Sushi Samba (A Review)

Coral Gables Restaurant Week (CGRW), like Miami Spice, is something that I look forward to every year.  Restaurants will offer a  3-course menu at a fixed price per person, which is usually a decent discount from ordering the menu items a la carte.  Therefore, my usual strategy is to seek out the restaurants that I probably wouldn’t be able to afford on a regular day to try out.  This year brought me to SushiSamba, a nifty restaurant that offers food that is inspired by Peruvian, Japanese, and Brazilian cuisines.

Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera, and was stuck relying on my phone for pictures.

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Like most places that offer sushi, the sushi bar is clearly visible from the dining room.

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However, the rest of the kitchen was also open.  This was good for most, but I can foresee some disadvantages with gluttonous patrons like myself.  If you’ve ever stared at an open kitchen when there is a plate of food waiting to be picked up that you are almost absolutely certain is for your table, then you know what I am talking about.

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I chose the salmon tiradito for my appetizer.  The salmon was incredibly fresh.  It was topped with yuzu, ginger, and pepper.  It was fresh, tangy, and spicy all at the same time.  That is quite a feat for such a small bite.
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One of the guests ordered the sea bass fritters.  It was basically a ball of fish, rice, and cheese that they fried and topped with more cheese.  The crust was extra crispy, just the way I like it, and the middle was deliciously hot and gooey.  I almost regretted not ordering these for myself.  I almost ordered an extra serving, but stopped myself to wait for my entrée.

CAM00951My entrée was the Ribeye Tobanyaki.  Toban Yaki is a method of cooking in which the food is roasted on a ceramic plate, which retains heat long after the food has been removed from the heat source.  It arrived sizzling to my table.  The ribeye, sliced and cooked to a perfect medium temperature, was on a bed of mushrooms and house-made croutons.  The poached egg for very unnecessary on the plate (says the woman who dislikes eggs), and relinquished to one of my companions.  Otherwise, this dish was absolute perfection.  The mushrooms were tender, but not mushy.  The croutons soaked up the pool of juices that were beneath the meat, softening them up enough to enjoy them in savory bites.

Once I finished my entrée, there was still a pool of that meat juice sitting on my ceramic plate.  Rather than let it go to waste, we ordered an extra side of quinoa chaufa (Peruvian-style fried rice) with chicken.  I resisted the attempts by the bussers to clear my plate, intent on using the meat drippings to soak my chaufa in.

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As you can see, this combination was so spectacularly delicious that I didn’t even remember to stop and take a photo until after the chaufa was decimated.  It didn’t even stand a chance.

Dessert was the last course.  Half of us ordered Picarones (Peruvian donuts), while the other half ordered mochi (Japanese rice cakes pounded and filled with ice cream).
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The Picarones were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with a side of cream cheese icing, which is nothing like the presentation that I am accustomed to when I have eaten them in the past.  To be honest, I missed the cane syrup.  The mochi were well-received by everyone at the table.  It was my first time every trying mochi, so I have nothing to compare them to.  I forget what the pink ones were, but the white ones were lychee.  I had never tried lychee ice cream before, but I hope I get to have some again someday.

The service was excellent.  If I were to have one complaint, it would be that the service was a little bit TOO good.  The restaurant staff were all too eager to clear dishes off of the table, and we had to carefully guard our plates if we weren’t done with them.  I highly recommend trying Sushi Samba.  They might even be worth paying full price for.

For more information on Sushi Samba, visit their website at http://sushisamba.com/

UPDATE: 3/29/2017: The Coral Gables location of Sushi Samba is permanently closed

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