PHUKET: Looking at a map of the world, Phuket, Thailand is about as far away as you can possibly get from the soccer-and-samba-crazed nation of Brazil. But don’t buy your ticket to Rio just yet, Patong’s newest restaurant has saved you the trouble of flying halfway around the globe and brought a taste of Brazil right here to Phuket.
Rodizio derived from the Portuguese word for wheel means rotation and is the generic name for the all-you-can-eat restaurants, hugely popular in Brazil, where an endless rotation of barbecued meat is served to diners straight from the skewer. It also refers to the method of cooking, where the skewers of meat are rotated over the hot coals and moved up and down to adjust the temperature at which they are cooked. And that’s exactly what you will see when you come to Rodizio; take a peek through the wide glass window into the kitchen and you can watch mesmerized as meat laden skewers spin tantalizingly over a glowing charcoal fire.
Located in Soi Patong Tower, just off Patong Beach Road near the Banana Walk Mall, Rodizio is the brainchild of the team behind Churrasco, another popular a la carte South American style steakhouse at nearby Jungceylon. Clearly their love of high quality beef knows no bounds and Rodizio is their latest gambit to capture the culinary imaginations of meat-lovers in Phuket.
Manager and Chef Jair da Rosa hails from Brazil and he has worked in restaurants, both in and out of the kitchen, in Sao Paulo and Saigon, for more than 15 years. His expertise enables him to re-create an authentic Brazilian taste and many of the recipes for side dishes such as Feijoada (a bean and pork stew which is Brazil’s national dish) and Pao de Queijo (a delicious cheese bread made from cassava flour with a chewy center) were handed down to Jair by his mother.
After helping yourself to some sides from the buffet selection, which includes fresh vegetables, salads, rice dishes, roast potatoes and more – not to mention authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and thin slices of Parma ham the carnivore’s feast is set to begin.
When they say all you can eat, they really mean it. A seemingly endless array of perfectly grilled skewers of glistening meat and seafood are presented to your table and using the tongs provided, you grab slices as they are trimmed off with a razor-sharp carving knife and put them on your plate. everything I tasted was a delight; chunky pork sausages, marinated chicken wings and nuggets of pork fillet wrapped in bacon. Other meats on offer, depending on availability, include pork ribs, fish of the day, shrimp, squid and lamb.
But that was only the beginning. Next came the most popular cut of beef served in traditional Brazilian Rodizios, which is known as Picanha. This is the topmost part of the sirloin, which has a layer of fat to keep the meat sublimely juicy and tender while it is slowly grilled over the coals. The Picanha alone is reason enough to visit Rodizio and no meal there would be complete without a liberal helping.
Perhaps the most surprising cut we encountered was the Cupim, which comes from the distinctive shoulder hump unique to the Brahman breed of cattle. This large chunk of beef is slow cooked first, before being finished over the charcoal, resulting in a flaky, almost white, meat that melts in your mouth with a flavor unlike any meat I have ever tried a uniquely Brazilian taste.
There are also several a la carte options available, such as a 250 gram Wagyu rib-eye steak, salmon steak, Rodizio burger or Brazilian lasagna, all of which include the sides buffet. But for the authentic Brazilian experience, we heartily recommend the all-you-can-eat option.
To complement your meal, there is a solid wine list to choose from, featuring some suitably South American wines from Chile and Argentina, as well as many other selections from France, Italy and Australia. If wine is not your thing, perhaps a fresh Brazilian Caipirinha cocktail, made to Jair’s original recipe, would be more to your liking.
As the evening continued, our meal was punctuated with servings of sliced, grilled pineapple designed to serve as a palate cleanser between the various meat dishes. Along with this comes servings of collared greens, Brazilian cheese bread and caeser salad, rounding off the meal superbly. If you have any room left, you can top off your meal with one of the classic deserts on offer, which include chocolate brownie, tiramisu, lemon sorbet and grilled banana or pineapple with ice cream.
This Sambadrome scale feast (if you don’t know what a Samba-drome is, perhaps you should book that ticket to Rio for Carnival after all) is all included for the single price of 690 baht, making it an entertaining and great-value night out to enjoy some of the best quality food in Patong.
— Mark Knowles