My job, safe to say, comes with the opportunity to dine in unusual ways in unusual places. Did I ever expect to be eating chocolate worms and raindrop cake on top of a tree stump under a littering of lush greenery, however? Yep, kind of.
In a city where restaurants consistently push dining boundaries, I wanted to see how an Amazon food experience could stand up to the scene, and there was only one place for it: the Peruvian, jungle-bound confines of SUSHISAMBA in Covent Garden. Both smart and immersive in equal measure, SUSHISAMBA's Central London output is nothing short of extraordinary; ceilings are draped in plants and dining coves are romantic yet involved, as nods to Peru, Brazil and even Japan are touched upon around every corner. Imaginative menu to suit the interiors? Yeah they've got one of those too.
Dining just before the 2020 clock struck meant that we got to enjoy the NYE/Christmas menu in its full glory as SUSHISAMBA put on a special SAMBAZONIA spread. Designing a menu to highlight the fragility of the Amazon, Chefs John Um and Andreas Bollanos pulled out all the stops in a selection of plates inspired by sustainability and their travels alike: think tropical matcha sorbet and raindrop cakes atop ceramic tree trunks, raw tuna with yuca crisp set inside an oversized tin can, a foraged spread of potatoes and vegetables with huancaina, and cocktails flanked by greenery inside delicate terrariums.
While the menu may not be available in its NYE-form anymore? Expect no shortage of Peru-dedicated plates, Japanese flavours and Brazilian beauts in the the shape of tuna ceviche with pomegranate leche de tigre, a samba salad with mango dressing, yuca small plates with a smoke emulsion and extravagant sushi spreads.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Some of the dishes from SUSHISAMBA's SAMBAZONIA menu definitely fell in the bracket of more style over substance (I still cannot rate the use of raindrop cake in restaurants), but the bounty of treasures laid across our table was both unforgettable and magical in equal measure. Do they have what it takes to create a Valentine's day experience remember (think cured salmon maki and pork belly taquitos)? An adventurous dining experience for families and friends alike? I have no doubt about it.
For more great Covent Garden restaurants, check out our guide on where to eat in the area.