A Taste of Japan — Sakura Season Hits London
By Tom Wilkinson
While Sakura season in Japan traditionally lasts from March to early May, there is still plenty of time to enjoy London‘s Sakura season events as many run into late June. Cocktail bars around the city are offering seasonal menus and, of course, Japanese food shops are the perfect location to pick up some seasonal items to celebrate at home.
Here is a sampling of a few of the best places to enjoy Sakura Season in London.
Shochu at ROKA on Charlotte Street has previously featured a cherry blossom installation to celebrate Sakura season. This year it is back but takes the concept even further with a stunning canopy of cherry blossom covering the entire ceiling of the basement bar. Pale pink neon lighting is used throughout to highlight the blooms and add a new ambience to the bar.
Not only can guests enjoy this display while dining up until June 20th, but they can also sample three unique seasonal cocktails:
- Sakura Sour – Akashi-tai plum sake shaken with arbikie vodka, passion fruit, and sakura paste for the perfect seasonal drink
- Morello Fizz – Roku gin, morello cherry, red vermouth, and a soda top for a refreshing cherry cocktail
- Cherry & Tonka Manhattan – Nikka barrel whisky stirred with oloroso sherry, sobacha, and tonka for a delicate twist on this cocktail classic.
For the duration of the installation, Shochu will also be open during lunch times on Saturday and Sunday only.
Sake No Hana
Sake no Hana has a seasonal set menu available until June 16th. As they pay homage to hanamai an art installation by Lydia Kasumi Shirreff graces this unique Mayfair restaurant. Pink clouds of blossom are suspended from the ceiling with light projected upon them to simulate the gentle falling of petals.
Hideki Hiwatashi has designed dishes inspired by his childhood memories of sakura in Kyoto that are matched by cocktails from Perrier-Jouët Champagne:
- Cherry Minto – Beefeater 24 gin with peach, cherry, mint, soda, and rice paper featuring Geisha art for a unique sakura drink
- Ruby Negroni – Beefeater 24 gin with campari, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, Ratafia, and Geisha art rice paper for a peachy take on this aperitif
Directly opposite Charing Cross station is the traditional Japanese sweet shop, K Minamoto. Using traditional recipes these delicate confections are made with carefully selected ingredients to elicit responses from all five senses.
The spring collection offers white peach flavoured dishes to delight your tastebuds. Why not try the delicious white peach flavoured Tousenka infused with the juice and light flavour of this sweet fruit? For the true connoisseur an entire white peach enrobed in jelly makes a unique centerpiece for the end of your sakura dinner party. And finally, my personal favourite, are the white peach mochi that must be savoured and definitely not eaten almost all at once over the course of a single evening. No, I wouldn’t recommend doing that at all…
From exquisite sake to Pokémon pocky, Japan Centre is the go to place for all your authentic Japanese shopping needs in central London. While they have multiple locations the new store under Panton Street features an extensive range of sushi, sashimi, and hot dishes to enjoy during your trip alongside a glass of distinctive sake.
A range of cherry-based products are on offer but make sure to check back each week through sakura season as they change every seven days. Regardless of whether it is on offer when you visit make sure to pick up some cherry blossom tea or sencha with blossoms to round out your collection.
Contributor Tom Wilkinson is a software developer by day and podcaster by night. He hosts and edits podcasts at Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sponge Productions: https://tinkertailorsoldiersponge.com/