I ate at Sushi Samba for the first time 15 years ago when I first visited NYC as a student. I believe it was located more Uptown then, and it happened to be my first exposure to Japanese-fusion food outside of Japan. I was introduced to this restaurant through one of my father’s friends who was a Japanese businessman working in Manhattan at the time. I was amazed at the creativity and different ingredients that were being used for sushi. Things like beef tataki, avocado, quinoa, jalapeno and cilantro were all new to me as an ingredient of sushi. In fact, my father’s friend said “this is not a sushi restaurant, and I don’t think it will survive”. Because it was so different to what I was familiar with in Japan, I found it difficult to really consider it sushi, but I really enjoyed the food and uniqueness of it.
Fast forward to recently when I came across Sushi Samba in the West Village. I had a flashback to my grad school days and remembered how my dad’s friend predicted this fusion-style sushi (and this particular restaurant) would not last. And clearly he was wrong. I’m sure it has survived because it offers an interesting and unique selection of sushi, has Japanese-style quality, and seems to always offer something new and exciting. I have since introduced Sushi Samba to Japanese friends new to NYC and it is fun to see that they have the same reaction that I did nearly 20 years ago!
In fact, in one summer weekend, I took my friends from Japan to Sushi Samba. We ordered a mix of lots of plates to share at our friendly server recommendation and were thrilled with what we tried. Particularly we enjoyed 4 rolls from Samba Rolls choice – Samba 7 (lobster with lemongrass, tuna, cucumber, creamy sesame, aji panca), Neo Tokyo (bigeye tuna, tempura flake, aji panca), Umami (American wagyu beef, shrimp tempura, avocado, truffle oil) and KARI KARI (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, eel, crab meat, crispy fried rice, kabayaki sauce, wasabi aioli). All my friends were amazed by the fun spin on Japanese cuisine by mixing it with Peruvian and Brazilian flavor.
Price: $10+ for a roll set
Neighborhood: West Village
Dress code: High-end Casual