Bibendum Times recently chatted with S Rafael Cabezas Castro, Sommelier at SUSHISAMBA about some of the challenges, and surprises, they found after their first few months after opening.
SUSHISAMBA is a sensation Stateside, with their Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian cuisine and music with locations from New York to Las Vegas. Three months ago, SUSHISAMBA opened up their first restaurant in London. On the 38th and 39th floor of the Heron Tower in The City, it has breathtaking panoramic views over London. The 1,247-square-metre space, including two outdoor terraces, fills up during the week: the restaurant alone turns over 350 people a day on bookings with up to 600 to 700 on Thursday nights, one of the busiest nights of the week. The food is good, the drinks are celebrationary, the vibe is fun and inviting – with great staff. Rafael gives us the lowdown on SUSHISAMBA:
What are some of the challenges for the sommeliers at SUSHISAMBA?
The menu features a mix of cuisines from Brazil, Peru and Japan. There are both traditional dishes and fusions unique to SUSHISAMBA. It is unique for a sommelier; customers are jumping between sake and wine but the cuisine is very versatile. Customers can go from Brazilian food to sushi and back to Brazilian food in one night so we have to be versatile.
After 3 months, what has been better than expected?
It has been very busy from the moment it opened. The food and wine with the view is a killer combination. It kills everyone (who comes into the restaurant) – you don’t have to book in for a view like this, unlike the Shard.
What are the most popular drinks?
Mojito, sake and pisco are very popular. Every wine is available by the glass – we don’t have one particular wine that we focus on.
How did you prepare the staff before opening?
We have 200 staff and employed the majority one month before we opened. We did a lot of training with sessions every day. Staff were trained in cocktails, sake and wine. Josh Butler (Bibendum’s London Account Manager – West End and City) did sessions four days a week for 3 weeks to ensure all the staff were ready to begin with confidence.
What has surprised you about SUSHISAMBA?
At the beginning, for me, it was a shock to see people spending £400 on a bottle of sake. Also, the customers have very good knowledge of sake. They know the difference between warm and cold Sake, refined and unrefined Sake. The approach we have to take here is very precise!
Thanks to S Rafael Cabezas Castro, Sommelier at SUSHISAMBA, Josh Butler, Bibendum’s London Account Manager for West End and City, and the team at SUSHISAMBA for making time out of their busy day for a few questions.
110 Bishopsgate, London, UK EC2M