Sherman's Food Adventures: Samba


*Restaurant is closed*

As a business, the premise behind a restaurant is to ultimately make money. In terms of a buffet, the strategy is to make money by hoping that patrons either eat very little or fill themselves up with the cheap stuff. These are known as fillers. You know, items such as salads, mashed potatoes, rice, bread and soft drinks. Or in the case of Asian buffets, rice, noodles, sushi rolls and nigiri. Of course you get a totally different category of places that just try to delay the expensive items from ever showing up at your table... (ahem, Fish on Rice). Alright, I'm sure some of those items appeal to quite a lot of people; but when trying to maximize your money, you most certainly don't want to get your fill on those things alone. Naturally, there is some Asian influence since we are taught at an early age to go for the expensive items first. In fact, a scolding would be in order if we came back with a plate of mash potatoes and corn. So you can only imagine what my initial reaction was to Samba. Advertising itself as a Brazilian BBQ which specializes in Churrascaria de Rodizio, you can get all the meat-you-want-to-eat. Of course, by virtue of being operated by the Thai House, it isn't exactly authentic. Juan Valdez (no, not the coffee guy), being Colombian, had some idea of what Brazilian food is supposed to be and he agreed that it is indeed not authentic. However, his belief is that at least there is something remotely close to the real Brazilian BBQ. Thus, whether it is authentic or not, if you like it, then it's all good. And let's not get that talk about "it's better in (insert country)" talk again. We are talking about restaurants in Vancouver. So comparing to the originating country is irrelevant. Instead, we must focus whether it was an enjoyable eating experience or not, independent of authenticity.

So this is not the first time for me at Samba. In fact, I've been here a half-dozen times already. For the AYCE lunch, it's $14.00 Monday to Thursday and $16.00 on Friday and weekends. Dinner is considerably more expensive, although the meat selection is appreciably larger. It's $29.00 Monday to Thursday and $32.00 on Friday and weekends. The deal here is that you get a card where one side is green and the other red. As long as you have your card on green, the servers will keep bringing BBQ'd meat. All the different types of meat arrive on large sword-like skewers where they slice off a piece for you. Using the supplied tongs, you just grab the meat before they finish cutting it. Other than the meats roaming around the restaurant, there is a stationary salad bar with some cooked items as well. For me, I get a little bit there; but I save room for the meats.

The first item to arrive were the Chicken Drummettes. With a nice BBQ'd exterior while still being fairly moist inside, it was a nice start. A tad on the salty side though. Next up were the Sausages. I originally resisted on filling up on sausage (that really doesn't sound right...); but I relented and got one (that sounds even worse!). They weren't bad, the well-seasoned filling had a nice fennel flavour to it. Now something that you don't see every day... Pork that still has some pink! I know, this might scare some people; but I assure you, this allows for some very tender and juicy pork. Don't worry, the really pink portion in the middle is not served; rather the skewer is returned to the BBQ for further cooking. That is the same with the rest of the meats. So if you like it rare, make sure you get a piece on the first go around, otherwise it'll be well-done on the next cycle.

I really like Lamb and naturally, I got in on the action when it came by. As you can see in the picture, it was cooked a nice medium rare on the inside. If you wanted more cooked, the side cut should do you fine. Furthermore, the side is much more flavourful due to the seasoning on the exterior of the meat. All the meat was fine and dandy; but we were really waiting for the Top Sirlion. Yes, I know it's not exactly the best cut of beef; yet the way they cook it here, it was tender and full of flavour. C'mon, what carnivore wouldn't like that juicy, bloody, charred piece of meat? For me, that was perfectly cooked. Remember if that is not your cup of tea, just wait for the second go-around.

In my opinion, if you take Samba for it is, it can be a great experience. After all, there is not much like it around these parts. Yah, I know, it's not exactly how it is in Brazil; but we're not in Brazil. So I really don't care frankly. The lunchtime price is quite a deal in my books considering the location of the restaurant. With dinner being double the price, it really would depend on how much you like meat to shell out the dough.

The Good:
- Meatlover's paradise
- If you stay away from the salad bar, there is not much filler here
- Reasonably-priced lunch

The Bad:
- Vegetarian's nightmare
- If you don't catch the meat on the first go-around, everything ends up well-done
- Dinner is pricey (although the meats are better and a steak somewhere else will cost that much anyways)

Samba Brazilian Steak House on Urbanspoon


KimHo said...

I went to Samba several years ago for a work party (we had the whole restaurant). Pretty much everybody hated it. The meats weren't served at a fast enough pace and "low end" pieces of meat came out first. For example, chicken heart, lives, sausages. By the time most people was full, it was when they started to bring out the prime cuts. As for the pieces I did get to eat... Well, it was disappointing at best. Sure, lots of meat but average at best. I guess after all these years, I should give it a chance again. Alas, there are only that many people willing to eat as much meat as me! >_<

Sherman Chan said...

Well, I do agree that some of the cuts of meat should be better; but as I mentioned, the whole point is to make money. With that being said, I think it might've been the sheer quantity of people that might've delayed the other meats and how it was cooked. Of course that is not an excuse because restaurants should be able to handle capacity. I've been there half a dozen times and I enjoy it for what it is.

KimHo said...

Well, yes and no. Since we booked it in advance, not to mention we had to RSVP for it, that meant they knew what time we will be there plus how many people will be there. But, regardless, based on your feedback, I guess it is time for a revisit!

trisha said...

would you believe i've been here? i had halibut! it was subpar and that seemed like the general consensus from my friends. i think they focus on the whole meat show thing too much and fail on quality control.

Sherman Chan said...

Kim, I think you really have to make sure you get the meat on the first go around, otherwise it will be guaranteed to be overcooked.

Trisha, yes, anything other than the meat... is subpar. It's all about the meat there.

Mare-bear said...

Cool post...this is a cuisine that I am just not familiar with. And since I am not a major carnivore, this place would most likely be lost on myself. I am all for all-you-can eat, and i can prorate my expectations accordingly...but i'm inclined to decline this fare...

Sherman Chan said...

Mare-bear, you're right, Samba is not for everyone. You need to like meat and lots of it...

Anonymous said...

Hey Sherman,
Big fan of these reviews...
Is your Samba review based on the lunch menu or the dinner menu?

Sherman Chan said...

Thanks for your kind words! It was the lunch menu. Dinner is practically the same; but with much more meat selection.

Search this Site