In every other country I have lived, during summer (and even some winters), barbecues have always featured heavily in our lives. In Hong Kong, however, to have a barbecue is a real luxury, and an invitation to a barbecue comes seldom. A recent trip to Macau brought with it the idea of an all-you-can eat churrascaria (or Brazilian barbecue), and so a table at Fogo Samba was booked.
If you have ever walked along the ‘canal’ at The Venetian, you’ll already know that it is a rather strange place. The first time I went there I truly believed I was stepping outside and actually put my jacket on, before looking up and realising there was a ceiling. This is, therefore, perhaps not the first place you’d think of looking for a churrascaria, particularly not in ‘St. Mark’s Square’, but this is where you’ll find Eclipse Group’s Fogo Samba.
Downstairs, Fogo Samba shares its space with another Eclipse Group restaurant, Café Siam (though Macau’s outlet doesn’t look nearly as nice as HK’s). Upstairs, the restaurant is spacious with high ceilings, dark woods, brown leather and black iron hardware, suggesting that you’re dining in the Brazilian countryside. The walls are decorated with images of gauchos, or cowboys, but the eye is naturally drawn to the back of the room, where a huge open charcoal wood fire slowly cooks the beautiful meat.
A ‘rodizio’ dinner starts with a visit to the salad buffet. Other than a few tasty offerings, such as beef carpaccio with truffle oil, or grilled tomato caprese salad, as well as some tasty cheeses, I wasn’t overly impressed by the buffet. I found it strange to see a few of Café Siam’s Thai salads on offer and felt that an effort could have been made to include some exotic Brazilian salads instead.
Even if you are impressed by the buffet, it would be a rookie error to fill up on salad (in fact, that’s one of my general life rules: why fill up on salad when the world has so much more to offer?). It’s more understandable if you choose to fill up on the amuse bouches of deep-fried polenta, banana fritters, or, my favourite, päo de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), but even this is unadvisable if you want to make the most of the rodizio.
When you’re ready for your meat, there’s a small two-sided disc on your placemat. Red means stop and green means go; just turn the disc onto the green side and almost immediately, cowboy-booted waiters will appear with huge skewers of meat, ready to be carved right at your table. They’ll keep on coming until you turn that disc over, so you can literally eat as much as you like – hence the warning to not waste stomach space on salad.
There are 15 different cuts of meat to choose from, including sirloin, beef ribs, pork ribs, lamb chops, chicken thighs, chicken wrapped in bacon, beef wrapped in bacon and sausages. Most cuts of meat were very tasty, and we were particularly impressed by the lamb chops and the beef ribs. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the best meat I have ever eaten, but it was certainly enjoyable, all kissed with that lovely smoky char that reminds me of a true, home-style barbecue.
Although it came round several times throughout our meal, we waited until we were meated-out before accepting a slice of the grilled pineapple. You obviously can’t beat decent barbecued meat, but this pineapple, sprinkled in cinnamon sugar, was out of this world. We also enjoyed a slice of coconut flan from the buffet, but had to finish off with another slice of the pineapple.
The rodizio dinner costs only MOP358 per person (same same in HKD) – a complete bargain if you go hungry and take full advantage of it. Add on a bottle of Brazilian Tempranillo and a couple of seriously potent pineapple caipirinhas and our total bill (after a nice 10% discount when using our Sands Rewards Club Card – oh yes, we’re serious gamblers!) came to MOP1,105 for two. Service between cuts of meat was occasionally a little slow, but Fogo Samba is a fun, lively place that serves its required purpose and would suit a crazy weekend in Macau perfectly.
Grand Canal Shoppes, Shop 2412
The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel
Estrada da Baia de N. Senhora da Esperanca
The Cotai Strip
Tel: +853 2882 8499