Sushisamba is the type of place you’d save for a special occasion. When booking a table for four for a Thursday evening just a couple of weeks before Christmas, the reservationist informed me that it was miraculous that a table had just been cancelled and that I could book the spot for 9.30pm. Apparently, no further tables were available until January and bookings tend to be made months in advance. Although initially sceptical about Sushisamba and all the hooh-hah that surrounds it and the views offered from its skyscraper setting on floors 38 and 39 of the Heron Tower, I didn’t want to back out now for this one-time experience. And this was a sort of special occasion for a reunion dinner with long-lost school friends that justified a special destination. Although destination dining is a worrying phrase, I’ve enjoyed it before, particularly at the Oxo Tower brasserie and a drink at the Shard’s Hutong. And my friend joining for me Sushisamba raved about the Duck and Waffle in the same building.
Whizzing up the glass lift is childishly exciting and the view at the top, especially as this was London by night, is rather stomach-flipping. Indeed, Sushisamba is a playground for City boys. Whilst the terrace offers 360 degrees views of the City, the dining room looks east and towards the Olympic Village and you can almost browse workers’ emails in the Gherkin opposite. The restaurant has a double-height glasshouse, with magnificent bamboo-lattice ceiling. Although we didn’t have a table until 9.30pm, we enjoyed a cocktail or two to take in the surrounding, opposite the beautifully lit up Christmas tree on the terrace.
As its name suggests, Sushisamba is a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian influences. This tri-cultural coalition is reflected in the menu, which combines traditions and innovation. There are two kitchens: the Samba kitchen, serving Japanese-influenced South American cuisine, and the Sushi Bar, offering classic sushi and sashimi and Samba-inspired seviches, tiraditos and rolls. Our waiter helped us to decipher the menu’s terms like “tiradito”, “taquito”, “moqueca” and “chicharrons”. The menu is divided into Small Plates, Raw, the Robata grill, Samba rolls and Nigiri and Sashimi. And luckily for me, there was a vegan menu.
Like the view, the food was visually stunning. With smallish plates we ordered a selection to share. First up, were the Edamame soybeans (£5.00), which were deliciously moreish and covered with lime and volcanic salt which puts rocky sea salt on a new level.
We also ordered the Green bean tempura (£7.00), which are crunchy green beans in a light tempura batter, served with a black truffle aioli. The aioli was creamy with light garlic flavours and decadent black truffle.
We couldn’t resist sharing the Nigiri and Maki vege selection (£12), served with quintessentially Asian ginger, and the signature Samba salad (£15) of baby spinach, grilled kabocha, truffle ponzu, shavings of heritage carrot and radish, and apple and mango dressing. Although only very lightly dressed, the salad was bursting with flavour.
Like the setting, the prices are high here. Like all cosmopolitan cities, you pay for elevation. Lofty restaurants twinkle above most major cities, looming over Bangkok, Sydney or Hong Kong. London isn’t over-blessed with them. Sushisamba fills this role. The real star of Sushisamba isn’t so much the food or service, but London.
Sushi Samba, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY