Every Sunday, I hit the gym with K-Dubs. After that we always get lunch. But it’s a very ad-hoc affair. Sometimes we have a plan, sometimes we don’t. Yesterday, in between my chest press and deltoids, we started discussing where we wanted to eat. I suggested the Brazilian churrascaria place across the road. I remembered it was cheap from some posters I saw.
Me: I think it’s around $28
K-Dubs: Dude if it’s that cheap then let’s do it.
Me: Let me check, (walks to the computers at the gym, googles “Brazilian + United Square.” Gets number. Apparently the Brazilian Embassy is also at United Square.)
Dials (The restaurant, not the embassy.)
Person on other end of the line: Hello Fiesta Brasilia.
Me: Hi, I was wondering how much your lunch buffet costs.
Person on other end of the line: $21.80.
Me: Oh wow, (says to K-Dubs) $21.80.
K-Dubs: (Pleasantly surprised look.)
Me: (Thinking there must be some catch for being so cheap) Uh do you have chicken hearts?
Person on other end of the line: Yes
K-Dubs: (To me) Pineapple?
Me: Do you have grilled pineapple?
Person on other end of the line: We do.
Me: We’ll be coming in for lunch.
The first thing I noticed about the place was that even though it looked festive it didn’t look “cheap.” The salad/hot bar was ordinary, if limited. But I liked that they had hearts of palm.
The first item that the passadors brought out, bacon wrapped chicken, was dry. I guess you get what you pay for. I passed on the roast chicken thigh that came next, thinking it would be dry as well. But K-Dubs and Cheryl (who joined us at the gym that day) said it was really good. The chicken hearts came. It’s the highlight of all my churrascaria meals. I asked for more and the passador was surprised and impressed that I liked them. But these were overcooked and had shriveled up. I guessed that they probably sat on the grill for a long time because no one wanted them.
Then there was the beef hump, it’s a weird name, but it was like brisket and it was delicious; beautifully browned in high heat and striated with charred fat. It went really well with the piquant chimichurri-like sauce they provided for the table.
After the hump was the rump, a semi-circle cut of beef with a thick layer of fat on its circumference. The first slice was medium-rare, but I saw the gorgeous rare meat that the large slicing knife revealed as it sliced off the exterior layer and I asked for that as well. Oh man it was good. Rare beef and charred fat really do it for me.
I tried the ham, but it was lackluster. I was surprised when they brought out nuggets of fried banana. It was fluffy and flavorful and it provided a very welcomed intermezzo between all the meat.
I got up to get more hearts-of-palm and beets, when I returned there was a piece of Snowfish on my bread plate. I was surprised again by how well it was cooked. Usually fish at these places are overcooked.
The chicken hearts returned, these looked so much better. I asked for more and the passador gave me half the skewer. These were plump and juicy with that pleasant chewiness to them that I love.
I passed on the sausage, like the ham it looked lackluster. I was starting to think about what I would like to have again to end my meal. Some garlic beef arrived and I acquiesced, just for a taste. It was good but I had to budget stomach space for more rump and chicken hearts. The grilled pineapple came, it was burnt. K-Dubs was disappointed. I had more rump and was feeling full. I got up to let gravity free up more space in my stomach (like de-fragmenting your computer,) but also to get a new plate.
The passador brought out another skewer of hearts for me. He placed his knife a third of the way up. I asked for more. He put his knife right at the very top. I think he was just joking. But I paused for a few seconds, calculating stomach capacity against when I would probably get to eat those delectable hearts again. And I said, “Sure, why not.”
The passador, with one fluid stroke, slid the entire row of hearts on to my plate.
I finished it all.
Another helping of pineapple came, I was feeling rather full at this point, but I couldn’t resist the properly caramelized pineapple. It was much better that the first. Then K-Dubs made a comment about how it would go well with ice cream. So I got up and got ice cream.
I had a boss whose motto was under-promise and over-deliver. I wasn’t expecting much for $21.80, but I was really impressed with what they delivered with that limited budget. I’ve been following a sort of “semi-timeline” for this blog. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t blog about this. I didn’t even have my camera with me. But when coffee and tea arrived, which is included in the meal, I was utterly charmed that they served Gryphon Tea, a gourmet brand. I was expecting generic Lipton. And to top it off, the chamomile came with a shot of honey. Cheryl who is a coffee fanatic said their coffee, which used Brazilian beans, was really good too.
In my time back in Singapore, I’ve been eating out a lot, which you’ll read about in due time. I have to admit that at first I was very excited with the dining scene here. It had grown so much since my time away in the States. But the problem with having excellent meals is that after a while I started going to restaurant expecting to be impressed, a sort of “I’m here now, give me your best shot” mentality. As a result its been some time since any restaurant has impressed me.
Fiesta Brasilia is a place that had all the factors to NOT impress. It wasn’t cheap, especially when you take into consideration that you can get excellent hawker food for less than $5. The food isn’t particularly great or refined. But it is relatively cheap; $20 for all that food, and all that meat is a steal. I was so full that I skipped dinner. It was like $20 for two meals! The food too, when they get it right, is good, on par with and sometimes exceeding other more expensive churrascarias that can be content with serving quantity and not quality. But it’s the little flourishes, like the fried bananas and gourmet tea that make this place so disarmingly charming, and therefore such a pleasure to dine at. Thank you for reminding me about how much fun it is to dine out.
101 Thomson Road
#B-15/16 United Square
Lunch from 11.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. (Finally a late lunch place so we don’t’ have to rush at the gym!) Dinner from 6 p.m. to 11p.m. daily.
P.S. They were playing a pretty groovy playlist at the place, I wished they played this song from the great Brazilian movie Elite Squad, it’s totally inappropriate, but it’s a rocking song: