Well, once this Nobu knock off was featured on Sex and the City I guess we could have all figured it was downhill from there. SushiSamba’s second location brings us to a very awkward area in Manhattan as it lies on the outskirts of the West Village where it almost begins to become Tribeca/Soho. The space of the restaurant is pretty large with a small dining room and lounge on the first floor and the larger dining room and rooftop bar/lounge on the second floor. The decor is strikingly similar to SushiSamba Park, which quite frankly needs to be renovated, and features the large circular lights on the ceiling and brightly colored banquettes and walls. Though the restaurant must have been impressive when it first opened back in the early 2000s, the decor has not withstood the test of time and can’t hold up to that of its competition (Tao, Nobu and Ajna Bar for example).
The food is mainly Japanese but with a slight Peruvian influence. The menu attempts to put a Spanish spin on most of the cooked food but it really comes across as more of a Pan Asian menu than anything else. Though on this visit I came to SushiSamba to see how the sushi was in comparison to its other restaurant on Park Avenue South. My visits to the Gramercy location have been mediocre at best and I wouldn’t exactly go there unless I were in the area. However, I wouldn’t even go to this SushiSamba in the West Village if I were even in the area. I basically ordered the basics, tuna, yellowtail, salmon just to see how it was and it turns out I am very glad I didn’t order anymore. The fish was not fresh at all, especially the yellowtail, and the rice tasted strongly of vinegar. If SushiSamba can’t even master the basics of a simple tuna roll, why would I return for their more complex specialty rolls.
Though I can not comment on their cooked food, I certainly won’t be returning to SushiSamba for their Japanese food. Though it is reasonably priced for an upscale Japanese restaurant, the food does not even come close to its competitors. The decor is outdated and I wouldn’t exactly come here for the “lounge” atmosphere (the “No hats, boots or sweatpants after 6 PM” sign at the door of the restaurant is a strong indicator of how it is inside at night). Overall, there are much better places to go for if you’re in search of a trendy Japanese restaurant.