Sushi Samba – The Exception to the Rule

Sushi Samba. The name sounds simply ridiculous – like some strange Japanese cartoon character that Disney has backpacking through Brazil looking for her fish who lost a fin…
But the food is no joke.
Bright, bustling and chic, Sushi Samba had a true mix of locals and tourists of all ages. It still seemed a little bit too cool and gimmicky for me – sushi and Brazilian food?  But the waitress was super friendly and the menu really did seem sort of intriguing…

And when the sparkling wine I ordered came with a strawberry, I was sold. Strawberries and champagne (or sparkling wine…even sparkling wine that is a little TOO sweet, like this one) is just a divine combination. The strawberry just brings out the champagne’s sweetness, and the champagne’s dry edges make the strawberry taste deeper and more earthy.

My date, Sarah, and I ordered the seabass and miso anticucho to start with. Anticuchos are like Brazilian shish kebabs, except these were served with a sweet miso glaze. They are served with Peruvian corn – think corn on steroids and massive butter injections.
The meal was off to a great start. The fish was moist, mild and covered with a sweet and salty glaze that was just perfection. The corn was buttery, toothsome and hearty and really played well off that delicate fish. So far…Sushi Samba was kinda rockin it.
We next got the Kobe beef gyoza, with kabocha puree, because, if there is a dumpling on a menu, you have to order it.
Like voting, it is your duty and your privilege to order dumplings.
These were good, but not great (somewhat like the incredibly inept picture above). They were beefy, a little onion-y, a bit ginger-y, but no flavors really popped. Nothing said wow. And there was really no reason to use Kobe beef in this preparation – any fatty, sweet flavor of the meat was obscured by the other spices. The dumpling skin was a little thick for my tastes, and though the kabocha squash puree was nice, it didn’t seem to meld with the rest of the dish. Don’t get me wrong – for $10, this would have been a great plate of dumplings. But for nearly twice that much, it just didn’t measure up.
We then got some sushi rolls. From the left:
Samba 7 Roll crispy lobster, scallion, cucumber, celery, jalapeƱo, wasabi-chimichurri dipping sauce-this was DELISH! The lobster was fresh, sweet and tender underneath its crispy coating. The jalapeno added a gentle heat and the celery and scallion added lightness and an umami kick, respectively. The dipping sauce was toocreamy for my personal tastes, but the rice was well made and the tempura claw and tail they give you are very much appreciated. Gold star for this one!

Inca-salmon tataki, snow crab, romaine lettuce, caper mustard
Excellent-fresh, fatty salmon, sweet, clean crab, and the caper-mustard mayonnaise was a refreshing and welcome addition to the dish.
This was a pretty awesome meal, I have to say! I would go back for more of the anticuchos – they have one with foie gras, so I REALLY am dying to go for THAT.  Though the gyoza were disappointing, the sushi was so great that I would love to go try some more rolls there. This is not about the kind of minimalist, exquisitely formed, omakase sushi that I especially love. This is the kind of sushi that is wild and crazy and I love anyway.
Because…when you get down to it…how do you not love a place called Sushi Samba?

Comments

  1. JustinM says:

    They said her fish was gone, lost to a harpooner off the coast of Rio… but she knows the truth and she will not stop. Swim along for the ride of your life… with Sushi Samba.

    (PS unlike voting I am pleased 99% of the time with the results of ordering gyoza.)

  2. Sarah says:

    Such a lovely and delish date night! Who knew Sushi Samba wasn't a tourist trap? We have to go back asap xo

  3. SUSHISAMBA says:

    SUPER CUTE name for a blog – btw, I tweeted it from the SUSHISAMBA handle (Chicago)

    http://www.twitter.com/sushisambachi

  4. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Justin – dude, how I SO agree with you on both points!
    @Sarah – yes we do!! xoxo!!
    @Sushi Samba-thanks for the tweet!!!

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