Coral Gables, FL – June 6, 2013 – Fanatics of SUSHISAMBA can now enjoy the Lincoln Road mainstay across the bridge. The international, high-end sushi fusion restaurant has just opened a second South Florida location in the heart of Coral Gables on Miracle Mile. Located in the Westin Colonnade Hotel on Aragon Avenue, SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables now totals the restaurants to seven, with others in Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, and more recently, London. However, what you might not know, is that SUSHISAMBA is part of Samba Brands Management, a company that was founded by Shimon Bokovza, Matthew Johnson, and Danielle Billera over 13 years ago. SBM includes all seven sushi restaurants, as well as another London restaurant called Duck & Waffle and SUGARCANE raw bar grill in Miami’s bustling Midtown neighborhood.
What started in 1999 with one 89-seat restaurant in New York City has now grown into a world-wide restaurant empire of nine rave-worthy establishments. Just last year, SBM expanded with the first international opening of SUSHISAMBA in London at the Heron Tower, which is also where Duck & Waffle is located. The restaurants take up the 38th, 39th, and 40th floors of the tower, which is the second tallest building in London. The view from dining there is better than that of The London Eye, giving an incredible 360-degree view of the entire city.
Nearly every Miamian who has a palate for sushi or fusion cuisine has been to the Miami Beach location of SUSHISAMBA. It’s been around for years, and it’s one of the very few worthy dining destinations on the strip, making it one of the top-grossing restaurants on Lincoln Road. In the past six months, it’s undergone a brand new renovation and had some great menu additions. SBM’s other fan favorite in Miami is SUGARCANE raw bar grill. Since it opened under the helm of Chef Timon Balloo, it’s been wildly successful and been a major contributor to the rise of Midtown’s culinary scene. The booming neighborhood has become a united community over food, with much thanks to Balloo and his delicious small plate creations. SUGARCANE was nominated as one of the James Beard Award’s Top 10 New Restaurants in the US last year, and was just crowned with a AAA Five Diamond Award- the highest accolade a restaurant can get.
With such success, it only seemed right that the Coral Gables and South Miami area finally be given the chance to dine closer to home when craving their favorite Japanese-Peruvian-Brazilian sushi plates. The new location brings an entirely new look, feel, and menu to the Mile, with everyone’s favorite staples still in place.
This location is unique in that it has a sushi bar, open kitchen, and an amazing robata grill that’s second to none. It was made from a three ton boulder that was cut into quarters, hollowed out, and put back together with a grill inside. The robata adds a whole new variety of menu options not available anywhere else like prawns, Alaskan King Crab legs, bone marrow, lamb chops, and other high-end grilled delicacies.
SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables was the product of a $4 million build-out. The entire restaurant was renovated from the inside, out by award-winning architectural firm CetraRuddy. The 65,000 square-foot space has a lounge, inside bar, outside dining and the only outdoor bar in the Gables, making for a premier event space.
Ceilings are always a signature statement piece in any SUSHISAMBA dining room, and this location adds amazing design and colors to the scheme.
There’s an expansive list of signature cocktails inspired by the Japanese, Peruvian, and Brazilian cuisine being served, along with spirits from the represented countries like shochu, pisco, and cachaça in addition to beer and wine. This location has one of the largest premium sake selections in Florida.
Pastry Chef Jerome Guerlet, General Manager Hayes Swope, and Executive Chef Jasper Schneider
Swope just celebrated his 13th year with the company: “I opened our Las Vegas location and was relocated here to open the Gables location. It’s an addictive place to work- it’s got a great energy with the Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian influences.”
The infamous Tuna Tataki has seared big eye tuna served over catsoi Japanese spinach and is drizzled with yuzu garlic vinaigrette, topped with hearts of palm, white asparagus, avocado créme, a garlic chip and black Hawaiian sea salt.
The seared Kobe beef is served with warm honshemiji mushrooms, a ponzu jelly, and a tofu truffle cream.
The tried-and-true sushi and sashimi staples will always be on the menu, along with the Brazilian churrasco and moqueca, Peruvian anticuchos and ceviches, and Japanese wagyu and tempura. The open kitchen, brick oven, and fiery robata grill add a whole new dimension to the cuisine, allowing for grilled meats, fish, and vegetables.
This is the Key Lime Cheesecake dessert. It’s a beautiful creation with a hand-blown sugar bubble filled with key lime cheesecake served with strawberry jelly and yuzu-basil granite.
The Coral Gables location is open for daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with weekend brunch coming soon.
SUSHISAMBA’s Celebrity Following
The SUSHISAMBA restaurants have not only been popular amongst locals and visitors around the country and abroad, but also big-time celebrities. Whether it be in Las Vegas at The Palazzo Hotel, in bustling New York City, or on the sands of Miami Beach, stars go to the restaurant whenever they’re in town because they know it’s one that will always deliver fresh, flavorful dishes. SBM co-owner Matthew Johnson and his wife Tricia are heavily involved with the South Beach Wine and Food Festival each year here in Miami and are friends with celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri, which helps give SBM brands such a popular following. Billy Joel and Hulk Hogan are just a couple of the celebrity fans who’ve been to the Lincoln Road location over the years, and they now have an off-the-beach alternative for the best sushi fusion. Johnson tells us all about the new location and even shares a little about the next exciting project that’s in the works.
World Red Eye: What’s the best part about having multiple restaurants in Miami? What keeps you opening new spots here?
Matthew Johnson: Miami is a growing market with lots of opportunities and is where myself and my family call home. I love being able to visit all of our restaurants every day.
WRE: Your sake selection at the new Gables location is very extensive. How did you acquire such a collection?
MJ: SUSHISAMBA has the largest, most extensive sake collection in Florida. Coral Gables has a massive sake display which holds sakes that range from $50 to well into the thousands of dollars range. SUSHISAMBA has always taken pride in its sake program since day one.
WRE: What’s your go-to sushi order?
MJ: Neo Tokyo, Samba Dromo Roll, although now I’m enjoying the new Samba Coral Gables Roll. And of course, you can’t forget the Tuna Tataki.
WRE: Can we get any clues as to what the new concept with Timon Balloo in the former Sustain space will be? You guys had a Sushi Samba pop-up there during Art Basel…
MJ: It will be a brand new concept by SBM along with Chef Balloo… That’s all for now!
WRE: What’s been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career with restaurants?
MJ: That three partners started this dream almost 14 years ago and seeing how far we’ve come!
Matthew & Tricia Johnson at South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 27, 2011
Billy Joel & Katie Lee at SUSHISAMBA Lincoln Road on January 19, 2005
Matthew Johnson & Hulk Hogan at SUSHISAMBA Lincoln Road on July 21, 2006
Hayley & Jason Binn, Tricia & Matthew Johnson at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 25, 2010
Marc Jay, James Recio, Tricia & Matthew Johnson at the Grand Opening of SUSHISAMBA Las Vegas at The Palazzo Hotel on January 17, 2008
Richie Rich, Joe Korniewicz, & Casey at the Miami Vice Premiere and After Party at SUSHISAMBA Lincoln Road on July 25, 2006
Haylie Duff & Hilary Duff at SUSHISAMBA Lincoln Road on August 28, 2004
Matthew Johnson, Emeril Lagasse, & Tricia Johnson at Emeril’s Sugar Shack at The Raleigh during South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 22, 2008
Guy Fieri, Kevin Berg, Matthew Johnson, & Charlie Trotter at the Tribute Dinner for Emeril Lagasse at Loews Miami Beach during South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 21, 2009
Guy Fieri, Mario Batali, Charlie Trotter, Norman Van Aken, Emeril Lagasse, Matthew Johnson, Bobby Flay, Michael Laiskonis, Gordon Maybury, Thomas Buckley, & Eric Ripert at the Tribute Dinner for Emeril Lagasse at Loews Miami Beach during South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 21, 2009