Monday, January 19, 2009

Sushi Samba Strip, Las Vegas

I recently decided to stop at Las Vegas’ Sushi Samba Strip (located in The Shoppes at The Palazzo) for a final meal before hitting the road for the long drive back to L.A. Just like I discovered at Sushi Samba Dromo in Miami, the menu slightly varied from those of their sister restaurants in other states. In Las Vegas, for example, the Samba Dromo Roll was called the Samba Strip Roll—but spicy sesame crema replaced the red curry, and mango was missing in this version. And in the tiraditos here, Granny Smith apple, serrano and lime did the flavoring of the tuna, while orange and mustard miso enhanced the salmon.

Latin touches pervade the ambience, which pulsates with South American beats and vibrant colors. Even the glass case which displays the raw fish is bordered with fresh cilantro, not lettuce or fake plastic grass like at chintzy sushi dives.

As usual, I craved the rolls. My first choice—the Pacific, with king crab, avocado, and Asian pear with wasabi-avocado crema—was good but actually paled in comparison to my second selection, a roll known as BoBo Brazil, which has seared kobe beef, avocado, sprouts, mint leaves, red onions, chimichurri, and farofa, a Brazilian spice made of toasted manioc flour. The unraveling green halos on top looked to be jalapeno slices or green onions at first—until the waitress explained it was chopped shishitos, which are mini Japanese green peppers. Being a tad bitter in taste, shishitos balanced the sweet kobe beef just right. In fact, there were so many different flavors, I hardly noticed the mint leaves inside, an indication that once again, all the flavors have fused without discord.

The waitress sang praises of her favorite, the El Topo, which in the menu is not described as a baked roll, merely reads salmon, jalapeno, shiso leaf, fresh melted mozzarella and crispy onion. I was about to burst, but I rationalized, One for the road…it’s a long drive (further proof of my addiction). It turns out, the BoBo Brazil still beat them all in the end. Although too pizza-like, with the crispy onions being dry, fried wonton noodle-like things on top, the El Topo still isn’t bad—the spiciness makes you decide you love it after all.

Presently, Sushi Samba has two locations in New York, and one in Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas. Visit their website at

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