The thrills continue at SushiSamba with the unveiling of new menu items.
SushiSamba’s duo of osetra caviars, served with chimichurri rice crisps, black sesame rice crisps, and plantain chips.
Reinvention. It’s a hallmark of the Las Vegas Strip, as restaurateurs are forever searching for the next hot concept to entice visitors. But for successful restaurants, reinvention doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul. Instead, it’s usually enough to tweak the menu that brought them success in the first place. At SushiSamba at the Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Palazzo, Executive Chef Joel Versola and regional corporate sushi chef John Um have recently added a spate of new menu items worth seeking out.
According to Um, the new menu is simply a continuation of the restaurant’s pioneering ways. “Our unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisine is always evolving,” he says, “which gives us the opportunity to explore uncharted territory in the culinary world.” While SushiSamba’s combination of Latin American and Far Eastern ingredients and favors may seem like fusion gone mad, it reflects an authentic food culture, born of the waves of Asian immigrants who found their way to South America throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Since opening in 2008, SushiSamba has transported diners to Carnaval. Brightly painted murals cover the walls, while television screens deliver a constant stream of foreign videos—a festive backdrop for free-flowing drinks, like the guava juice–based Nina Fresa, the refreshing Chucumber (with cucumber and elderfower), and the citrus-forward Lemon Samurai. But don’t let the mirth fool you. Um and Versola are doing some serious cooking in the sushi and samba kitchens, respectively.
Maine lobster is the star of the Samba Strip roll.
SushiSamba favorites like the intensely favored A5 Wagyu gyoza and the buttery sea bass anticuchos continue to delight, while the crispy Hokkaido scallop remains a destination dish. And the cooking becomes interactive with the ishiyaki course, in which diners lightly sear Wagyu beef on superheated stones delivered to the table. But Um and Versola’s new seasonal offerings are destined to become fan favorites as well.
Wasabi is a sushi staple, but the fresh grated wasabi tasting at SushiSamba is unlike any you’ve ever had. A trio of fresh wasabis—a mildly citric yuzu-infused version, an umami-laden miso rendition, and plain—is a welcome departure from the ubiquitous neon-green, powder-derived wasabi at all-you-can-eat sushi joints. Each is so clean and refreshing, you’ll fnd yourself eating it straight long after you’ve devoured your sashimi.
The salmon ceviche mixes salmon with red onion, jalapeño slices, and grapes, fished with a sweet and citric grape-yuzu sauce and creamy coconut milk in a dish hinting of heat. Similarly, in SushiSamba’s salmon tiradito—a traditional Peruvian dish that reflects the Japanese influence on that country’s cuisine—salmon sashimi slices are bathed in a sharp garlic ponzu and adorned with garlic chips and citron honey gelée. Each bite hints of sweetness and citrus without obscuring the seafood favor.
The crispy egg small plate has a nest of asparagus, shiitake, fresh truffle, and kabocha gnocchi.
The more traditional Samba Strip roll swaddles Maine lobster, mango, and avocado in soy paper and decorates it with beet root juice–marinated lotus root chips for a dash of color and texture. The dish is fished with aji honey truffle sauce, with the South American chili pepper contributing a hint of heat. But if you’re looking to roll in style, SushiSamba now offers a duo of osetra caviars: traditional and the nuttier imperial. Served with a mother-of-pearl spoon, the sturgeon roe comes with a trio of nontraditional accompaniments: chimichurri rice crisps, black sesame rice crisps, and plantain chips. So much more exciting than the standard blinis.
From the samba kitchen, the crispy egg wraps a soft poached egg in shredded phyllo reminiscent of a bird’s nest. Perched atop asparagus and slightly sweet kabocha (Japanese squash) gnocchi, it’s fnished with earthy black truffe, sweet onion purée, and an umami-laden truffe soy reduction. The intricate dish is a reminder of the expertise required to seamlessly weave textures and favors, which Um and Versola do so well.
In a city whose restaurant turnover is constant, SushiSamba’s party is just getting started. Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Palazzo, 702-607-0700