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SushiSamba Still Has Substance; 2.5 Stars For Pubbelly Sushi

Lee Klein says that since the arrival of "new executive chef Michael Bloise (Wish, American Noodle Bar) at the end of May, SushiSamba has been turning heads once again." That being said, "Bloise's presence may have perked things up, but he hasn't tinkered much with the long-underrated cuisine. Japan, Brazil and Peru are still the spheres of gastronomic import." As for that cuisine: "Black truffle aioli with a garlic kick proved to be an addictive, delectable dip;" We were smitten with a xin-xim of rock shrimp-stuffed chicken breast . . . The biggest hit at the table was bulky pan-fried gyoza bursting with braised, cinnamon-flecked oxtail; fluke seviche was "ruined;" sushi rolls "are highly creative;" entrees are available but, Klein advises, "never order a large plate in a small-plate restaurant." Bottom line: "SushiSamba is still loads of fun — and like some other pretty party types, it has more substance than meets the eye." [MNT]

Victoria Pesce Elliott visits Pubbelly Sushi, which, she says, "is not for purists. I’m up for anything, from horse meatballs in Puglia to fried scorpions in Beijing, but if anyone had told me I’d be ordering — and enjoying — burrata cheese with raw fish, I’d surely have rolled my eyes." It's not all bad, but it's not all good, she says. "Lots of its combinations jump onto the palate like fireworks, though some do land with a thud." Menu, she says, can be confusing, but the black-clad staff seems genuinely informed and engaged." Chef Jose Mendin "knows his way around the raw stuff," VPE writes, adding that "they bring in pristine seafare." What worked: "Burrata draped with a lozenge of beet-red tuna; BLT -a uniquely delicious, crispy, salty and creamy blend of fried soft-shell crab and fresh blue-crab tartar sauce; rich smoky pork belly," among others. Not so much: "Murky French onion miso soup; grisly short ribs; no-reservation policy and a jam of waiting customers on the sidewalk and in the crowded entry." Bottom line: 2.5 stars. []