Restaurant Review: Rio Churrascaria

A Brazilian steakhouse that gives you all the delicious meats you can handle

We all know Saigon is a food town, but a good piece of meat can be tough to find. And sometimes, one piece of meat just isn’t going to satisfy. So if you have a hankering for a place serving up quality meats (plural), the type of place where overindulgence is seemingly encouraged and will leave you in a self-induced food coma, perhaps Rio Churrascaria (10AB Thai Van Lung, D1) is the place for you.

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Upon arrival, the sleek décor sets an upscale tone, making it an enjoyable setting to wind down and take your time feasting. Overlooking the corner of Thai Van Lung and Le Thanh Ton, this Brazilian steakhouse delivers dramatic flair that starts with the passadores, or trained meat waiters, on the constant prowl with giant slabs of beef, ready to fill your plate. The Brazilian chefs here boast extensive experience cooking churrascostyle barbecue in their home country, which is immediately evident with the first bite.

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Of course, the main event on the menu is the Buffet + Meats (VND689,000)—an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. If you’re a vegetarian, or simply looking for a lighter meal, you can opt solely for the Buffet Counter (VND380,000), and children ages 7-14 can enjoy everything for VND350,000.

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Starting with a round of stiff caipirinhas (VND120,000), we took a minute to process the frenzy of meats circulating before jumping into the fun. Proper decorum would have entailed starting with a fresh salad from the loaded buffet counter, but we didn’t have the discipline. The first passadore came around with a dripping beef rump steak and the feast began. Lightly salted and available cooked to different degrees, a bite of this seriously savory cut and we knew we were in for the real deal.

Before we knew it, our plates were filled with beef ribs, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, and sweet, caramelized pineapple that proved the perfect palate cleanser. If you’re looking to spice things up, a variety of fixings, including homemade chili sauce, mushroom sauce and pepper sauce, garnish the table, though we didn’t feel the need to add anything to these flavorful offerings.

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Once we cleared the first round, we made our way to the buffet, where they have 22 dishes that are changed daily. In addition to a widespread assortment of greens, we found such dishes as farofa, stuffed eggplant, black beans and a particularly pleasing pumpkin puree, forcing us to walk a fine line so as not to fill up and miss out on the many more meats to come.

The passadores kept making the rounds and suddenly our plates were overloaded yet again, this time with tasty little chicken hearts, juicy beef tenderloin with garlic, and a spicy pork sausage packing a punch of flavor.

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By this point, things started getting blurry. We were slipping into the aforementioned food coma, but we had to push on for the sake of our readers. We topped ourselves off with beef hump, beef rump top side and lamb shoulder. It was becoming borderline self-destructive behavior as each piece melted in our mouths, sending us further and further into a state of fullness that our doctors would most likely advise against.

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We’re not positive, but we’re pretty sure we ordered dessert before tapping out. If memory serves correctly, we opted for a moist Brazilian chocolate cake (VND99,000) and passionfruit mousse (VND99,000). This final round of food, while decadent and delectable, pushed us right over the edge.

Loosening our belts as we rolled out onto the street, we had definitively overdone it and we don’t regret it.

IMAGES BY NGOC TRAN

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