SushiSamba is officially on its way to the UAE. As one of the most popular high-end restaurants in cities from London and Miami to Las Vegas and Amsterdam, will get in on Dubai's busy high-end culinary scene when it opens next year. The emirate's branch is set to launch in The Palm Tower, 220 metres above the world-famous Palm Jumeirah.
Choosing the location came down entirely to the building's vista, SushiSamba's chief operating officer, Omar Gutierrez, tells The National. "The view is spectacular … I had been relying on renderings, but they didn't do it justice," he says. "I don't think you can get a better view of this city unless you parachute down."
The plan to bring SushiSamba to the Middle East is not new, but there was a matter of waiting for the right time and the right place before opening its doors. "As a company, we had been looking to do this project in Dubai for four or five years," Gutierrez says. "We came close to a couple of different areas and locations, but didn't tick all of the boxes with any of them."
The restaurant will be located on the 51st floor, with the infinity pool deck of the tower found on the floor below. The building, which is still under construction, will have a 289-room St Regis hotel, 432 luxury residences and a host of recreational facilities when it opens.
We're very confident on how it's going to perform," Gutierrez says. "We think it will compete with what we have been able to establish in London and really solidify our presence in this part of the world." SushiSamba has partnered with Sunset Hospitality Group for the Dubai launch.
"I think the reason why we are so bullish on this region is because we have realised that a significant part of our business in London comes from this part of the world," he says. "The reason why the brand resonates is because it is a multi-sensory experience; it's not only the cuisine, it's the ambience, art, music and energy."
He says that although the Dubai restaurant will have its own distinct style in terms of views, atmosphere and feel, it will be most comparable to the SushiSamba at London's 110 Bishopsgate (formerly known as Heron Tower).
Local touches on the menu
The Dubai outlet will offer SushiSamba's blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian "cuisine, culture, music and design", as well as views of the Dubai skyline from its tower-top vantage point. Seasoned SushiSamba diners will be happy to know the menu will feature 70 per cent of the eatery's favourites from its Las Vegas, London and Amsterdam branches. The chef, who has yet to be confirmed, will also have a little scope for regional creativity.
Can we expect to see regional influences on the menu? "If it tastes good!" Gutierrez says.
"Ultimately, we give the chefs plenty of flexibility to work on dishes and run specials … but if something is going to go on the menu permanently, we have a process, it goes through several tastings and takes in everybody's feedback.
When everyone agrees that the presentation is right and the flavour is right, and that it’s not off brand, then it goes on the menu.”
Regardless, Gutierrez tells us to expect to see local ingredients on the menu. "To keep the quality where it needs to be, we need to find a way to incorporate locally sourced produce and supplies," he says. "Dubai is a world-renowned culinary destination, so I don't think we'll have any problems getting quality ingredients."
Dubai's brunch bunch will also be happy to learn that a Friday or Saturday offering is firmly on the cards. "Friday and Saturday brunch is definitely on our agenda," he says. "When we designed the restaurant we were conscious of how we incorporate that brunch feel … we don't want it to feel like an afterthought."