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  • Ruari Sutherland

SushiSamba at the W Hotel, Edinburgh

Updated: Jan 10

Japanese doughnuts

The phrase 'fusion cooking' often conjures up images of heavy-handed marriages such as Sichuan Burritos or Haggis Ramen. This couldn't be further from the truth at SushiSamba, which eschews the description - instead describing its menu as a '[robust] blend' and a bringing together of 'culinary inspirations'; as the product of 'a tri-cultural coalition' born of early 20th century migration from Japan to the coffee plantations of South America. 

Whatever you call it, SushiSamba deftly melds ingredients, flavours, and techniques from three distinct cultures - Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian. At first glance, this combination appears incongruous - discordant, even - but in reality, the resulting menu couldn't be more harmonious.

Fresh crisp aperitivos - intense blackened Padron Peppers and Green Bean Tempura with truffle aioli - and a fantastic alcohol-free Saffron-Shiso Caipirinha wake up our palates and whet our appetites for the feast to come. These are snacks as they should be! 

Next, the umami appears in the form of sumptuous Wagyu Beef Gyoza and Peruvian Black Cod Skewers (anticuchos) slathered with miso and charred to perfection over a Japanese robata grill. The latter is served with Peruvian corn - a Marmite option (we love it), which is far larger and chewier than the sweetcorn we're used to.

Salt and Pepper Squid provides deep-fried crunch and pleasantly stinging spice in the form of shichimi before everything is cooled and refreshed by the sharp tang and sea-salty freshness of a vibrant Tuna Pomegranate Ceviche,

Snow Crab California Rolls

Not one to miss out on an eponymous dish, we order Sushi and devour perfectly seasoned Snow Crab California Rolls - bringing the savoury course to a satisfying conclusion. 

As the desert arrives, I realise how ready I am for something sweet. Rarely, I am overly enthused by pudding, but the Banana Chocolate Cake is a real thing of wonder and steals the show for me, whilst the pillowy Sata andagi (Japanese doughnuts) come filled with dulce de leche and surrounded by glistening jewels of sharp red berry coulis and citron ice cream. 

With three cuisines and culinary cultures to choose from, this is a menu which could easily become bloated in an effort to squeeze everything in. Instead, SushiSamba strikes a masterful balance of flavours, textures, and influences - delivering an inventive and exciting menu. All this would be more than enough on its own but served up with panoramic city views from the 10th floor of Edinburgh's W Hotel, SushiSamba should be high on your list of culinary destinations for special occasions. (R. Sutherland)

SushiSamba - James Craig Walk, Edinburgh EH1 3AD

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