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SushiSamba at the Heron Tower in London

Rating: 89.
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SushiSamba is the brainchild of Shimon Bokovza, Danielle Billera and Matthew Johnson, founders of Samba Brands Management (SBM). In 1999 they introduced the SushiSamba concept in New York City and since then they have openened SushiSamba restaurants in Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas and a second restaurant in New York City. The latter became world-famous when it featured in a Sex and City episode. Remember the 'Dirty Martini, Dirty Bastard' scene with Samantha and Richard? SushiSamba's first international outpost opened in London in August 2012. The restaurant is located on the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower and has the most talked about spectacular City views. Duck & Waffle, located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, is also managed by SBM.

SushiSamba is open daily from 11.30 till midnight and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. SushiSamba's all-day menu offers a vast range of traditional and fusion-style Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian dishes that are designed for sharing, like edamame, sashimi 'ceviche', nigiri sushi, rolls and fish and meat dishes. I had lunch at SushiSamba with my husband and a friend on Saturday 2 February 2013 and during our long lunch we ordered a rather greedy line-up of dishes.

First two 'Aperitivos':
'Padrón Pepper' - nice and juicy grilled Padrón peppers served with lemon and sea salt. 'Green bean tempura' - crunchy green beans in a light tempura batter served with a black truffle aioli. Lovely creamy aioli with light garlic flavours and the black truffle was a nice touch.

Next we ordered two 'Small Plates' and a dish from the 'Raw' section on the menu.

'Rock Shrimp Tempura' - delicious shrimps in a thin tempura batter, dressed with a fantastic spicy mayonnaise, drizzled with a light black truffle dressing and topped with fresh peas and pea shoots. A strangely delicious flavour combination - the textures worked really well and the fresh peas and pea shoots added a nice contrast.

'Cornish Sardines a la Plancha' - well-cooked moist sardines served with a delicious mildly spicy and smokey Aji Panca chilli sauce that had a hint of cumin, some wonderful chargrilled kale and nice soft and sweet yellow and red peppers. The bitter chargrilled flavours of the kale matched the oiliness of the sardines perfectly.

'Salmon Seviche' - Slices of raw salmon served with Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk), a blend of the spicy lime ceviche marinade and the salmon juices. The salmon was served with Aji Amarillo chilli, thinly sliced red onion and radish. A very lovely dish with nice salty and sour flavours.

We also ordered a a Samba Roll called Samba London - a fresh rice and crab roll cut into 6 pieces topped with (from left to right): Wagyu beef, scallop, prawn, yellowtail, tuna and salmon served with dots of wasabi mayonnaise, Aji Panca chilli pasta and a soy reduction.

Next, two dishes from the 'Robata' (chargrilled skewers) section on the menu. First Black Cod and Miso, exquisite creamy and sweet black cod served with a lovely miso sauce and some gorgeous sweet and sticky Peruvean corn. Followed by Organic Chicken Teriyaki, tender chicken brushed with a sweet and smoky, lightly caramelised teriyaki sauce and again some of the fantastic Peruvean corn on the side.

Before dessert we had three more dishes. We started with 'Tuna Tataki', lovely fresh tuna slices served with crunchy vegetables, avocado puree and a small garlic crisp. Then we had 'Wagyu Te Amo', 4 pieces of Wagyu beef sushi topped with half a quail's egg, shredded spring onion, crispy sweet potato and a few drops of pear soy sauce. Nicely presented sushi but the flavours didn't really work for me. This glitch was soon forgotten when the 'Hamachi Kama'  arrived. A beautifully chargrilled, moist and flavoursome yellowtail collar served with a nice pungent lime dipping sauce.

Time for dessert, 'Yuzu Meringue Tart'. A beautiful, blown sugar bulb with a nice and sharp yuzu cream filling, that had a wonderful velvety consistency. Also on the plate was some refreshing schezuan granita, small lemon meringues, fresh lemon zest and buttery crumbs. The crumbs almost managed to balance all the sharp and fresh flavours. A lovely dessert but there was too much yuzu cream on the plate.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable meal. The basis of the cuisine at SushiSamba obviously are Japanese classics, but these are skillfully blended with intriguing and pleasing dashes of Peru and  Brazil. This might seem like an unlikely liaison, but it actually seems to be working really well. SushiSamba serves colourful, vibrant and flavoursome food that is well-executed. The restaurant has an it-place feel to it that attracts City boys and girls on weekdays and manages to appeal to a completely different crowd on the weekends. Obviously, SushiSamba is not a place for purists, but it is fun and the food is really (it would be condescending to say: surprisingly) good. It is a very welcome new kid on the London dining scene block.

SUSHISAMBA London on Urbanspoon

Posted 09-03-2013


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