While on my annual pilgrimage to Miami Swim Fashion Week I was fortunate enough to eat an amazing lunch at Sushi Samba. The restaurant is located at 180 Aragon Avenue in The Westin Colonnade Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida 33134 (on the corner of Aragon Ave and Ponce de Leon Blvd). The energy and atmosphere are bright, alive with Miami orange. My party and I were greeted by two beautiful hostesses who were dressed in this inviting color.
The grandiose interior consists of a lounge, an indoor and outdoor bar, alfresco dining and the first robata grill and outdoor bar in the area. But the greatest assets of this restaurant are its menus, which are a mix of new and signature dishes with an emphasis on piquant flavors, the finest ingredients and artful presentations.
The appetizers were introduced: Edamame - steamed soy beans topped with a pinch of sea salt; green beans tempura with black truffle aioli; indigenous to Japan, shishito grilled spicy peppers, sprinkled with sea salt and burned lemon. One out of every 12 of these peppers are expected to be medium to spicy, otherwise quite mild, the waiter tells us.
Following, we received Crispy Taquitos served with spicy aji panca sauce and fresh lime. The taco shells were crunchy, the fish fresh and very tasty; the accents added to the tantamount blend of flavors.
Exotic enough - Tuna Tataki, or Tuna Ceviche, made with white asparagus, fresh heart of palm, avocado, tatsoi, crispy garlic, raw cooked in citrus and served on a coconut quarter shell - was brought over as we gasped in amazement.
One thing I noticed when I arrived was a crab cage. As I was wondering what that was, we met the manager, Maximiliano Silva, a very knowledgeable and friendly gentleman who made suggestions based on our appetite and taste buds. One of the recommendations was that the above mentioned crabs would be fried, salted and fashioned into crunchy bites (called Sawagani). He told us all this while gently fondling the little crustaceans in a glass bowl. We gave that a go, loved it and couldn’t help noticing the taste resemblance to potato chips. They were crunchy, salty and delicious and I could still tell people that I had crabs for lunch.
Next came the terribly delicious Gyoza pan seared dumplings
I was thirsty after this and ordered a guava beverage which turned out to be the most refreshing and sweet-but-not-too-sweet, fruity and full of amazing unique flavors drink I can remember having.
To follow, Chicharron De Calamar, or the best scallops I’ve tasted in a good while; not only presented beautifully as you can see in the photo above but seasoned perfectly, amazingly fresh and with the accent of sausage, I thought. This maybe from the combination of fried plantain, pico de gallo, mint and tamarind. It certainly made for a very filling and satisfying appetizer which could've been a meal in itself .
Of course we had sake and were offered a variety of choices brought over in individual bottles unlike the typical sake that I've received at sushi restaurants in Los Angeles, where it is served in a generic black sake vessel. I chose the Moon on the Water sake (Fukujo).
Now it was time to bring out the amazing Japanese Wagyu, the caviar of beef. To make it so, cows are fed a very strict diet of grains and beer and are massaged daily - is why the marbelization of the beef is very high - and voila, the meat literally melts in your mouth. We choose Japanese A5 Wagyu Beef Gyoza with kabocha purée and su-shoyu dipping sauce, served with quinoa chaufa, which is a Peruvian fried quinoa (but inspired from the cuisine of local Chinese immigrants). The preparing method is the Ishisaki - a riverstone is heated thoroughly, then the meat is placed on that stone to sear. The Wagyu is sliced thinly, then we cook it to our hearts desire at the table, on the stone. An array of mouth watering sauces co-stared in this table side show. Not only did the description and menu make it sound spectacular, not only did it looked spectacular but it truly tasted amazing and looking back at my photos I can still feel the pleasure I had when first placing this perfectly cooked, perfectly grilled, perfectly seasoned piece of meat on my tongue. The little accents of specialty salt and seasonings along with the lime really made the taste like no other blend of flavors; char and meat did just melt in my mouth.
You'd have thought we'd be done by now but next came an excellent dessert. The only gluten free dessert on the menu: Peach Tiradito, made with coconut-lime sorbet, white peach tuile (white peaches, pureed with sugar water) (sliced, blanched peaches in peach dressing), mint and pepper added as finish, five spice. A true delight - and trust me on this, I am the most exigent of judges when it comes to gluten free desserts!
Sushi Samba was indeed a unique experience. The very friendly staff along with very delicious unique flavors, textures and presentation of unforgettable food give me no other choice than to enthusiastically recommend this original restaurant and promise to pay them a visit next time I am in South Florida.
Brian Nasajon, Executive Chef:
“My goal is to introduce a different perspective on food, while maintaining the integrity of the brand.”
phone | reservations
305.448.4990, fax 305.448.4992
or please visit the website of Sushi Samba in Coral Gables
SushiSamba is currently open during the following hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 7am – 12am
Friday – Saturday: 7am – 1am
Breakfast: 7am – 11am
Lunch: 11am – 5pm
Dinner: 5pm – closing
All photos by Lawrence Davis