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Love sushi and sashimi but your partner or dining companion doesn’t? Here’s a Japanese restaurant with a difference.As the talented chef, David Sears whose pedigree includes Mandarin Oriental said, a point of serious difference  is here you’ll find a fusion of Japanese with Brazilian and Peruvian, their influences showing in the spices and exciting sauces. Another difference is the bright (think tangerine), stylish, fun décor that is meant to conjure up Brazil (did you know the largest community of Japanese outside of Japan is in Brazil?).

It’s the new Sushisamba in the Westin Colonnade, 180 Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables (T.305448-4990) which has the favorites of its popular Lincoln Road mothership, but also with a wood burning oven and the Grill fueled with Japanese charcoal. From the oven comes delicious whole roasted local fish (Hog snapper the night we were there) with asparagus and coconut rice, and roast cauliflower with Campari tomatoes and huancaina sauce (made with yellow pepper and fresh cheese). Following the theme of small plates or “anticuchos”, Peruvian skewers, there’s everything from ribeye anticuchos with peruvian corn, and lamb chops, to fish and vegetables.

Choosing to sit on the spacious outdoor terrace, we started with a taquito of yellowtail, avocado and roasted corn miso, a perfect accompaniment to one of the specialty cocktails.   Next up, fried calamari, not usually one of my favorites. But here, I could have made it a main course. Marinated in milk and coated with cornmeal, fried and served with tamarind sauce , it was tender, crispy and just the right amount of spicy.

Before the main course of fish, we had the assortment of sashimi tiradito . Each was highly original, especially the tuna with granny smith apple, serrano and lime,  and the fish couldn’t have been fresher. We didn’t save room but made room for the Samba Split and so glad we did. It’s an unlikely explosion of tastes and textures with caramelized baby bananas, coconut flan, caramel popcorn, berries and dulce de leche ice cream . Outstanding. In fact, it’s going on my list of the top dishes of 2013, definitely WTC (worth the calories). Small plates run between $9 and $18 and the whole fish is sold according to size and market price. There’s also a specially priced lunch menu with salads and bento boxes priced from $14 to $19.

Photography by William Oberheiser
Sushisamba on Urbanspoon

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