Peter Morrell has a great time cooking his own steak on a lava stone grilling plate
I am a great fan of Sakagura, the Japanese restaurant in London’s fashionable Heddon Street after having eaten there before Christmas when I was trying their new Izakaya style food. This style of food is 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.
As an extension of their new menu I heard that Sakagura has introduced another innovative concept, the Ishiyaki Stone Steak menu. This was too good to miss particularly as there is an offer until the end of February of lunch at £35 for two.
The new concept is simple, you have a choice of a 200 gram Argentinian Sirloin steak or 200 gram Ribeye. You can then choose your side dish, Hakata fries, Sweet Potato fries or steamed rice. Everyone gets a green salad and you can select a sauce including horseradish or fresh wasabi, or a Japanese inspired steak sauce – Misodare, Soyadare, Ponzu Oroshi. For non meat eaters there is also a vegetarian option.
After ordering this is where the fun bit starts, you are given a paper apron, you will find out why in a few minutes. When the food arrives it is presented on a wooden board and set into the board is a square of lava rock. This stone has been heated to a temperature of 400 degrees and it will stay like that for an hour. With a small pair of tongs you put the steak on the red hot rock and are advised to cook it for at least 30 seconds on each side before cutting. With a lot of theatrical sizzling happening about a foot from your shirt or blouse the aprons now seem like a very good idea.
My companion had chosen the sirloin and I had the ribeye, both steaks had a lot of good fat marbling that was soon releasing its essence into the meat. The steaks was very tender and had lots of intense flavour. We could have taken the steaks off the lava rocks at any time but out of interest left then on, turning occasionally. It was interesting to taste the steaks through all the stages of their ‘doneness’. We started with it rare, moved on to medium rare, then medium, medium well done and finally well done. Although medium rare seemed the optimal all the stages were good.
My side was steamed rice was sushi style so slightly sticky and my companion’s hakata fried were chips with a perfect crunch and served with a most intriguing cod roe mayonnaise, best described as the Japanese equivalent of taramasalata. My friend paired the wasabi with her sirloin while I went for the safer option of the soyadare sauce. We felt that both condiments added to the overall flavour profile of the meal. The green salad had a very pleasant dressing with a slight Japanese twist.
We could have matched the food from the extensive range of sakes that Sakagura stock but decided to pair it with red wine. My companion drank the La Cacciatora Nero D’Avola from Sicily. It had a good dark cherry and smoky nose and on the palate showed strong fruit favours and exotic spices. My Patriache Pinot Noir from France was a much lighter wine again with cherries in the bouquet. In the mouth it had soft tannins and a lively acidity that worked well with the meat.
We both enjoyed the meal immensely, it was an entire experience, the décor is ascetically pleasing with booths and dividers that give the dining space a cosy feel and the omotenashi hospitality is in evidence from the minute you step through the door with the warmth of the greeting and the cook it yourself is great culinary theatre.
The lunch set offer of two for £35 (excluding drinks, service and the Waygu beef option) is available until the end of February, you can apply for a voucher on the Sakagura website. After that the set with sirloin is £20, ribeye £22 and Waygu £38, all prices are per person and exclude drinks and service. In the evening sides and salad are charged separately.
You can read my review of the Izakaya style menu here…
8 Heddon Street
London W1B 4BS
020 3405 7230