When you have the might of the owner of the Japan Centre, Shoryu and Ichiryu as well as being the first Japanese restaurant to be owned by a sake company in the UK, authenticity is never in doubt for a restaurant like Sakagura on Heddon Street. From the moment you walk in and greeted with “Irasshaimase!” and seeing the fantastic decor filled with gorgeous sake bottles on display, this feels like a little corner of Japan in the heart of the West End.
‘Sakagura’ means sake cellar and they have some of the best in town including Royal Warrant holders ‘Gekkeikan’. They also hold 22 types of Japanese whiskies. We tried a citrusy, light kagua blanc beer, which strangely enough is designed in Japan but actually brewed in Belgium. They also create many wonderful Japanese-inspired cocktails; I tried a refreshing seedlip cocktail called Kyoto Garden which was mixed in with lime juice, mint and apple juice.
The menu here is all about Washoku dining: a harmonious mixture of rice, miso, pickles, sides and main dishes, so that all your senses are stimulated. My visual senses were most certainly stimulated at the sight of the sashimi moriawase platter: with salmon, tuna, yellowtail, scallops all served with fresh wasabi, this was a seafood lover’s paradise. They were all exceptionally fresh, but I was particularly taken aback by how fatty the tuna and yellowtail tasted. This just isn’t the type of raw fish you will experience from sushi chain restaurants in town.
The silken tofu was exceptionally well-made with the contrasting textures of the crispy outer layer and the creamy smoothness of the inner layer and bathed in an appetising source of shiso ginger tomato salsa. The assorted vegetable tempura tasted crunchy and freshly fried with a fine selection of items like courgette flower, sweet potato and aubergine. The mixed Japanese mushrooms were filled with rice that had irresistible umami flavours, although I would have preferred even more mushrooms to be served.
The blackened lobster was on paper a great choice for the main course, however, the crustacean was short on the meat front and was verging on the limp rather than plump side. There were no complaints about the taste though, as they used a special moshio brown sea salt which added extra umami flavours and had just a hint of truffle taste.
Desserts ended with a matcha fondant gateau, that was cooked to just the right timing with a perfectly gooey interior and a deceptively simply yuzushu liqueur sorbet, which was packed with rich citrus flavours.