First Impressions – Sakagura

Sakagura is morden Japanese restaurant off Regent Street that prides itself in serving “Washoku”, which is essentially traditional Japanese food – lots of sushi and miso dishes. I came across Sakagura last year while searching for restaurants to go on a solo excursion. The menu looked rather promising with quite a few chicken dishes, so I instead reserved a table for Shiima and I this past weekend, and crossed my fingers in hope that she’d enjoy it lol.

Sakagura is about five minutes walk from Oxford Circus. It’s off Regent Street, on Heddon Street, which is a street that seemingly only has restaurants. Good restaurants at that. Shiima said it reminded her of being on holiday, where there are strips just lined with restaurants for tourists. Soon as you step into the restaurant, you are taken by the really cool décor. “Not Shoreditch cool … Soho cool,” Shiima spontaneously mentioned. It’s a mix of traditional Japanese and Morden aesthetics with low lighting for a rather intimate feel. It also has a really exquisite bar. We were sat and then quickly attended to by a few, initially in our estimation, overly polite waiters – head bowing, doting, and what not – but we soon got used to it, as I assume it was an intentional attempt to be traditional.

What we ordered

The menu has everything you’d hope for from a good Japanese restaurant, and quite a few more intriguing dishes. Shiima ordered tori tebasaki (chicken wings from the robata grill), and negima (chicken yakitori skewers) as starters, and the chicken and gobo, which is essentially chicken with rice cooked in a cast iron pot. I ordered unagi and wagyu nigiri, ika karaage (baby squid tempura), and kurobuta (pork belly yakitori) for starters, and tara miso yaki (black cod) for my main.

Review of the food

Starters

My nigiri was the first to arrive, and both were fantastic. I’m a recent convert to wagyu nigiri, and I’m loving it but the unagi (eel) nigiri is still my favourite nigiri out there. Tastes really lean, succulent and very moreish. It was fantastically presented as well. The chicken wings arrived next; four pieces of grilled chicken which weren’t really seasoned, other than a slice of lemon and some sansho pepper on the side, but it tasted good; simple, but good. The baby squid with chilli aioli dip was next, and we both really enjoyed it (Shiima’s fully in on squid tempura now lol). The batter was light and tasty, and the squid was fresh. The chilli aioli also went really well with the squid.

Mains

The two yakitori dishes (chicken for Shiima, pork belly for me) and the black cod all arrived at the same time, and this is when I came to the conclusion that the portion sizes for all the dishes are rather relatively small. The black cod was good, grilled nicely with blackened edges and not overly marinated in miso. I prefer my black cod slightly more spicy than sweet, but even though this wasn’t that spicy it was still delicious.

The chicken yakitori was really good, the teriyaki glaze wasn’t overly sweet, and the chicken thighs were succulent. The pork belly yakitori didn’t seem to have any glaze or seasoning, it was neither sweet, sour, nor spicy. It was grilled well, but I can’t remember much of the taste other than being somewhat disappointed with the lack of seasoning. Shiima’s chicken and gobo was excellently presented in a really cool cast iron pot, but like the kurobuta it seemingly wasn’t seasoned at all. Both the rice and the chicken were very well cooked though, but I’m not a fan of plain rice or seemingly plain chicken (there wasn’t much chicken in the dish either).

Dessert?

We did look at the dessert menu as well, but as we expected desserts with matcha, umeshu or sake didn’t interest us, but it probably will interest many others.

Verdict

Sakagura was certainly a good experience – Shiima enjoyed it 😊. The décor is really cool, the service really good, and the food is good, especially the sushi which was really good. It’s also fairly expensive, but it is worth it. I’d recommend for a date, and for sushi foodies. I didn’t really see any large tables but I imagine they could join single tables together so I recommend for mid-size group dining as well.

Dress Code: Smart Casual
Cuisine: Traditional Japanese
Amen’s Star Dish: Unagi Nigiri
Shiima’s Star Dish: Negima (Chicken Yakitori)
Price: £40 each (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Sakagura
https://sakaguralondon.com
8 Heddon Street
London W1B 4BS
020 3405 7230
Call to book, or Reserve at OpenTable

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