since it opened a year ago Sakagura has been making a name for itself with its authentic Japanese cuisine and sake bar. To celebrate their first birthday Sakagura has launched their brand-new izakaya style menu.
Inspired by the drinking houses of Japan, izakaya is a unique concept that encourages affordable, relaxed and fun dining, underpinned by ‘omotenashi’, wholehearted and selfless hospitality.
The restaurant is located on fashionable Heddon Street in London. The décor is ascetically very pleasing with booths and dividers that give the dining space an intimate feel and the omotenashi is in evidence from the minute you step through the door with the warmth of the greeting.
We had beers to start and the first revelation was the Japanese craft beers on offer, while my wife had the well know Sapporo and I tried the Hitachino (Owl) Nest white beer, a highly refreshing brew made in Belgian style with spices and orange peel.
It’s worth spending some time reading the menu, if you are unsure about anything the friendly service team will give you guidance. You can start with sushi and sashimi before moving on to tempura or grilled yakatori and then mains of donburi, a bento set or for pure luxury waygu beef. There is also a long list of sides which are all substantial in their own right.
Unless you are super hungry you will not be able to eat from every section so we missed out on the sushi and sashimi to start. Out of a wide range of sides like pork gyoza and seaweed salad we chose Japanese pickles. These were served first and their subtle flavours sharpened the appetite. This was a culinary adventure as we crunched our way through gobo burdock root, shiso umeboshi, takuan radish and shibazuke Asian cucumber.
Our next course was the assorted seafood tempura of the day. The satisfyingly crispy batter was as light as a feather and it coated an array of seafresh prawns, squid and white fish. There was a rhythmic ritual to eating it. We dipped the seafood in a bonito tempura sauce, adding some grated daikon radish and sprinkling it with matcha moshio and brown seaweed salt, each element added a different taste dimension.
Next up was jumbo yakitori, two charcoal grilled teriyaki skewers. The first, miso buta, was made with Berkshire black pork belly brushed with a blended miso glaze. This was packed with flavour as was the kamo terriyaki, Barbary duck breast with spring onion.
Our final course was a gozen bento set which we shared, we had ordered the chicken karaage and this was served with steamed koshihikari rice, wafu salada, tofu and wakami miso soup. There was a mound of deliciously flavoured, fried chicken, the miso soup was comforting and the rice fragrant.
The dilemma of what to drink with this complex array of powerful dishes was difficult to solve. Sakagura prides itself on its extensive sake list which would have been a solution but we resorted to the wine list. In the white section were a number of aromatic wines like viognier and sauvignon blanc. Our pairing for the evening was the Xenna chenin blanc, the on-trend grape from South Africa. The wine had tropical fruit aromas in the bouquet and on the palate it was fresh and fruity with pear and apple flavours. The lively acidity worked well with the delicate food and it had a bright, persistent finish.
Desserts had interesting Japanese twists on favourites like cheese cake and tiramisu but we spotted two flavours of ice cream that were too good to resist, matcha and soy sauce caramel, we shared a scoop of each and they more than met expectation.
My wife and I are not very familiar with Japanese food and this dinner at Sakagura has left us wanting more. It’s not just the eating but the entire experience, the omotenashi hospitality, the quality and design of the tableware, the ambience and the inventive combination of the tastes, flavours and textures of the food that make it so exciting.
Not only is the food good but it’s also great value for money, our bill was just over £40 per head including drinks. If you like Japanese food or are looking for a new culinary road to explore then go to Sakagura.
8 Heddon Street
London W1B 4BS
020 3405 7230