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Gluten Free at Sushi Samba – Lincoln Road Mall Miami

South Beach Miami
On our last day in South Beach we had a good 5 hours to kill before our flight home. We decided to spend a little bit of time walking around ocean drive, having a coffee, doing a spot of shopping on Collins Avenue (mainly me) and then walking along the boardwalk by the beach. Afterwards we went in search of a good final lunch in Miami, gluten free of course. We chose Lincoln Road Mall for lunch since we’d been there the night before and loved the atmosphere and the pleasant pedestrian area.

I’d done some research online the night before and decided to go to a Thai and Sushi restaurant called Sushi Siam for lunch. I figured that this would be a safe bet as there are so many naturally gluten free Thai and Japanese dishes that the likelihood of cross contamination would be low.

This turned out to be a big mistake! I asked the waitress if she could advise me on gluten free dishes on the menu and she looked at me like I had spoken to her in Martian. I kept repeating “gluten free” and she just looked more and more confused. I have a feeling that her English was limited and asked if I could speak to someone else. She then brought who I assumed was the restaurant owner and I asked her the same question. Her English was much better, but again she clearly didn’t understand what gluten free meant. I tried to explain and then she told me that she didn’t know what was in the curry paste as it was brought to the restaurant in big tubs and also told me that she was feeling very scared at the thought of serving me food in case I had a reaction. At that point I decided that it was a wise move to go elsewhere! If you are wandering up and down Lincoln Road Mall looking for a gluten free meal, don’t bother with Sushi Siam!

My next stop was Sushi Samba and thankfully I had a much better experience there. The waitress didn’t blink an eye lid when I told her that I was on a gluten free diet and mentioned that they also had gluten free soy sauce and gluten free soy paper for the sushi. She told us to pick what we fancied from the menu and she would double check with the chef if it was gluten free. She also mentioned that one of the chefs had a daughter with a gluten allergy.

The menu was a little confusing to Stuart and I, as we’d never heard of most of the dishes before. The food is kind of a fusion style between Japanese and Brazilian, so we recognized most of the Japansese dishes, but not the Brazilian ones. We decided to go for a few different sushi dishes. One called Ebisu San, consisting of snow crab, shrimp, coconut, chiliĀ  for $14.00, a spicy tuna roll (about $7 I think) and a salmon and avocado roll (again, around the $7 mark). We also picked a dish on the small plates section of the menu – a calamari dish for $13. The waitress confirmed that all the sushi dishes were gluten free and she would request the special gluten free soy paper. She wasn’t sure about the small dishes, so we asked her to check that and come back for us to choose another dish if it wasn’t.

Sushi Samba at Lincoln Road Mall South Beach Miami

Overall the food was lovely – beautifully presented and very fresh and tasty. My only gripe was that she brought us an alternative dish from the small menu without asking us whether or not we wanted it first! Aparantly all the small plates contained gluten apart from this one dish and she forgot to tell us. Luckily it was something that we both liked – Tuna Tataki white asparagus, fresh heart of palm, avocado, tatsoi, citrus soy for $15.00. Here’s a photo of the Tuna Tataki – we had eaten two of them before I remembered to take the photo!

Sushi Samba Tuna Tataki, Lincoln Road Mall Miami

Based on the knowledge of the waitresses and the good selection available, I recommend Sushi Samba to people who are on a gluten free diet. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere, with seating both outside and inside and the sushi is all made fresh by the chefs in the centre of the restaurant. If you like sushi, or Brazilian food, this restaurant will appeal to you.

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