Sake No Hana's Chef Jason Hall Talks The NYC Restaurant's Signature Dishes & Culinary Inspiration
Sake No Hana's Dining Roon. Photo Credit: TAO Group Hospitality
With so many new restaurants popping up all over New York City, it's often hard to gauge which ones are worth the hype. But Sake No Hana is worth it. First opened in December 2022 by Tao Group Hospitality (the globally recognized group behind TAO, Hakkasan, Lavo Ristorante, Yauatcha and Cathédrale), the Japanese restaurant is adding a modern flair to the country's traditional cuisine. This is also elevated by its location within the new Moxy Lower East Side hotel.
The culinary vision of Sake No Hana is helmed by Chief Culinary Officer Ralph Scamardella, and the menu was created by Chefs Yoshi Kojima (VP of Culinary Development) and Jason Hall (VP of Culinary Operations). Following a journey through Japan, the culinary visionaries put their mind together to create a menu that honors Japanese cuisine but also fuses New York City's signature edginess.
The menu is divided into sections: Zensai, Sushi, Robata, Noodles & Rice, Entrées, and Imperial Cuts. Highlights include Crispy Tokyo Gyoza, Bluefin Tuna Toro Tataki, Wafu Carbonara and Niigata Snow-Aged Sirloin. The best way to order is to sample various dishes from each section (including the cocktails and desserts), which makes for a fun group dining experience.
Below, Jason Hall speaks to EDITION about what makes the restaurant worth visiting.
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Do you remember the first dish you tried that sparked your passion for cooking?
Absolutely, my culinary journey started with some incredible dining experiences during my travels at a young age, igniting my passion for cooking through the exploration of fine dining. One standout dish I tried that sparked my passion was a meal I shared with dear friends Charles and Amanda Dorato by Chef Christian Delouvrier at Lespinasse Restaurant in New York, which included a course of sautéed langoustines with cauliflower and black burgundy truffles.
Can you briefly walk me through your culinary experience?
I’ve had the privilege of working with culinary legends in New York City, starting with Tom Colicchio’s opening team at Craft and later as Chef de Cuisine of Gotham Bar and Grill with Alfred Portale. These experiences solidified my appreciation for using high-quality seasonal ingredients.
For first-timers at Sake No Hana, what are some signature must-try dishes and why?
You definitely can’t miss our temaki hand rolls! They not only feature crowd-pleasing ingredients but also bring a fun and shareable moment to the overall experience at Sake No Hana.
Sake No Hana's Wagyu, Asparagus, Kaluga Caviar Sushi Roll. Photo Credit: TAO Group Hospitality
I know you traveled to Japan to gain more culinary knowledge. What was the most interesting thing you discovered throughout your journey and why?
Traveling throughout Japan taught me the importance of focusing on high-quality ingredients and mastering fundamental cooking techniques. The freshness blew me away, and the attention to detail in service, from neighborhood joints to fine dining, was phenomenal. A standout was a slow-cooked Tonkatsu Narikura that featured homemade panko breadcrumbs.
One of my favorite aspects of my experience at the restaurant was how well the cocktails paired with the meals. Can you discuss the importance of having a cocktail menu that's just as elevated as the food itself?
Sake No Hana draws inspiration from Tokyo’s Izakaya style, where ingredients are taken seriously without losing the element of fun. Cocktails play a vital role in enhancing the dining experience, so it’s important to create lively and refreshing cocktail offerings that pair well with the menu offerings.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I’d label my cooking style as high-quality and seasonal ingredient-driven, adaptable to various cuisines.
Sake No Hana's Harajuku Icon Cocktail. Photo Credit: TAO Group Hospitality
What’s your go-to comfort takeout meal after a long day in the kitchen?
I tend to keep it simple - maybe a quick scrambled egg or experimenting with different cereals such as Magic Spoon and Granola by Lovebird with ice-cold almond milk. I usually sneak back a few boxes to New York City from Erewhon during my visits to Los Angeles.
Can you tease or share anything about new dishes or culinary concepts with readers for the holiday season?
Sake No Hana offers a Toyoso Fish Market Special. This offering features live scallops and uni, perfect for the winter season. One highlight is our Scallop dish with Asian Pears, Crones, Sunchokes, and a winter vinaigrette made with barrel-aged soy sauce.
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Photography by: TAO Group Hospitality