Sushisamba, Edinburgh


Sushisamba, W Hotel

1 St James Square, Edinburgh EH1 3AX

0131 287 1450

Sushsisamba Roof

The Bill

A la carte

Appetisers £5 - £8 | Small plates £9 - £20 | Raw £12 - £17

Robata £9 - £70 | Large Plates £18 - £120 

Samba, Nigiri, Sashimi £8 - £40 | Desserts £10 - £12

The Score 

Cooking 7/10 | Service 5/5

Flavour 5/5 | Value 4/5

TOTAL 21/25

You should have no problem finding the place, or at least the controversial building in which it's situated. Look east from anywhere in the New Town of Edinburgh (established 1767, hence the name) and you can spot the burnished copper of the dome, as though a half peeled orange had been suspended. A classic love it or hate it structure, it does dominate the view along George Street. Being a fan, I'm now pleased that the good citizens of Edinburgh have taken to calling it the walnut whip (homage to a famous Edinburgh-created confection) rather than the pejorative term inspired by Scottish Water and a well known emoji.

It's entirely appropriate that you can see the W Hotel from everywhere. Why? Because when you ride the elevator (this is definitely an elevator, not a lift) to Sushisamba on the tenth floor, you can see literally all of Edinburgh from there. If you're reading this while sipping a cocktail in the snazzy bar, don't think about complaining that your view is only 270 degrees: go to the gents and do what you have to do while admiring views of the Forth Bridges in the distance.

It's no surprise to learn that this place has sisters in Las Vegas, Doha, Dubai, and in the Heron Tower in London. This is for people who like a bit of bling, though in this case not cheap bling. Bling and good value food are not regular companions. As we were celebrating L's birthday, price wasn't the primary concern, though the quality of the scran always is.

Just remember you're in a place topped by a copper Curly Wurly, with views to put the Camera Obscura to shame, in a hotel where the cheapest room will set you back £567 a night. How did we fare? Well, leaving the elevator we were stunned. By the views obviously, by the OTT bar centrepiece resembling an orange tree with tubular bells, and by the lovely people who greeted us. When booking I said we would want time for a glass of fizz in the bar. Whoever it was I spoke to sounded a little vague, but we were guided to a window table which had been reserved for us.

Older couples (not us, obviously) sometimes struggle for conversation when dining à deux. The time passed in a flash as we looked out for people panting and peching up Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat, and tried unsuccessfully to identify the further flung steeples. Then the lovely Monica from Colombia brought us the menu, a major talking point in itself. I wonder who it was who woke up one morning and thought, I'll design a menu that's part Japanese, part Brazilian and part Peruvian? I don't pretend to be an expert in any of the above cuisines, but it was fun exploring.

The idea is sharing plates, which suits us very well, though I know some of you hate them. I think Monica recommended three or four small and one large for the two of us. Large plates start at a relatively modest £18 (for mushrooms with poached egg), rising speedily to the mid 50s, then soaring to £120 should you want a tomahawk steak (size unspecified).

It then occurred to me that I didn't know which category the Japanese Robata fell into. Robata is short for robatayaki which is Japanese cooking over charcoal.  The meat based ones for sensible people ranged from £18 to £25. If you're stupid enough to order Wagyu, you deserve all you get, which will be a hit for 70 quid from this section, or 125 for a Wagyu Ishiyaki. The latter is cooked on hot stones, possibly by yourself.

Fish tacos are as Peruvian as you can get, two per portion. In fairness, they were described as taquitos, ie small tacos, but my eyebrows were raised when our rather dainty lobster ones arrived. Very nice they were, the flavours of avocado, lime and a little chilli coming through clearly and cleanly. But the advertised lobster? A magnifying glass disclosed one or two cubes. Would have been OK for 10 quid, but that was the price for EACH, the plate coming in at £20. Not bad margins when you could use one lobster to make about fifity of them. Moving to Japan, I had to try some nigiri - yellowtail tuna. Well not as good as you get at Tokyo Fish Market, but pretty darn fine. £11 for 2 pieces (£7.20 in Kanpai).

As I've written before, I don't mind price if the quality is there. Things moved up a good few notches when we went to Brazil. Moqueca Mista is one of their large plates, a wonderful vat of coconut based seafood stew overcrowded with prawns and squid and mussels and clams and sea bass. With chimichurri rice, there were easily three generous helpings, actually pretty decent value at £35.

We were getting quite full by this stage, but I vaguely remembered I had also ordered from the robata section. Our two dishes were a master class in how to barbecue. Chunks of poussin had been marinaded with yuzu kosho. That's a paste with chilli and yuzu, the latter being a Japanese citrus, like a slightly sharp orange. There was obviously more applied during the cooking process, the end result perfectly cooked chicken with a glorious sticky glaze. And there. was more to come. Pork ribs had a soy glaze and came with charred pineapple. I've cooked pork ribs before, but not as well as these.

Puds sounded interesting, but there was as much chance of us sampling one as there was of flying round the nearby Balmoral Hotel clock. The bill please. If you exclude booze and service, we paid £55 a head for far more food than we needed, all of it top notch. If you're careful, you could eat for a fair bit less (but you could pay a LOT more). I've spent more than that for meals of much lower quality, and there were wines available which didn't make one wince at the price.

How to sum up Sushisamba? It's bling, it's bonkers, it's quite expensive - and I loved it.


  1. Iain MacDonald on 28th June 2024 at 2:07 pm

    I’m sorry, but what an absolutely disgusting comment to write regarding Salisbury Crag, a poor young woman did indeed lose her life recently after being thrown off the Crag by her husband. I couldn’t believe I was reading this which was in the worst possible taste and will no longer be reading your blog.

    • Tom Johnston on 28th June 2024 at 5:53 pm

      Iain, with hindsight I agree with you. That was crass of me. I have amended the article. My apologies to you and to anyone else who was offended.

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