Sushisamba: farcical fun in the clouds

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The whole lead up to our meal at Sushisamba gave an air of exclusivity; the six week wait, the confirmation email, phone calls and finally the entry into Heron tower itself. A faff I can live without but one that annoyingly intrigued me at the same time.

Once past the frosty blonde on the door and after regaining both my balance and hearing (popped ears) after the speedy lift ride up, the atmosphere was thankfully somewhat relaxed. On a bank holiday Monday I was pretty sure we’d be part of a chilled mix of city dwellers and of out-of-towners. And we were. A flock of Middle Eastern Prada parading families and several Sloaney couples but not one baby, except that is, for ours.

Yes, we decided to take baby8cake (what the little monster will affectionately be known as on here, hence forth) in tow, to savour the view and the theatre that is outside dining. We had obviously crossed the line here, a few stares from both diners and staff confirmed that we were doing the unthinkable. Nice one I thought!

Once staff got over our little brat’s presence in their uber exclusive venue, and after much squabbling in front of our table as to who was responsible for which sections (hello, we are sitting right here!) we were presented with our selection of food.

Now there are no surprises as to what you are likely to get at Sushisamba. We’ve all heard about the wave of Peruvian/Japanese/ Brazilian fusion that’s taken our city over by storm, as if we’ve never eaten a plantain chip or consumed raw fish before! Here though, I like the way the menu is laid out and sectioned off by the three thrilling nations involved in this food revolution. So you can easily ensure you get a real taste of it all.

The husband and I opted for five dishes as recommended by at least one helpful member of staff. Apparently most dishes are small plates designed for sharing. I discovered this wasn’t necessarily the case, when the calamari arrived. Though beautifully succulent with a tangy mint and tamarind glaze, it could have done with some portion control and a little less batter. There’s only so much chewing you can do before your jaw locks and I don’t think even two could have polished that off alongside the other dishes.

A seabass ceviche went on to further tantalise the taste buds with a quiet heat provided by the Aji Amarillo peppers, nicely balanced with the citric lime infused tigers milk. The Robata grill we were seated in front of served us up lovely morsels of asparagus (thankfully not at all stringy) and mushrooms in a black pepper and soy glaze. Finally for extra substance in the form of starch, we opted for a veg maki and nigiri selection which perfectly filled what little space was left in our bellies. The little glutinous rolls filled with creamy avocado and all sorts, topped with fiery galangal and wasabi were polished off PDQ, and washed down with a delightful glass of Chateau Musar rose.

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Unfortunately by this point baby8cake started to get a bit antsy and we were quickly running out of toys and our trusty Ella’s kitchen puffits to bribe her with. So dessert was sadly not an option.

All in all some fantastic flavours and of course there’s that stunning view but there’s something about Sushisamba that declares it void of a soul. Perhaps it’s the location, or the bickering and directionless staff. Or perhaps its a little too obvious that this is a chain of restaurants more interested in making money than providing food that feeds the soul.

I’m being very critical here but for me, I’d like to try ceviche from a small independent to compare experiences, as I’m mentally convinced it’ll be all the more enjoyable. Still one to try for the curious amongst us. It’s certainly worth one trip.

Square Meal

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