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By Jacqueline Monahan
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On Friday, September 19, members of the media, invited guests and celebrity glitterati were treated to a unique experience in dining and dancing on the glamorous Las Vegas Strip.

Just one short escalator ride up from the main casino in the luxurious Palazzo Las Vegas Resort Hotel sits a spicy new addition to Las Vegas culinary arts and nightlife. SushiSamba, and its cleverly embedded nightclub, Sugarcane, will have you celebrating the color orange as they do, with vivid splashes on the walls and even in the salmon that graces one of the dozens of sushi creations they’re known for.

Within the 14,000 feet of restaurant space, you’ll find yourself in an amphitheatre-like setting with a huge semi-circular room full of dark cherry wood tables. A Mondrian-inspired glass façade greets guests while an art installation of spiraling ribbons creates a Carnaval-like environment in the 16-foot-high atrium that houses the main restaurant space.

The marble sushi bar is like a long center stage, and at any given time, six to eight sushi masters – all from Japan - manipulate the freshest sea bounty: fish, shellfish, mollusks and seaweed to create a marriage of flavor that tempts the palate with textures. The smoothness of the fish (cooked or raw), the crunch of sesame seeds, the sticky rice, and the crispness of assorted vegetables add variety to your bite. You never know what delicacy you might encounter; you just know that it’s divine. Enclosed in semi-transparent glass, guests can get a glimpse into how these food stylists prepare their edible works of art.

Chef Jose Mendin fuses the distinct flavors of Brazil, Japan, and Peru with sushi, sashimi and other raw creations served with a unique Latin flavor, combined with the elegance of Japanese presentational expertise.

The menu is extensive enough to please almost anyone’s taste. A raw bar features Alaskan King Crab Legs and several different varieties of oysters. Hot appetizers include pan seared sea scallops, seared Kobe beef, and SushiSamba's signature taquitos stuffed with Maine lobster. Fresh meats and seafood from the robata grill (used to prepare skewered meats and seafood over an open flame in a display-style), include filet mignon, duck breast, quail, whole squid, organic chicken, and Chilean sea bass.

SushiSamba also offers a unique family-style brunch featuring entrees that combine traditional breakfast dishes with a decidedly Latin influence.

There’s king crab, ahi tuna, yellowtail, eel and salmon. Avocado is an intimate friend. Add ginger slices, Wasabi paste and soy sauce, and you feel like a veritable sultan of sushi. Add Latin dancers and you have SushiSamba, a fusion of exotic cultures that delight both palate and eye. Geishas and South American Samba? Only in America.

Like another chamber in a spiraling nautilus shell, Sugarcane the Ultra-Lounge is SushiSamba’s flashy older sister. The vibrant, orange nightclub, intimate though loud, features provocative female dancers, video screens, a comparatively large dance floor and a friendly bar staff that can take any order in stride. Feel like a vodka/cranberry with green olives? These folks won’t blink an eye.

The drinks are potent, too. A muddled strawberry concoction tastes like a liquid fruit salad, until you try to down too many. A blueberry creation is even stronger and could get you dancing even if you’re shy.

The well stocked bar in both the restaurant and nightclub features more than just twists of lemon and lime. Large watermelon, mango, and green apple slices also adorn drinks, which are as dressed up as the clientele. It’s like having Carmen Miranda in a glass, all her rhythmic undulations intact.

Sugarcane’s space is resplendent in gold and chocolate-brown leather, bamboo, wood, and smoked and frosted acrylic. The courteous staff is well versed in cocktail components as well as the restaurant’s offerings.

Plentiful appetizers made their way out of the kitchen into eager hands. The skewered sea bass was like heaven on a stick. Mini-tuna burgers were succulently addictive. Mussels were filled with a chopped tomato stuffing and the hot seafood bisque, served in tall, narrow shot glasses, was a rich, velvety mouthful of creamy goodness.

There was vegetarian sushi, like a tiny vegetable garden wrapped in rice, and scallops on the half shell; skewered chicken, and pork belly, the meat complemented by an equally sized portion of pork fat. Somewhere, Emeril would be proud.

Open seven days a week, the two rooms (restaurant and Ultra-Lounge) jam concurrently beginning at 5 p.m. and together hold a 400 person capacity. Dress is casual but can range all the way to elegant. A 21+ clientele is preferred, but the restaurant can and does accommodate families. There’s no lack of music, percussion, whistle-blowing (with a real whistle) and gyrating, sequined hips in this orange venue where east meets west, exchanges a kiss, and sits down to dinner together.

For further information:

SushiSamba/Sugarcane

The Palazzo Las Vegas Resort Hotel

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, Nevada 89109(702) 607-0700

Hours:


Lunch: Monday – Saturday (11:30 am – 4 pm); Dinner: Sunday – Wednesday (5 pm – 1 am), Thursday (5 pm - 2 am), Friday – Saturday (5 pm – 3 am); SambaBrunch: Sunday (10 am – 4 pm)

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