An Edible Expedition at James Beard

SUSHISAMBA hosted a dinner at the most prominent culinary foundation in America: the James Beard House in New York.
Almost 70 reservations-only guests went on “An Edible Expedition” with a multi-course menu inspired by SUSHISAMBA’s most celebrated cities: London, Tokyo, Bahia, Okinawa, Cusco and Aomori. Executive Chef Cláudio Cardoso, Corporate Sushi Chef Koji Kagawa and Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development Richard Woods helmed the culinary journey.
Following the evening, they sat down for an exclusive interview:
1. Was this your first visit to the James Beard House?
Cláudio: Yes, and it was a great event!
Koji: I’ve had the opportunity to cook at the Beard House on four separate occasions. It is always an honor.​ This dinner was particularly fun as I had the chance to collaborate with the London team.
Richard: This was the second time. It was certainly great to be back again and with a different brand from the SBM family.
2. How did theme/idea come about for this dinner? What was the inspiration?
Cláudio: The theme was to take the guests on a culinary journey through some SUSHISAMBA’s most celebrated cities.
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3. How did you select what cities to feature? The ingredients from each city? Were there specific flavors or feelings that you wanted to evoke? How did you choose the order of the menu?
Cláudio: I spent quite some time researching the culinary and cultural characteristics of the featured cities: London, Bahia, Tokyo, Okinawa, Cusco and Aomori. The order of the dishes was chronological according to the sequence of meals in a day. Guests started with a savoury English-style breakfast in London, followed by a lighter dish of tiger prawn in Moqueca sauce for lunch in Bahia, eel and foie gras nigiri in Tokyo for a late-afternoon snack, so on and so forth.
Koji: The menu featured classic ingredients from each city, bringing to life the texture and flavor of the localities. If guests closed their eyes mid-dessert, we wanted them to feel as though they were in Aomori (pictured below).

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4. Was this dinner your first time collaborating? 
Cláudio: No, I’ve been fortunate enough to do some collaborations with Koji and Richard in the past.
5. What was your favorite part about the evening?
Cláudio: Each course required different techniques and precision. Executing the food with attention to detail and timing was an adrenaline rush.
Koji: The first course – the Kobe English Breakfast – it was a very cool dish and something original to London’s location.
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6. What did you want guests to take away from this collaboration?
Cláudio: Great food, an exciting journey and a memorable time.

Koji: We’re always trying to push boundaries so I hope guests walked away with a new experience.

Richard: An understanding that cocktails can be an experience in and of themselves as well as complementary to cuisine.
7. What is your favorite part about cooking in America?
Cláudio: It was something new and outside of my comfort zone.
8. Did you do anything afterwards to celebrate in New York?
Cláudio: I stayed an additional 3 days to enjoy and explore the city.

Koji: We went for a bite to eat. We were all very tired from the evening so we had to pass on the night-club.
9. How would you compare the culinary scene in New York vs. London?
Cláudio: Both cities have certainly made their mark in the culinary scene. They are very different in terms of offerings, but very similar in terms of standards.

Koji: You really cannot compare styles, but that is the beauty of it – every global city has something unique that sets it apart.
10. As Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development, what cocktails did you prepare for the dinner? What was your inspiration?
Richard: These cocktails were a part of the newly launched ‘culinary’ rage from SUSHISAMBA West Village. The inspiration was the binding of two elements to form one recipe – a harmony of cultures between the bar and the kitchen. I served a few cocktails that capture the essence of this approach: the fresh, fiery and cooling Tom Yam, which combines coriander, ginger, lime leaf, chili and vodka and is served with an accompanying nigiri and the buttery, smooth Wagyu Cocktail, which is a riff on an Old Fashioned with Japanese Whisky treated to a wash of the highest grade of wagyu before being stirred with maple and salted caramel.

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11. You served some of the Culinary Cocktails that will be debuting in New York December 1st. What are you trying to achieve with the culinary-inspired cocktail?
Richard: To show how with the addition of balance, unusual ingredients and those normally associated with the kitchen can work in drinks.
13. Which cocktail is the most difficult to execute?
Richard: The Wagyu Cocktail as it takes time to prep and requires patience and precision.

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find your passion fruit

Passion Fruit Batida

We’re passionate about passion fruit! Fresh passion fruit, a sweet passion fruit sugar, cachaça and Benedictine are churned together with ice and served long in our Passion Fruit Batida cocktail. Saúde!

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beat the summer heat

July Sambatini

Summer is the time of year when our palates crave light and cool refreshments. Our special Sambatini for July is an ensemble of shochu, gin, fresh ginger, lime juice, and ginger ale. Cheers!

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simple & clean

Jin Hana

When we set out to create a cocktail to cheer on Team Japan, we knew right away that we wanted it to taste “clean.” A simple mixture of sake, gin, hoba leaf-infused elderflower liqueur and bitters come together for the Jin Hana. Kanpai!

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What’s Shakin’?

May Sambatini

What’s shaking with our bartenders? The Sambatini special for May has a cornucopia of flavors! It’s made with Pisco Portón, mango rum, coconut rum, lime, yuzu, mango nectar and orange bitters.

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bottoms up for carnaval


With Carnaval coming up, we decided to remix the classic Brazilian cocktail into a Kiwi Caipirinha. This delectable drink is made with chopped kiwi, Leblon cachaça, pernod, apple juice, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. Bottoms up!

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dynamic duo

Sushi + Bar

Crafted by Chef John, we present a caipirinha refined and redefined: Leblon Cachaca, yuzu cordial, St. Germain, splash of sparkling Moscatel, Cave Amadeu, and a couple drops of Grenadine! Then, paired with a sake-mirin-soy marinated salmon topped with Leche de Tigre purée. Now, this is what happens when bar meets sushi at SUSHISAMBA Las Vegas!!!

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A Samurai’s Guide to Sake

Our very own “samurai”, Drew Peterson, the Corporate Beverage Director of SUSHISAMBA. The picture was taken in a small mountain town in Japan, where he was taking his sake-smarts to the next level (II) as part of a Master’s degree in sake certification (that can only be accomplished in Japan.)

In addition to learning all about sake, Drew also discovered a lot about Japanese cuisine, especially in regards to the preparation of sashimi. Like Koji, Mere and I – he ventured through Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market – the largest fish market in the world. The Tsukiji fish market exports fish all over and always has a huge selection of fresh seafood.

We’ll be working with Drew a lot more on the culinary side – including some exciting pairings to go with NYC’s upcoming Restaurant Week.


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from sake to chablis

SS has long focused on the idea of food and beverage pairings. The right wine/sake/cocktail paired with the right dish can bring out flavors that might otherwise be missed.

We have an awesome Beverage Team and count on them for scouting out new sakes, vinos and liquors that can expand our offerings and our education. There’s so much to taste! Recently in NYC, Cody swung by the Martin Scott Grand Tasting, The Wines of Japan portfolio tasting, and an exclusive Chablis Tasting at the David Bouley Test Kitchen in Tribeca.

Here are a few of his picks… Click the bottles/logo for more details. How about a shochu with a green tea ice cream finish?


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academia da cachaça

In Rio we paid a visit to Academia da Cachaça in Leblon (Rua Conde Bernadotte 26) where they offer over 100 different types of cachacas by the bottle – and as a result – a wide variety of caipirinhas.

Koji went with the Cocada Geladinha – a cocktail of fresh coconut, cachaca, coconut water and fig marmalade served in a wine glass – while Mere tried the Cachaca Cristalina, made with sweet lime, lemon, passion fruit and jabuticaba served in a small, straight water glass with a salt rim. [Side note: jabuticaba is pretty much the equal of the American grape – but with a deep plum/black skin and white/rose-colored flesh… we’ll post a photo of the fresh version from the market soon] I went with a ‘traditional’ caipirinha so that we  had a foundation for comparison and we paired everything with bar snacks like Bolinha de Carne and Bolinha de Queijo (fried meat and cheese balls), Bolinho de Mandioca (fried manioc and cheese rolls), Inhame Crocante (crispy yam chips). All of us remarked at the strength of cocktails in Brazil, where cachaca flows like water and nobody minds the sharp citrus burn down the back of their throats. While we sipped out drinks slowly – the locals at the table next to us had already finished their second round. It’ll take some getting used to – but we’re up for the challenge.

Here’s a list of some of the Academia’s local cachaças:

SC – Armazém Vieira SC – Warehouse Vieira
GO – Atitude GO – Attitude
RS – Casa Bucco RS – House Bucco
CE – Chave de Ouro EC – Gold Key
MG – Lua Cheia MG – Full Moon
RJ – Magnífica RJ – Magnificent
RJ – Santa Rosa RJ – Santa Rosa
ES – Santa Terezinha ES – Santa Terezinha
PB – Serra Limpa PB – Clear Mountain

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