After opening its doors in 1999 in New York, Sushisamba has become a trademark name for first-class dining across the globe. From the lights of Las Vegas to the desert of Dubai, there’s soon to be new openings in Doha, Riyadh and… Edinburgh!
There are currently two Sushisamba locations in the UK (albeit both in London). In Covent Garden, take advantage of the pre-theatre menu before heading to the West End, whilst Bishopgate transforms into their lively ‘Casa De Samba’ every Thursday to Saturday until 3am.
We visited the latter (just for the food, not for the party).With a mixture of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, prepare for a saporous experience rich in culture. It’s worth visiting even just for the views. Stupendous sights across the capital are a salient selling point, found in the restaurant located on the 38th and 39th floors inside Heron Tower.
Sushisamba isn’t just one of those infamous restaurants that charges a great deal for minimal outcome. Whether it’s the views, the menu or the reputation that draws you in, you will not be disappointed.
(Feeling hungry? Check out our guide to the London restaurants you must visit.)
What’s the vibe?
Even before getting to the menu, the journey from ground to table is an experience worth paying for. The full-glass elevator takes you to the 39th floor in style, though I wouldn’t look down if you’re afraid of heights.
House music brings the upbeat vibes but stays in the background – it’s not so loud that you can’t have a conversation, unlike other high-end restaurants who attempt to create a similar vibe.
And though the restaurant may not be the highest in London, the outdoor dining terraces are the highest in Europe, providing 360 degree views of the city. The ginormous orange tree on the west terrace is a signature sculpture within each Sushisamba location, which they say ‘reinforces the earth-to-sky motif”. The theme of nature runs throughout, with a convex bamboo trellis over the ceiling. It’s hard to distinguish whether you’re on earth or in the sky once seated in the restaurant, as the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a spectacle like no other.
The dress code is smart-casual, which nowadays is much more open to interpretation. People’s garments were varied, though running trainers and jogging bottoms are still a no-no.
What to order?
The menu is so good that it would take the ultimate willpower not to order everything on there. Start with the Lobster Taquitos, the Tempura Shrimp and the Tempura green beans with truffle aioli. The freshness of the taquitos go perfectly with the spicy shrimp. And truffle aioli… need I say more?
As you’re going to spend a pretty-penny anyway, go all out and get the Wagyu. As a first-time Wagyu trier, I was apprehensive about the quality matching the cost. It’s served raw on hot rocks and accompanied with three sauces – of which the waiter recommends dipping the meat into the soy sauce before cooking. It did not disappoint. The pork belly is also sublime. Slightly sweet, it falls off the stick and melts in the mouth.
What’s a visit to Sushisamba, without sushi? If you’re not adventurous with your sushi choices, go for the California rolls. A classic roll executed perfectly. Their Samba London rolls containing XYZ are also delicious. There’s also a ‘gluten-concious’ and a vegan menu.
I admit, I don’t usually go for desserts at high-end restaurants (either because the drinks are sufficient enough, or because nothing beats a sticky toffee pudding). However…the Rainforest dessert was an absolute winner. Crushed Oreo-type biscuits with hazelnuts. The chocolate is rich yet doesn’t overshadow the lightness of the dessert. If you’ve overindulged on mains – this won’t tip you over the edge.
To wash it down, having a Tom Yam is a non-negotiable. Named after a Thai soup, it’s no surprise the cocktail bursts with flavours of lemongrass, coriander and chilli. It might sound like you’re slurping soup, but trust me, it’s unbelievable. And is actually the best cocktail I’ve ever had. It’s incredibly fragrant yet easier to drink than a Picante – move over Soho House.
Away from Southeast Asia for a minute and heading to Italy, my guest was speechless when he ordered a Negroni. And considering he’s a hospitality manager who said the concoction was ‘perfect’, it must have been bloody good. After eating copious amounts of food, sip on a citrusy Yuzu to wash it all down.
What’s the damage?
Pretty damaging. Small plates and ceviche average at £15 price point, with samba rolls, nigiri and sashimi ranging from £11 - £28 (though some of these are just for one roll). The Wagyu will set you back an eye-watering £129. But is it worth it? Without a doubt.
Drinks are what you’d expect to find in central London, with cocktail at £15. Wine and champagne is available by the glass or the bottle, starting at £9 for a small glass of Cotes Du Rhone – not bad. If you want to try a Sake, the menu is eight (yes, eight) pages long. Finding one suited to your taste won’t be an issue.
Don’t book a table and expect the bill to come under three figures, but with the quality of the overall experience from start to finish, it’s worth it. Sushisamba lives up to its stellar reputation.
Anything else to note?
Sushisamba offer a separate, smaller menu for Casa De Samba. This includes sushi platters that start at £40. So a cheaper night may be possible if you’re happy to eat after 10pm.
If the view of your choice is the TV and your pyjamas, grab a takeaway from the Covent Garden venue. It’s available seven days a week, 12pm-9:30pm. No need to get dressed, get it delivered via the Supper App. Dreamy.
View on Instagram
Heron Tower, Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY; Sushisamba