Hanami, the Japanese tradition of sharing a springtime picnic beneath sakura trees and savouring the cherry blossom, has more recently been embraced by Londonrestaurants and bars, which showcase blossoming floral installations, special menus, cocktails and guests greeted with a passionate “Irasshaimase!” on arrival.
Sakura Supreme at Sake no Hana Inspired by “hana fubuki”, a Japanese phrase meaning “cherry blossom blizzard”, artist Lydia Kasumi Shirreff has transformed the restaurant with aerial installations representing clouds of petals. The four-course Sakura Supreme menu (£38 per person including a signature Sakura cocktail, or £52 including a glass of Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs. Until June 18), created by executive chef Hideki Hiwatashi, features akadashi hirousu, a red miso soup with asari clam cake, seaweed and chilli yuzu; a selection of sushi; Sakura salmon with yuzu miso; Angus beef sumiyaki with a chilli ponzu with pudding; and a delicate orange blossom panna cotta.
A Japanese garden at Mei Ume A cherry blossom garden with twisting boughs weaving through hanging lanterns will take over this Four Seasons restaurant. Its sakura-inspired à la carte menu (available from April 16 to May 5) sees sushi chef Mun Seok Choi and his team craft a Mei Ume golden dragon roll with unagi, Alaskan crab and avocado. A new cherry blossom cocktail (£12.50), made with Dry Sipsmith gin, lychee and yuzu juice, is a zingy Hanami toast.
Zuma branches out with six sakura cocktails This Knightsbridge restaurant unveils a floral installation featuring tree trunks and blossom-laden branches running along the bar’s wall and ceiling (until June 17). Six sakura cocktails (£12.70) include Hanami Sour, a Ciroc Vodka, aloe vera, jasmine, rose yoghurt, almond syrup and yuzu concoction; and Yamazakura Martini (£14.50), Ciroc Vodka with poached peach in vanilla, saffron yuzu and lemon prosecco.
Neon blossom at Shochu Until June 20, the cherry blossom will be brighter and bigger at Roka, Charlotte Street’s chic subterranean bar, as pink neon lighting covers the ceiling. Hanami under the 21st-century blossom can be toasted with three new cocktails: Sakura Sour, an akashi-tai plum sake shaken with arbikie vodka, passionfruit and sakura paste; Morello Fizz, a roku gin with morello cherry, red vermouth and soda; and Cherry & Tonka Manhattan, nikka from-the-barrel whisky stirred with oloroso sherry, sobacha and tonka. Shochu will also be open during lunchtime on Saturday and Sunday for its sakura festival.
Sexy Sakura at Sexy Fish A neon-lit blossom installation is also a feature of Sexy Fish’s Hanami celebrations. Sexy Sakura is naturally the name of the game (from April 10 to April 29) and comes in the form of a traditional blossom cake (£30 each) by Sebastian Wild Cakes. The cherry blossom-shaped sponge flowerpot is filled with a silky Swiss meringue buttercream, which holds a blossom tree sprouting delicate flowers sculpted from sugar paste. Four cocktails have also been created with Japanese whisky pioneers House of Suntory, such as the ‘U and Me’ cocktail combining Hibiki Japanese Harmony whisky, sweet umeboshi, lemongrass and ginger cordial, tonka bean bitters and topped with Tokaji.