There’s a famous film called The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which stars Clint Eastwood. This will give you an idea on how this restaurant review is going to go, and no, it doesn’t mean I’m going to announce that I’m becoming the Mayor of Carmel (you better get that reference or I swear to God…), but I am going to be a bit blunt about Sushi Samba…
As a preamble, dining in the sky is a big thing in any major city and London is no exception. In Heron Tower in the City there are two landmark restaurants, Duck & Waffle and Sushi Samba. Sushi Samba features a unique mix of Japanese-Peruvian fusion food and because of its location, outdoor bar (on the 38thfloor) and Wagyu on the menu, it’s a Mecca for celebrities and City boys flashing their cash. I went to Sushi Samba for a late lunch on a Friday before the Bank holiday weekend.
The majority of what we ate was excellent. The lobster taquitos were full of sweet lobster meat, zinging with jalapenõs and bright lime and the taquito shells were corny and crunchy. Delightful. The pork belly robata was a revelation and by far and away the best dish. The belly was excellently cooked and had a great balance between meat and unctuous fat. It was served with Peruvian corn, which was astonishingly good; sweet, salty, crunchy, soft, moreish. Excellent. We also had the Kobe beef sliders which were spliced with nails to hold them together and served on a hot steel girder spattered with mustard sauce. The plating was stunning, like a modern art piece and the flavour was fantastic, intense beef and umami with delicious fat dripping from them. So juicy, so good.
This is just my opinion, but then this is also my blog, so I can say what I like. I didn’t like the Sushi Samba signature dish, the El Topo Samba Roll. It’s made from salmon, jalapeño, shiso leaf, fresh melted mozzarella and crispy onion and it made me feel conflicted. The melted mozzarella is innovative, but it also gives it the feeling of a drunken snack that was dreamed up by a chef after a long, hard shift and one too many sakes. Also, our waitress forgot our order of Wagyu gyoza, but I’ll forgive that given how much we actually ordered, so we certainly didn’t walk out hungry.
Also bad was the initial impression the Sushi Samba bar staff gave me. We arrived and were told to wait at the bar while our table was made ready, no problem. The problem was trying to actually order a drink from the bar. The bar girl looked me dead in the eye as I was at the bar and then walked off. I was then also blanked by the second bar girl. Do they just hate females or are they just ignorant? Either way, that kind of holier-than-thou behaviour irritates me, because it doesn’t matter how trendy the location is, you still just work in a bar, love.
The damn décor needs a facelift. There’s no polite way of saying it but Sushi Samba resembles an aging Hollywood actress who’s been for backstreet Botox and now looks like a cardboard box left in the rain. The bar area inside is knackered, the leather couch and stools are shabby. The bar is chipped and aging, the ceiling looks like its about to fall down and the stairs. My God. The stairs have chevron tape on the back to warn drunk patrons not to smack their heads, which really cheapens the feel of it. The massive chandelier is coated with dust. The banquettes in the restaurant itself are chipped and aging and the windows need a clean. I felt like calling Peter Andre and getting him to do a 60 Minute Makeover on the whole place. What do you say, Pete? Sushi Samba 60 Minute Makeover?
Overall, is Sushi Samba worth it? For the food and views, yes. For the décor and the snobby bar service, no. Also, riding in the lift up to the 38thfloor sober is terrifying, but riding down it after two cocktails and half a bottle of rosé is hilarious fun. The bill came to £198 for two people, five dishes (six if you include edamame beans to start), 3 cocktails, a bottle of rosé and a coffee. This isn’t that bad actually considering some of the prices I’ve paid in London, so I wasn’t unhappy with the prices. Would I go to Sushi Samba again? Yes, but I’d go as a group and at night so I wasn’t so bothered about chipped tables and knackered leather.
Have you been to Sushi Samba? What do you think of my review? Let me know down below in the comments and share on social!
Tiffany from G&J xx