Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Samba Brazilian Steak House - Rodizio


Samba is a Brazilian restaurant hidden away in a basement suite in downtown Vancouver. It offers rodizio style eating which translates to all-you-can-eat in English. And it's not just any rodizio, it's churrascaria de rodizio meaning all-you-can-eat meat brought to your table and served from large metal skewers! I bought a Groupon for this place and was slightly worried after reading several negative reviews. Many people complained about the high price of $32 per person for a weekend dinner, the lack of service, and the slow speed at which the servers came around with meats. I came for lunch on a weekday, so it was only $14 per person. In my opinion, it's probably a better deal to come for lunch unless you want to watch the sexy samba dancers perform during dinner time on the weekends. As for the service, it was great from the moment we walked in. Our waitress asked if we had been there before and gave each of us a small square card with a green side and a red side. She then instructed us to leave the green side up if we still wanted meat and to flip the card over to red when we were done. I remember thinking, "Why would I need to flip to red? Even if the meat came around 5 times, I would only get 5 small pieces. That's not very much!" Boy was I wrong! The servers seemed to come around nonstop... But anyway, this is my green card at the beginning of the meal.


Right after we sat down, our waitress asked if we wanted drinks and we all asked for hot water. About halfway through the meal when we had almost emptied our glasses, she came by to refill our water without us asking which was much appreciated. Just another example of good service. Before starting on the meat, I took a look at the salad bar and the hot foods. There were about 10 different salads, and condiments were kept in small tubs along the bar. I thought leaving the condiments open to dust and possibly body fluids from careless customers was rather unsanitary, but they didn't look too bad since it wasn't a busy day.


The choice of hot foods was very very limited. There was a large pot of stew called feijoada typically eaten with the tan powdery farofa beside it. A sign above the pot provided a brief history of the dish. Feijoada was a luxury dish for slaves made with black beans and leftover scraps of meat. It is now regarded as the national dish of Brazil and is often served with lightly roasted cassava flour called farofa. The feijoada was much too watery for a stew and the taste was relatively bland, so I didn't enjoy it much. There were only 4 other hot foods aside from the feijoada: plain rice, fries, fried taro balls and some kind of fish baked with cream cheese which was particularly delicious. The taro balls would've been nice too if they weren't completely cold from sitting there without a heat lamp. The buffet offerings were not very impressive in both taste and variety, but then again most people only come for the meat!


Right after I returned to the table with the buffet food, the meats started coming around. The server sliced off pieces of meat with a knife, and we used our tongs to grab them.


The first meat was lamb which was very tender (as were all of the other meats). It did have a slight musky aroma which I liked, but I know not everyone would enjoy it.


Then there was the skewer of chicken drumsticks. The meat was tender and fell off the bone easily as I tried to cut it up.


Next up was my favourite: beef sirloin. The meat was cooked rare and the centre was bright red just the way I liked it. The texture was soft with that almost-melt-in-your-mouth goodness.


But I found that it's better to wait until the outer slices are taken first, or else you'll get a super fatty piece of beef like this one.


After the beef, we had pork which was a bit firmer in texture but still soft and tender.


Then the skewer of sausages made its appearance. I don't like sausages at all, but I figured I might as well try a bit of everything. I think it was a pork sausage with a soft and bouncy texture. The meat was savoury but very oily, so I only ate half.


That concludes the 5 types of meat we got: lamb, chicken, beef, pork and sausage. But the servers kept coming back, so we had at least 10 pieces of meat each! After they came around 2-3 times for each type of meat, I was ready to give up. So I flipped my card to red with the words "I GIVE UP" written across the top. Didn't think I would have to do that!


All of the meats tasted great, but they were very filling and heavy on the stomach. After a while of meat-devouring, we had to go get veggies from the salad bar to refresh the palate. But for the price of $14 per person, it was a splendid meal with unlimited tender roasted meats and prompt service. Of course I got an even better deal with my Groupon. If I am ever in the mood to chomp down on meat, I will definitely come here.

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