The Coral Gables dining scene has changed immensely in the past year. We've seen places such as Eating House pop up, pop out, and reopen permanently. Others, such as Pao Town, have shut their doors for good. Though the closing of Pao Town -- Sushi Maki's fast-casual Asian concept -- might have scared other eateries in the neighborhood, Sushi Samba, which recently began serving breakfast and is rolling out affordable lunch options, is giving hope.
Sushi Samba opened its doors as the Westin Colonnade just five months ago, in May. Now the Japanese/Peruvian/Brazilian restaurant is expanding its midday offerings with a lunch menu that's time- and wallet-friendly -- perfect for downtown Coral Gables.
Executive chef Brian Nasajon has conceptualized dishes everyone craves for lunch: salads and sandwiches. Robata shrimp salad with baby tatsoi, palm heartsz, roasted cashews, red quinoa, and candied ginger vinaigrette ($14) is heavily light. Not a salad person? We don't blame you. Sandwiches are better, especially when they include Wagyu sliders served on a sesame brioche buns with aji panca ketchup, shredded lettuce, tomato, and fries ($15). We're especially intrigued by the chicken katsu, with pickled rutabaga and sriracha aioli, also served with fries ($15).
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The Japanese aspect of the restaurant brings bento boxes. Signature bentos feature a choice of entrée -- choose from picanha robata with honey-walnut chimichurri; roast chicken with kuromitsu-soy; soba noodle salad with market vegetables and dashi-amazu sauce; salmon robata with sweet soy; new classic ceviche with sweet potato confit; or a sushi sampler. Bento boxes are served with miso soup, a field greens salad, and a choice of white rice or red quinoa. Talk about a healthful and hearty lunch.
Don't have time to break for lunch? Takeout and delivery options are available for small and large groups.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha