My first attempt at dining at Rome’s new Brazilian style Japanese cocktail and sushi bar, Sambamaki didn’t go too well.
I headed over with a friend for a 10:30pm booking on a Monday night (US and Australian readers you read right) and we were impressed by the word go!
By the funky venue, the look of the plates coming out of the kitchen (and the smell!) and the cocktails we sampled on arrival.
Yes, the crowd seemed a little pretentious, but I thought to myself, who cares!? After all, my passionfruit sake cocktail (a Sakeirinha – Caipirinha made with sake instead of Cachaça) was to die for and I love trying new things out.
Cut to 45 minutes later and we still hadn’t been seated. There was no sign of a table being ready anytime soon either. So we left. And truth be told, with a little smoke coming out of our ears!
But that oh-so-good cocktail and groovy samba rhythms somehow lured us back this week.
Sambamaki is the first of Eduardo Inoue’s famous and award-winning Brazilian chain of temaki and sake bars in Europe.
At this outpost, Ricardo Takamitsu is the chef. Born to a Japanese mother and Brazilian father he has perfected his craft for this fusion cuisine in both Sao Paolo and Tokyo.
Sambamaki brings together the fundamentals of Japanese cuisine with the colours and flamboyancy of Brazil.
And it’s not a new concept. What I didn’t know was that Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan and therefore this melding of flavors has evolved over a 100 year period.
Here’s what we feasted on:
Ceviche(so fantastic, there was a ceviche encore!): Raw cured white fish served with a juice of lemon spices, chilli, croutons and tobiko
Atum Piccante: Temaki with spicy tuna, mayonnaise, chives and tobiko
Temaki’n Rio*: Salmon tartare, salmon roe and furikake seasoning topped with 2 tempura fried prawns
Gyoza – prawn dumplings
Caranguejo Rei: Soft shell crab sushi rolls with tobiko, chives, avocado and mayonnaise, wrapped in sea bass & Ipanema: Prawn tempura sushi rolls with tobiko, surimi, mixed lettuce, house specialty sauce and avocado
Passionfruit creme brûlée
Sambamaki is located in the Piazza Bologna area, already dotted with many (some not great!) Japanese restaurants and, although it’s more expensive than (the already expensive by Italian standards) average Japanese, I think it will give prove worthy competition.
An average meal (with 5-6 menu share items, dessert and a cocktail) will set you back about €50.
If just for that ceviche and passionfruit Sakeirinha cocktail, I’m going back as soon as possible.
So I guess, like with everything in life, you should always give things a second chance!
Sambamaki: it was touch and go for us for a little, but I think we can be friends.
Signing off from Trastevere,