If, like me, you have a tendency to sing “SAMBA DE JANIERO” whenever Sushi Samba’s name came up, then welcome to the club. This fusion restaurant combines Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisine- the sushi comes with a South American twist, and the grilled meat is flavoured with a bit of Japanese flare. Sunday night was the third lucky attempt at coming here for dinner; previous tries were always cancelled to the point I wasn’t confident we’d even make this reservation. Like the last time we were dining in this very building at Duck & Waffle, it was a hot summery day outside and I melted into a puddle. The end. I met that husband of mine at the station, made the short walk to the Heron Tower and passed the red velvet rope towards the glass elevator up to the 38th floor.
The menu is split into a lot of categories, so it was a little bit confusing where to start. There are Starters, Small Plates, Raw, Robato, Large Plates, Samba Rolls and a selection of nigiri and sashimi as well as a few Amazonian specialities. In the end, we picked a little something from all over the menu to share between two.
For starters, we ordered the Lobster Taquitos and a tangy Scallop Seviche…
I loved the lobster taquito
The maize shell was crispy and light, the lobster filling rich with just a smidge of guacamole to compliment the whole little dish. A drizzle of lime on the top is recommended for a sharp, citrus contrast.
The ceviche was a ‘safe’ order; back in Bali, this was on nearly every menu and the Sushi Samba one brought me back on holiday. The scallops were tender and sweet, swimming in a bath of citrus juice, pickled mandarins and shiso and oddly, a topping of crispy noodles. It made a nice contrast of textures in every bite, but I wouldn’t have missed it if this wasn’t there.
We shared two sushi platters; the Samba London which comes with an assortment of rolls. There’s crab and tuna, salmon and prawn, and on the side wasabi mayo and a sweet soy reduction. The cuts of seafood were so fresh and tender and just lovely little bites in the summer heat.
The second platter was an assortment of nigiri omakase.
Omakase means chef’s selection, so until it’s served you don’t know what kind of sushi is on it’s way. A fun, risky little game! For ours, we had salmon, seabass, tuna belly, eel and I think red mullet. The seabass was excellent; clean and fresh like the ocean. However, I passed on the mullet and kindly let Robin have it instead 😉
This beast of a dish, right here
…this is the El Topo. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Portions of nigiri topped with salmon, jalapeno, melted mozzarella, shiso leaves and sprinkled with crispy onions. Jalapenos and mozzarella on sushi? I know. But, it works. Cheese and rice!
Then, my favourite dish of the night, straight from the Robato menu…
The simply named ‘Lamb Chop’
In a red miso and lime marinade, this was grilled to sticky, sweet perfection. The meat was tender and juicy, with chargrilled sticky bits on the sides. It was very rich, hence one portion was enough for two to share, but omg. Barbecue recreation needed asap.
For next time, I think I’d lean heavy into the Robata menu rather the sushi because what I sampled was so delicious. Perhaps one day I’ll order the Kobe Beef Ishiyaki at an eyewatering £1000! (48 hours notice needed) Yikes. But also, ballin’
Let’s talk about pudding.
Getting dessert when you’re lactose intolerant, can be tricky. Literally every pudding on the face of the earth feels like it’s made of dairy. I tend to stick to something ‘safe’ when ordering dessert, like a fruit salad. However, the mark of a good restaurant is their seemingly simple dessert items.
The Kudamono Exotic Fruit Salad is as exotic as it sounds; watermelon granité, with rambutan, mangosteen, dragonfruit, and mango, with a smidge of green tea gel, cherry crisps and a yuzu/ginger syrup. The dish has a little wow factor, served in a bento box with a small cocktail shaker of watermelon granité. Again, I’m taken back to Bali and my daily watermelon slushies! Robin ordered the Chocolate Banana Cake- lovers of sticky toffee pudding (and who doesn’t love sticky toffee pudding!) will go bananas for this.
So, SushiSamba sampled at last!
For a date night spot, it’s unbeatable. You have beautiful views (we spent the waiting time between dishes trying to work out where our house was) and if you time it correctly, a very lovely place for a sunset dinner! (our reservation was at 7pm and we caught Golden Hour- so I reckon an 8pm booking would be the ticket)
Prices are on the higher end of the scale but not shockingly so; our sushi platters ranged between £12-25 per platter, for instance.
Service was attentive; the server looking after us noticed neither of us were drinking and offered to substitute the vanilla rum ice cream in Robin’s dessert for plain vanilla (fyi, it was only because it was a school night and an early Monday start!) That attention to detail amongst many other tables was impressive.
So will I be making a return to Sushi Samba? Definitely!