It was a long day at work and a cold night in New York City. My tummy needed sustenance and my soul longed for an escape somewhere exotic, someplace…warm! While a spontaneous trip to Latin America was out of the question, albeit tempting, an evening at Sushi Samba was within reach and provided just the escape I needed.

Upon walking through the doors at the Park Avenue South location, I was immediately immersed into a world of color and Latin rhythms. The crowd was polished, energetic, buzzing. Every order, every drink being prepared seemed to move along to the beat of the Bossa nova pumping through the sound system,

I met up with the Grinding NYC crew at the lounge area reserved for us in the back. We started off the evening picking lovely cocktails from Sushi Samba’s signature cocktail tree. Tonight a selection of Japanese chu-hi’s were ripe for the sipping, my favorite being the Chu- Cumber, made with shochu, St. Germain Elderflower, and cucumber.

Shortly after, head chef Fernando Navas joined our party to chat about Sushi Samba’s unique fusion of Japanese, Peruvian, and Brazilian cuisine as well as the food he had prepared for the evening. We began with Shishito, grilled spicy peppers with sea salt and lemon, Portuguese Octopus a la plancha with potatoes confit, aji panca, and botija olives, Yellowtail with jalapeno and lemongrass and the Crispy Taquitos served with fresh lime. These dishes complimented each other beautifully and I highly recommend enjoying them with Sushi Samba’s fantastic Caipirinha.

Perhaps my favorite dish of the evening was Sushi Samba’s creative take on Gunkan, a nigiri sushi dressed in many different ways including the Wagyu, with quail egg yolk, potato paille, and sea salt, the Salmon with ikura and cilantro, theScallop with tobiko and jalapeno, and finally, the Foi Gras, with nashi pear and eel sauce. Never in my wildest dreams would there be Foi Gras wrapped in a nori sheet, but at Sushi Samba anything is possible I suppose.

Finally, we ended the night with a delicious stew of Moqueca Mista, made with shrimp, squid, sea bass, crayfish, coconut milk, roasted cashew, dendê oil, and chimchurri rice. This was perhaps the best moqueca I’ve ever had in New York City. The quality of the ingredients and the sheer beauty of the dish amounted to a sensory explosion.

I look forward to my next visit to Sushi Samba on Park Avenue, perhaps for the Happy Hour Special with $6 bites and $6 cocktails. Who knew such a magical place could exist in Manhattan?

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