Sakura at Sake no Hana | Lifestyle

sake no hanaSake no Hana | Japanese | Mayfair | Website | Nearest Tube: Green Park
– reservations available –

Last year I posted about fulfilling one of my foodie dreams – to visit Sake no Hana during cherry blossom season. The annual event of Sakura at Sake no Hana is one of beauty and simplistic indulgence. The restaurant is transformed into a sea of sakura, with blossoms adorning walls, ceilings, tables… The dishes reflect the decor, with hints of sakura and cherry making their way onto the set menu. Myself and VA (chopstick panorama) were invited to return again this year, and of course we couldn’t say no to this glorious event.

To Start…

We began with a cocktail so innovative, I doubt it could ever been outdone. The Kaori Arpége mixes gin, yuzu sake, cherry liquor, peach bitters, grapefruit juice and agave. It sounds wonderful, no? As delicious as it was, the presentation and use of edible perfume made the drink. Our perfumes consisted of 3 flavours: refreshing elderflower, spicy cinnamon and floral violet. My favourite was the unique use of violet, which smelt as wonderful as it tasted.

Mains…

After a light miso soup, we were served our boxes. These consisted of a Sushi & Sashimi Box and Salmon Miso Yaki. I can’t eat raw fish, so the chef kindly seared mine for me. Each mouthful was fresh and flavoursome. I could have easily eaten two boxes. However I’m glad I didn’t as the Salmon Miso Yaki with egg mustard sauce is not to be missed. We both noted that the portions of chunky salmon were of considerable size, and the mustard sauce was smooth and tangy, but not spicy.

And Dessert…

To end our meal I chose the Cherry Chocolate Sake Mousse with a side of Sakura Sencha (a special blend of cherry blossom tea). As always, Sake no Hana produced a beautifully light dessert. With subtle hints of cherry and chocolate, this is a dessert that almost anyone could enjoy. I was pleased to find that the blend of tea was the same as last year; sweet, bold and the perfect accompaniment to their Cherry Blossom Macarons.

Sake no Hana final thoughts:

VA and I spent the good part of 2 hours in the restaurant. When the food is this exceptional, and the decor this magnificent, time flies by. Even if you can’t make it for the Sakura Menu (£34pp for cocktail, soup, sushi and salmon boxes), I would suggest stopping by for the Sakura Sencha (£4.50) and Macarons (£1.80 each/5 for £8). As always I throughly enjoyed my experience of Sakura at Sake no Hana, and that’s exactly what this is, an experience. Relax and enjoy your time at Sake no Hana, because this is as much a feast for the eyes, as it is for the stomach.

Check out last year’s Sakura at Sake no Hana post here.

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Where to Eat in London: Nosteagia

nosteagiaNosteagia | Bubble Waffles & Bubble Tea | Nearest Tube: Shoreditch High Street

Every now and again I will complain about the lack of Taiwanese food in London. For some reason it’s a real rarity. So when I do find it, I hold onto it. Previously I’d found the delicious lunchbox offerings of Bian Dang, but a part of me was craving for something sweeter. Luckily, I happened upon Nosteagia whilst browsing Instagram one day. I noticed that they were located close to my office, at Pump on Shoreditch High Street, so I rushed down for one of their bubble waffles. Yes you heard me correctly, Taiwanese bubble waffles!

The Sweet…

On my first visit to Nosteagia I tried the King Chocolate Bubble Waffle; a mixture of M&Ms, Nutella, chocolate sauce and cream. It was delicious, and gave me a much needed sugar boost after a long morning. Since then I have tried waffles overflowing with coco pops, ones with matcha ice cream, peanut butter…even one with half a Snickers bar sticking out of it! These sweet treats are as delectable as they are Instagramable.

And The Savoury…

Believe it or not, Nosteagia offer savoury dishes as well. In fact when I popped by on my first visit I brought a friend, who ordered the Gyudon (Japanese dish of rice and seasoned beef). It was so authentic and delicious, that he comes back with me every time, and he always orders the Gyudon. In fact quite a few of my work buddies sing the praises of Nosteagia’s savoury dishes.

Final thoughts on : Nosteagia

Nosteagia may be offering up Instagram worthy foodporn for the people of East London, but there’s more to this street food vendor than meets the eye. It is run by two of the loveliest people I’ve met in the London street food scene – two students who wanted to bring Taiwanese Bubble Tea to London. The ingredients used are fresh, and the food is made on the spot. The introduction of a weekly special has also been a real treat. I always look forward to seeing what they will come up with next. In my opinion, the savoury dishes are just as worthy of your lunch money as the waffles. However if I had to give one tip, it would be to come here for a savoury lunch…and stop by later for dessert!

Read more in my Where to Eat in London series.

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Dr Organic Snail Gel Hand & Nail Elixir | Review

dr organic snail gelDr Organic Snail Gel Hand & Nail Elixir*

You must all know my love for snail gel products by now. Well if you don’t, trust me when I say I love them. So much so in fact, that I’ve tried out pretty much all of the Dr Organic snail gel range. I’ve had a few ups and downs with the products. Some were amazing, whilst others failed to hit the bat. Mostly though I’ve enjoyed testing them all out. That’s why I was happy when I recently discovered their Hand & Nail Elixir hiding in one of my drawers. Yes I do have a bad habit of hoarding beauty products. However as this was during one of my “clear outs” I decided to unbox it and make an effort to use it everyday. After all, I couldn’t resist adding another product to my list.

Pros

  • Smells great
  • Light
  • Hydrating
  • Absorbs quickly

Cons

  • Runny consistency

Final thoughts on: Dr Organic Snail Gel Hand & Nail Elixir

I love the smell of Dr Organic’s snail gel products, and this hand cream is no different. The subtle lemongrass scent is refreshing and zesty. Definitely a plus for me. However we all know that hydration is the key element when it comes to hand cream. Well this does as any other average hand cream would. It’s hydrating, although not overly so; meaning you may feel the need to apply more later in the day. My theory is that this is due to the runny consistency of the cream itself. However this does mean that it absorbs quickly. Swings and roundabouts, ey? At £14.99 I wouldn’t purchase this, as it’s a little too expensive for a lightly hydrating hand cream. Even if it does smell amazing.

You can buy Dr Organic Snail Gel Hand & Nail Elixir in Holland & Barrett stores, and online.

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Skincere Day Cream | Review

skincereSkincere Day Cream*

It can be difficult to find good skincare when you have sensitive skin. Even harder when you have an allergy or intolerance. Honestly I don’t see many products boasting this kind of status. Well hello Skincere! A few of Skincere’s products showed up at my door recently, and I was a curious. The brand boasts a 100% natural skincare range. Now that may sound average, but most “natural” skincare products are only natural to a certain extent. A lot of them are around 70-90%…which is great. But to find a 100% product, well that’s really awesome. So I decided to test them out, starting with the Day Cream.

Pros

  • Wheat free, Soya Free & Dairy Free
  • Perfect for sensitive skin
  • Light & hydrating
  • Smooth application

Cons

  • Takes a minute to absorb

Final thoughts on: Skincere Day Cream

I found it hard to find anything bad about this day cream. I have sensitive skin, and occasionally allergic reactions to some products. That doesn’t mean I worry when trying out a new product, but it does make me feel better if I know the product is made specifically to avoid this happening. I’m also impressed with the wheat, soya and dairy free – I may not have an intolerance, but I’m sure those who do will be impressed too. As for using the product, it applies well – the cream is light and soft on the skin. It does take a little bit to absorb, but when it has done, it’s hydrating and it doesn’t feel heavy at all. I’ve found my makeup works well with it too – always a plus. It is £24.99, which is a little expensive. However if I had a history of allergic reactions/intolerances to ingredients in skincare products, this is definitely something I would snap up straightaway.

Skincere’s Day Cream is now half price on their website. You can also purchase Skincere products in Holland & Barrett stores, and online.

Thanks to Bloomon for my gorgeous bouquet, and the flowers included in this post.

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Where to Eat in London: Wa Cafe

wa cafeWa Cafe | Japanese Patisserie | Nearest Tube: Ealing Broadway

Some may say that France has the best patisseries in the world, however I would have to disagree. Japan has learnt from it’s European counterparts and created something altogether unique – fusing traditional ingredients with modern techniques. I’m sure you won’t find it odd when I say I miss Japanese food. However you may be surprised that a lover of savoury items such as myself, misses Japanese pastries. I can’t begin to explain how delicious and light they are. It’s something sweet and savoury fans alike should experience at least once in their life. So when I heard that Wa Cafe (an authentic Japanese patisserie) had opened in Ealing Broadway, I knew I had to try it. Skip ahead almost a year, and I was back again for my birthday weekend.

The Savoury…

 The first time I visited Wa Cafe they had run out of sandwiches, so I knew I had to grab one this visit. Two soft, chunky slices of bread encompass the Chicken Katsu Sandwich. Inside, the breaded chicken is accompanied by lettuce and a delicious salad dressing. This is one gigantic sandwich; perfect for sharing. However a dish this delicious may leave you wanting a whole one for yourself.

And The Sweet…

The savoury dishes here may be wonderful, but I know you’re all wondering how the cakes are! This visit I had the Strawberry Shortcake, and I was not disappointed. Japan’s Strawberry Shortcake is very different to the UK kind. A light sponge is layered with cream and strawberries. It’s very popular as a birthday cake in Japan, so it seemed fitting for this particular visit. Wa Cafe’s is just as light and airy as those I ate in Japan. The cream is sweet, but not sickeningly so. And even as someone who dislikes strawberries (yes, I’m weird), I enjoyed this cake immensely.

Final thoughts on : Wa Cafe

Wa Cafe is well worth the journey (around an hour from my East London dwellings), and well worth the wait. The cakes are as delectable as they are aesthetically pleasing. I spent around £17 on this particular visit, and I don’t regret spending a penny of it. Previously I tried the Matcha Swiss Roll, Curry Pan and the Melon Pan – all of which I would have again…once I’ve worked my way through the rest of the dishes. Of course. I could easily have breakfast, lunch and dinner here. In fact I’m not even upset that visiting means becoming more acquainted with my gym membership.

Read more in my Where to Eat in London series.

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Celebrating Chinese New Year at Yauatcha

yauatchaYauatcha City | Dim Sum | Broadgate Circle | Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

Last week Yauatcha invited myself and VA (chopstickpanorama) to come along to their City location, to celebrate Chinese New Year with them. I don’t usually celebrate new year, whether it’s British, Chinese etc etc…you get my point. However when Yauatcha told me that this particular celebration would involve copious amounts of food – and gin – I found myself unable to say no.

Dim Sum

We ordered all of the dim sum dishes from the CNY menu, which includes: Caviar siew long bun (full of soupy deliciousness), Foie gras roast duck puff (beautifully presented rich parcels of goodness), Caviar taro dumpling (a dumpling by any other name…) and Black truffle edamame sesame ball (oddly sweet). The Caviar siew long bun was the best dish by far for me that evening. However the Foie gras roast duck puff came in at a close second. Controversy aside, this is a delicately rich and buttery dish, and I love the heart shaped pastry. I could easily have ordered both of these numerous times, and gorged on them for the rest of the night.

Main

For our “main” we ordered the Yauatcha scallop pushing (a light, refreshing salad), Hakka fortune pot (a variety of meats & seafood) and Dried oyster fried sticky rice (to accompany). The Yauatcha scallop pushing was a mixture of textures and zesty flavours. Our server also explained that this traditional dish comes with an added bonus; by mixing it as high as possible you can make one wish for the new year. Let’s see if VA’s comes true (she did all the mixing)! I was excited for the Hakka fortune pot as it included abalone (a new taste for me), however I felt slightly let down by the dish. Alongside the Dried oyster fried sticky rice, it all just seemed like a classy version of a Chinese takeaway…which to be fair, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not for me.

Gin Cocktail Flight & Macarons

The cocktail flight was a lovely accompaniment to our meal. Each of the 3 cocktails was served at separate times throughout the evening; to compliment the food we were served. Of course the Saffron gin and tonic was my favourite. Ever so sweet, and a pleasing colour  – kudos to Monkey 47 for this dry & complex gin.

The macarons (Gin and tonic, Juniper berry, Bitter orange almond, Elderflower ginger, Rose rosehip and Camomile) were a delight, as they always are at Yauatcha. Their innovative use of ingredients never fails to produce a unique flavour and texture. My favourites of the evening were the Rose (tastes just like Turkish delight), and the Camomile (the buttercream is almost custardy in texture).

My thoughts…

Our meal came to just over £157 (£79 each), including the cocktail flight. Taking this into consideration I can’t say I would go back and spend that much. However I would happily go back for the select few dishes that helped make my evening so delicious (see bolded items).

Head to Yauatcha to view their Chinese New Year menu.

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Dr Pierre Ricaud Collagenes 9 Eye Cream | Review

dr pierre ricaud Collagenes 9Dr Pierre Ricaud Collagenes 9 Eye Lifting Treatment Cream*

French skincare products proudly sit in my top 3 (next to Korean & Japanese). However it’s fair to say I stick to the same brands I know and love. Recently I changed this, with the introduction of a few Dr Pierre Ricaud products. You may recognise the brand, as it is a part of the Yves Rocher family – yes, the same as Petit Bateau. With such well known parents, I was eager to see what this new (to me at least) brand had to offer.

Pros:
– On/Off head function
– Brush applicator
– Soothing and gentle on skin

Cons:
– Brush applicator can become dirty
– Higher end price point

Notes:
First off, packaging. This little cutie is compact and easy to travel with. The brush applicator attached to the tube is great, and isn’t something I see very often in eye creams. I found this much better than applying on to the skin with my finger. Honestly I’m going to be sad when I have to go back to regular tubes. Every eye cream should have one of these! The on/off function means you won’t accidentally waste any product, and supposedly stops contamination. That said, I found that if I had not removed every single inch of my eye make-up – it happens to us all – then the brush becomes dirty. This can be remedied by gently cleaning it on the back of your hand, but it does make me wonder if this is why more brands don’t use brush applicators on their tubes.

I love this eye cream. It’s soothing and gentle on my skin, and it lifts my eyes when they’re feeling a little down. I find this particularly useful in the morning, when my eye bags are a little more puffy than usual (hello restless sleep). At £23 this is on the higher end of the skincare price point. I really like the product, but the price would definitely have me thinking before I purchased it.

You can purchase Dr Pierre Ricaud Collagenes 9 Eye Lifting Treatment Cream online at Dr Pierre Ricaud.
It is currently half price at £12.50 (was £23)!

dr pierre ricaud Collagenes 9 dr pierre ricaud Collagenes 9 dr pierre ricaud Collagenes 9 dr pierre ricaud Collagenes 9