I feel I should share with you all when a date night goes well. Not in a smug way, I assure you. It’s just that date nights can SO easily go wrong. The wrong comment, snigger or even sideways glance can turn more than a pisco sour as we head out ‘to have some fun’. In fact, that’s probably exactly the issue: the pressure to have fun…together. One of my favourite girlfriends is dating at the moment and all she and he seem to have is fun. So, Friday night came around and I decided it was our turn.
To give praise where it’s due, it was He who first read about the Jiro documentary. As sushi passionistas, the story of an 85 year old sushi master massively appealed. Showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) on The Mall, we decided to meet at the café bar there and take a peak at the Juergen Teller: Woo! exhibition showing more of Vivienne Westwood than you’d imagine.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi details the life of Jiro Ono, owner of a 10-seater, 3 Michelin star restaurant bar located in a Tokyo subway station. A lethal mix of determination and pride makes Jiro and the way he runs his business fascinating. His tale doesn’t only inspire though, as we felt ourselves almost wince at his dedication and iron will. And, needlesstosay, David Gelb’s film leaves you seriously craving raw fish.
So intimate and arty is the ICA, that you feel positive that you’ll never set foot in a Vue nor Odeon cinema again.
Anyhow, discussing how lazy we felt in comparison with Jiro’s quest for perfection, we strode back up The Mall towards St James’ to dine at Sake No Hana.
The now-Hakkasan owned restaurant opened almost five years ago and has been reviewed in the past as inconsistent as well as pricey.
Never one to judge a restaurant by its reviews, I was keen to find out for myself. The geometrically arranged maple wood interior is pretty impressive (imagine a massive Jenga construction above your head), was designed by the Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. I spent precious menu reading time gazing vacantly at this. He likes to order anyway and, knowing what I love, the food came thick and fast. And t’was very good too.
With only one disappointing dish (an overly chargrilled ginger chicken – which they very kindly removed from our table as well as the bill), we left having more than satisfied our craving. The sushi impressive, the service excellent and our only criticism was the arrogance of the international crowd.
So we both (unusually!) agreed that it had been a pretty good date night: a thought provoking film in an alternative venue, great food and some inspiring dreams of perfect sushi.
Visit the Institute of Contemporary Arts to see Jiro Dreams of Sushi (as well as Juergen Teller’s Woo!) and eat at Sake No Hana, 23 St James’ St. SW1.