Monday, 26 May 2014

Sushi Samba

Once the Heron Tower was built, Sushi Samba signed a contract which allowed their restaurant to be located on the 38th and 39th floors of this building. Samba Brands Management has had huge success in the US with restaurants in New York, Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas. However, they decided to make their brand international and the first city which they decided to conquer (or try to anyway) was London. As we all know, London is a ferociously competitive environment for any restaurant - whether it's targeting the lower, middle or upper class. So, lets see if Sushi Samba meets my expectations....

When we entered the lift, and pressed the 38 button on the side panel, the lift went up very quickly. My ears felt the same effects of being on an aircraft after take off and after 20-25 seconds the whole skyline of London can be seen. As we get out of the lift and enter the place, there is an outdoor bar to the left which is under an awesome golden orange lit tree. Unfortunately, the bar area is a bit too open for the public, and unfortunately this area is filled with a lot of unclassy, trashy East London women in miniskirts. This restaurant being a 2 minute walk from Liverpool Street Station, is in East London and Samba Brands Management has made a huge mistake of NOT letting this place become extremely exclusive like Aqua Shard/Hutong.

Having fought my way through the crowd of people just to get to the reception of the restaurant; I had a feeling that if I had come 10 minutes later to this place my table would have been taken by some of the people waiting around the bar area, such was the demand for dinner. Finally, the receptionist took me into the restaurant where an incredible bamboo-lattice ceiling was very structurally arranged with lots of lightbulbs hanging from the roof.

The waiters at this restaurant were very friendly, and even though each waiter serves a particular table, asking any of the waiters for extra dishes doesn't yield the response, "I'll call your waiter" but rather they carry out the order themselves. This small feature should be implemented by all fine dining restaurants

Moving on to the food, I decided to order the sushi first. The "Tiger Maki" was a combination of crab meat, prawn tempura and tiger prawn in each sushi. As soon as the first bite is taken, a sudden frenzy of flavours hits the tongue, as the wasabi mayo on top mixes with the beetroot yoghurt and the unagi tare to make this dish an instant winner. It was quite overwhelming as the first dish served, but was worth it!

The Vegetarian selection was also exceptional, using a combination of warm avocado, pickles and cucumber.

The last time I came to Sushi Samba, I experienced the best "Rock Shrimp Tempura" that even gave Nobu a run for its money. This time was ok, I believe they changed their shrimp source, as they opted to use prawns instead, and it kind of ruined that bite size feeling you get when you eat this dish. But in terms of perfecting the preparation of this dish, Sushi Samba definitely has, with the right quantity of batter and crispiness.

Next was the again infamous "Black Cod Miso", this time came in skewers, which I have never seen before. I always thought the way they make this recipe made the fish too soft to be skewered. But I was wrong, and this dish was more chewy than other ones i've tasted, but still an absolute delight.

The stand out dish for the night has got to be this one. "The Mushroom Tobanyaki" was unbelievable. A mushroom dish which is not quite a curry (although it can be eaten with rice) and not quite a stir fry contains many types of mushrooms from Shiitake to Portobello. But what was amazing was the poached egg inside this dish. The yolk added another flavour into the mix and made this dish tantalisingly tasty.

Still a bit hungry, I ordered the "Ezo", according to our waiter they created a newer, more improved version of the Ezo. Pieces of Salmon on top, and inside were avocado, sesame and pieces of deep fried tempura batter. I didn't really like this dish as much, as it felt weird biting into sushi, with crispy batter inside.

Before the verdict, I have to admit that something which left a bad impression on me was the state of the toilets by the entrance which was a complete disgrace. In the men's room, there were only three urinals. And the stench of urine was soo bad. I must emphasis again that Sushi Samba needs to be more exclusive with the type of people they attract. Anyone from the bar area/restaurant can use this toilet. There was no elegance to the interior of this bathroom at all, it was the type of bathroom any fast food restaurant would have like Burger King/KFC.

The Verdict

Ambience - 6.5/10
Food - 6/10
Service- 6.5/10

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