Floors 38 & 39, Heron Tower
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Wed Aug 15 2012
It’s a long way to the top – around 175 metres, straight up the side of the Heron Tower, the City’s tallest building. Yet you can reach this in just a few exhilarating seconds in a glass lift that gives you amazing panoramic, if vertiginous, views. This lift is for Sushisamba customers only, which explains the checking-in procedure at the street entrance – if they didn’t screen visitors, the lift would be perpetually filled with sightseers and joyriders.
The views from the top are no less impressive, not least the vistas from the interconnected glass-walled bars on floors 38 and 39. You look down on to Tower Bridge, the snake of the Thames, St Paul’s, but most of all on the Gherkin, which seems almost close enough to leap to. I’ve not seen a better aerial view of London, not even from a plane. There are also a couple of outdoor terrace bars, but the one with the most spectacular views was only available to VIPs or for restaurant diners to stroll out onto.
With the views and the fairground-ride of an entrance, it’s easy to forget that Sushisamba is also a restaurant that likes to be taken seriously. The prices clearly indicate this. Anyone who has been to Brazil will balk at spending £28 for a small casserole dish of moqueca, the tomato and seafood stew that’s studded with prawns, clams and mussels and made with palm oil in this Bahian-style version. But many of the other dishes are so unusual they live up to the juxtaposed Sushisamba name.
The conceit of US-born Sushisamba is that it mixes the cuisines of Brazil, Peru and Japan, which isn’t as implausible as it might sound, as both Peru and Brazil have substantial Japanese communities. The chef, we’re told, ‘has visited’ South America and Japan… But dishes such as the ceviche – raw seafood marinated in citrus juices and chilli – were well-made with good attention to detail, down to little carved balls of sweet potato flavoured with star anise. Some elements of dishes were so inventive, we had no idea what we were eating. One dip that came with the giant-sized Peruvian corn, broad beans and corn tamales was dark maroon; our well-informed waiter told us this mystery dip was coloured with chicha morada, a Peruvian drink made from purple corn.
Other dishes were more Japanese in flavour, such as the robata-grilled eggplant, based on the miso-topped Japanese dish called nasu dengaku. The sushi and sashimi are near London’s dearest at around £2 per mouthful.
On our three visits we found the greeters and bar staff willing, but a little overwhelmed by the amount of people. Table service in the restaurant, however, was gracious and professional, with top marks to our sommelier for correctly establishing our level of interest and knowledge of saké, before talking us through the well-chosen selection by the glass.
Sushisamba is a blast, with adventurous dishes and bright, fun design that can only be eclipsed by its eyrie-like views. But if you can afford the Christian Louboutins or statement watches that many of the conspicuously wealthy here choose to flash, then maybe £150 or more for dinner for two doesn’t seem too dear after all. If that’s too much, then you can always just visit the bars – for the time being, you don’t need a booking for these, and you still get the best views.
Sushisamba Floors 38 & 39, Heron Tower
020 3640 7330
- Opening hours:
Lunch served 11.30am-2.30pm, dinner served 5.30-11pm daily
Tube: Liverpool Street tube/rail
Main courses £4-£24
- Floors 38 & 39, Heron Tower
- 020 3640 7330
- Floors 38 & 39, Heron Tower
Food and drink