There are three elements that a restaurant needs to become one of my very favourites:
1. A lively and buzzy atmosphere.
2. A room with a view.
3. Really, really good sushi.
There is one restaurant in London that fits my criteria perfectly: SushiSamba. Actually Aqua Kyoto does too but the view isn’t quite so good…
The Japanese / South American fusion restaurant is split across levels 38 and 39 of the Heron Tower, making it officially the 2nd highest restaurant in London and the perfect candidate for the next instalment in my dining at Altitude series. SushiSamba is actually one of my favourite restaurants in London and worldwide, I’ve also visited the New York and Las Vegas branches but London is my favourite. You can’t beat those incredible views, plus it’s where Mr S and I celebrated our engagement together when we were back in London after our trip to Australia.We were a group of five girls heading out for sushi to celebrate my friend’s Francesca’s birthday…as you can imagine we couldn’t contain our excitement to be heading out to one of the most glamorous restaurants in London.The experience really starts as soon as you walk into the lift…
It kind feels like Charlie at the Chocolate factory as you know the ‘Great Glass Elevator’ will be whisking you away to a magical experience.
It’s not for people with the vertigo as the lift is very speedy…
…and in no time you’re 38 floors high.
We started off with drinks in the bar, which really has the most incredible view.
The outdoor terrace, with the now famous tree sculpture is a must visit during summer but, sadly, due to high winds it was closed on the night that we were there.
The dining room itself is just stunning…
A bamboo ceiling hangs above you and the lightbulbs suspended from it made me think of a room full of stars…
But the fabulous panoramic view of London is the real star of the show.
And here are the ladies…from left to right: Leah, Amelia, Alisha, Francesca and me!
Four of used to work together years ago, and Amelia recently introduced us to Leah, who’s quickly become one of the gang.
Now before we move on to the food, I must apologise for the photo quality. As with City Social, the lights are fairly dim in order to showcase the view. In some of the photos I’ve used the flash and in some I haven’t so sorry for the inconsistency.
We were five very hungry ladies so we ordered some nibbles to accompany our champagne while we perused the menu…
Green bean tempura with truffle aioli
And padron peppers…the girls were a little worried about getting a rogue spicy pepper. But I have an asbestos mouth and tend not to worried about these things. The peppers were well charred and the flavour much enhanced by the side of salt.
Needless to say the two plates of nibbles disappeared in about five seconds flat…so we ordered more…
Vegetable tempura with a delicious yuzu soy.
Delicious crispy taquitos with yellowtail, avocado and roast corn miso was accompanied by a delicious spicy sauce which we smothered on.
Shrimp tempura with spicy mayo and black truffle vinaigrette. This dish is one of my top choices at SushiSamba…in fact it was so nice we had it twice 🙂
Wagyu gyoza with a sesame and su-shoyu dipping sauce.
An assortment of ceviches including scallop, tuna and octopus. I just love the way that the fusion cuisine merges the flavours and techniques of Japanese cookery with South American. For me, it’s the perfect combination.
Samba rolls: crab, tuna, salmon, white fish, prawn, scallop, wagyu, tempura, with a wasabi mayo and a soy reduction.
Black cod is one of my favourite dishes and at SushiSamba it is served as skewers prepared over a Japanese charcoal grill and served with Peruvian corn (which I love!)
Shrimp tempura, quinoa, shishito, spicy mayo and red onion.
We were having a fab time!!
But rather sadly, that was when the evening took a slight turn…it may seem like we’d ordered a lot of food but bearing in mind that was between five of us…we hadn’t really had anything substantial, it was more like nibbles and canape sized bites.
We asked if we could order another plate of sushi, but we were told we were due to vacate our table. We asked if we could still order dessert, apparently this was ok but no more sushi. Could we just get the sushi with the dessert? A slight kerfuffle ensued with the manager being fetched…who took around twenty minutes and gave a long explanation about why we couldn’t order more sushi…by which time they could have just bought the sushi.
We had been warned about how long we’d have the table for but it was slightly annoying being expected to leave…it was 11pm and even if more people were coming in after us there were plenty of empty tables. These things do happen but they didn’t handle the situation particularly well and compensation was one more drink each. I don’t like to name and shame but it put a dampener on an otherwise excellent night.
We were however, allowed to order dessert…
With Love from Rio: valhrhona dark chocolate ganache, coffee mousse and tonka bean ice cream.
Passion fruit cake, green tea and white chocolate ganache, raspberry sorbet, coconut tuille, raspberries and passion fruit.
And this delightful plate came out. Assorted mochi with a cute birthday wish. Ok…not quite all was forgiven but they had certainly put the smiles back on our faces.
I totally love SushiSamba so I’ll forget about the slightly negative ending as it was probably just an off day. The food, atmosphere and dining room interior are all superb and despite a few service problems, it’s still one of my favourite places in London.
PS. Lovely blogger, Manasi also visited recently…check out her review here
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