To celebrate the arrival of Spring and warmer weather, aqua kyoto has launched a special cherry blossom spring menu to embrace the ancient Japanese tradition of Hanami (which literally translates to flower-viewing). This practise is still popular to this current day, where people gather to observe the mesmerising beauty of spring flowers, in particular cherry blossoms or ‘sakura’.
To this end, aqua kyoto has set up a spectacular cherry blossom display around their sushi bar area to bring you a flavour of what the ritual of hanami is like. In its current state, it is simply one of the most stunning sushi bars you will see in London. The only slight disappointment was the rather loud disco music – we thought traditional Japanese music might have enhanced the experience.
A tremendous amount of thought and attention has gone into devising this cherry blossom menu. It began with a cherry blossom cocktail: the main components were tanqueray gin, pear sake to give the cocktail an oriental feel and the use of maraschino and marasca cherry syrup to give it the cherry taste. It tasted too strong to begin with, but when we enjoyed it with the sushi, we began to notice more of the subtle flavours in the cocktail.
The sushi course of hamachi with sakura was elegantly presented – the chef used pink soya paper rather than nori to make sure it was exactly the colour they wanted. The hamachi was extremely fresh although perhaps lacking in flavour, but the use of the raw fish matched with pickled plums, fried sakura and eggs added textural variety, which is always an important consideration in sushi-making.
The adzuki bean snow ball dessert was perhaps the most complex and unusual offering from the menu. It looks like a typical mochi ball dessert, but complex flavours like sour plum granita with sakura tea, plum wine custard and used high-end rice in the form of atika komachi added to the flavour. It was a surprisingly light and gentle dish, much like the cherry blossom installation on display, and an unusual level of detail that you might not necessarily find at other Japanese restaurants.
Enjoying such a refined, light menu whilst admiring aqua kyoto’s picturesque cherry blossom installation is the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of Spring.
Words by Baldwin Ho