By Kevin Canessa Jr.
NEW YORK CITY –
If you’re a fan of sushi — but don’t like being limited to just sushi when you go out to eat — Sushi Samba in New York City’s West Village is the place to go. Better yet, if you like a mix of Brazilian and Peruvian food, you’re going to fall in love with Sushi Samba quicker than you could imagine.
The first Sushi Samba opened in New York City in 2000, when one of the owners, a frequent visitor to Sao Paolo, Brazil learned that Sao Paolo had the largest concentration of Japanese people outside Japan, according to the restaurant’s general manager Joe Ofmani. Back then, the owner decided he wanted to fuse a love for sushi with the incredible cuisines of Brazil and Peru.
And from there, things took off.
There are now other locations in London, Las Vegas, South Beach Miami and Coral Gables, Fla. (home to the University of Miami).
Dining at any of the locations, but most notably in New York, is like nothing you’ll experience elsewhere, Ofmani says.
“And that’s because we like people to really enjoy the whole experience at Sushi Samba,” Ofmani said. “We want our guests to experience the menu and the atmosphere. We ask our guests what they like and don’t like. So what ultimately happens is our diners will enjoy sushi and hot food together.”
Ofmani says the concept at Sushi Samba is to “share a little of a lot of food.”
“It’s family style,” he said. “And our patrons really enjoy it that way.”
But it’s hardly just the food that contributes to the whole experience at Sushi Samba. Every Friday and Saturday night, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., there’s a DJ on hand to play what Ofmani calls “Samba House” music.
“There’s a lot of drum and bass sounds,” Ofmani said. “It really contributes to a great atmosphere.”
That atmosphere is spread over two entire floors, as well.
There’s a huge dining area that includes an incredibly big bar (see above photos). And, the second floor includes a completely outdoor dining experience with New York City views.
“If the weather is good, it’s a great way to experience Sushi Samba,” Ofmani said.
Ofmani says there are two happy hours at Sushi Samba every day of the week except Saturdays. The first is from 4 to 7 p.m., and the second is from 11 p.m. until closing. There are a lot of drink specials — and that includes the city’s largest selection of the Japanese drink sake.
Sake is made from fermented rice, Ofmani says, and its creation process is similar to the preparation of beer.
“We pair it with the types of food people decide to order,” Ofmani said. “It’s a lot like how wine is paired with different foods. There are many kinds to choose from.”
So just how good is Sushi Samba?
Lots of celebrities have dined there over the years.
You never know if you’ll bump into former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, or Jamie Foxx, Alyssa Milano, Willow Smith, Lindsay Lohan — or a host of others who have repeatedly returned to the restaurant.
And, not too long ago, chefs from the restaurant appeared on “Good Day New York” with Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto.
So if you’re looking for a great meal and want the entire New York City experience, give Sushi Samba a try. Chances are by the time you get home, you’ll be stuffed and planning another visit to the place in the not-too-distant future.