I love the states. Not just because of the food. Ok, maybe food is part of it. A big part of it. You’re so incredibly spoilt for choice, there’s always something new around every corner! So much food, so little time. Bagels and pretzels aren’t as big here in Australia so I totally capitalised on the endless supply they had there, though I feel the need to emphasise the sheer amount of cinnamon sugar slathered onto the pretzel (but it tasted so good).
Now that I’m back in Australia, I’ve had an entire 15 hour flight as well as a six hour flight delay to decide on my favourite restaurant.
I think I’ll have to go with Sushi Samba in Las Vegas.
After a very long walk – these casino hotels just never end – we finally glimpsed the restaurant behind the pink and purple of Victoria’s Secret, down another very long stretch of shopping centre. The place was buzzing - music blasting, shimmery dresses, everything I loved about Vegas.
Sushi Samba is located inside the Venetian/Palazzo hotels. Technically it’s in the Palazzo part, at the Palazzo shops, but you can just as easily walk across from the Venetian. Disclaimer: You may very possibly get lost numerous times on the way there and end up at some far corner of the complex.
The atmosphere is amazing: upbeat, modern, sophisticated. Bright coloured lights swirl across the ceiling, screens alternating between the beaches of Brazil and the old geisha districts of Japan. Those countries weren’t picked by accident if you were wondering, the food at Sushi Samba is a lovely fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian culinary influences, resulting in a spectacular blend of flavours.
The service was excellent, the menu recommendations by our server were spot-on, and there wasn’t a single item we were disappointed in.
Sawagani flash fried japanese river crabs $12.00
We started off with these tiny critters. These were the size of a fifty cent piece, almost like hermit crabs, eaten whole. They were crispy, with a salty crunchiness to them. Reminded me of potato chips. I was very conscious that I was putting a whole crab into my mouth and the fact that the shell didn’t look very soft. They weren’t my favourite, but the sawagani is definitely worth a try just because they’re so unique.
assortment of four $35.00
Yellowtail ginger, garlic, soy $14.00
Salmon asparagus, red radish, pineapple, lime $13.00
Tuna grapefruit juice, jalapeño, almond $14.00
Jumbo Shrimp passion fruit, cucumber, cilantro $14.00
Lobster mango, red bell pepper, heart of palm MP
Yellowtail jalapeño and lemongrass $14.00
Kanpachi yuzu, sea salt, black truffle oil $17.00
Tuna granny smith apple, serrano, lime $14.00
Salmon orange and mustard miso $12.00
This came next. Now i’m not sure which of the above the four are except for the green apple tuna one (the waiters explanation kind of got lost in the music and I was too busy looking at the food), but this is sashimi taken to a whole new level. The natural textures and flavours of the fresh fish were accentuated with various degrees of sweet and sour dressings. Pure heaven.
Berkshire Pork Gyoza kabocha pumpkin purée and su-shoyu dipping sauce $14.00
The warm sweet sauce was perfect after the icy cold citrus tang from the sashimi. The dumpling was moist and chewy, topped off with the tasty pork filling and a salty dipping sauce.
Samba strip Roll maine lobster, mango, tomato, chive, crispy rice, soy paper, peanut curry $19.00
I have had my fair share of good sushi…and terrible sushi. This was great sushi. The freshness of the seafood here again came into play, and the lobster and mango formed such a delightful combination (i’ll admit that any sushi with mango in it gets a thumb up from me). The tangy chilli warm peanut curry sauce and the crispy exterior sealed the deal. There is nothing I love more than warm, crispy sushi.
anticuchos two skewers served with peruvian corn
Sea Bass and Miso $16.00
The texture of the Chilean sea bass is just so melt-in-your-mouth tender and succulent that I don’t think I was ever disappointed with a sea bass dish during my trip. Sushi Samba, however, did it the best. By far. The delicate pieces of fish were presented on skewers, sauce drizzled on top. I guess half of it is that they leave you craving more. The rest of the dish consisted of peruvian corn which is five times the size of normal corn. It was also sweeter and more powdery than the corn I’m used to, think sweet potatoes but not really.
Ishi Yaki hot stone, dipping sauces, vegetables 5oz min
grade A5 $27.00 oz
Now, if you’re a fan of wagyu beef, this is a must-try. The quality of the beef and the intricate process of adding the spices and sauces (which your server will demonstrate, it’s actually a 6 step process to cook each piece – involving sesame oil, black and white sesame, sea salt and a range of other sauces) culminate in an emulsion of distinct flavours…and a phenomenal taste. The meat is cooked on a hot stone and I couldn’t get over the novelty of it. Halfway through our server brought us a second stone because he thought that our original one wasn’t flat enough and was a hassle to cook on.
Berkshire Porkbelly Ramen spicy lemongrass broth, bok choy, bean sprout, cilantro, cancha $18.00
We were so impressed with what we’d ordered that we decided to try the porkbelly ramen. This did not disappoint, pieces of pork belly complete with the crispy skin and the melty fatty bits in a sour soup base.
I guess I have my excuse for a return visit to Vegas.
Ambience: 9 (note that if a quiet dinner is what you’re looking for, you may want to give this one a miss – but if you’re up for some excitement, this place is excellent)
3327 Las Vegas Blvd,
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 607 0700