Who has the best Brazilian Churrascaria in Seoul?
by Manuel Lara
What exactly is a Churrascaria, you might ask? Churrascarias are Brazilian style all-you-can-eat steak houses. Churrascarias typically offer a variety of meats, which have been strategically placed on long skewers and are slowly roasted over hot burning charcoal. The grilled items usually include: Picanha (rump cover steak - a cut of beef which in many countries is considered to be the best part of the steer), sirloin steak, sausage, chicken and, depending on the Churrascaria, other items which can range from chicken hearts to lamb, turkey, potatoes, or pineapples. Unlike a buffet, at a Churrascaria the food is brought to your table and keeps coming at you until you politely tell the waiters/chefs (gaucho chefs), that you are done, or until you simply turn your green table marker over to the red side indicating that you are satisfied and/or in danger of a ruptured stomach. Now that you know what a Churrascaria is, let’s move on to the important part: Which ones are the best, how much do they charge, and where can you find them in Seoul?
4. Sao Paolo (Daehangno)
The restaurant is located almost directly across the street from Hwehwa station exit 1. Go down the alley next to the Puma Shop. The décor and atmosphere is very pleasant. They do a nice job of making you feel like you are in an authentic Brazilian restaurant. They sat my friend and I in one of these cozy quasi-romantic booths with curtains. My take: fair prices, nice atmosphere, quaint and decent food, and for the price of one beer you get free refills all night. The downside: they are slow to bring the meat refills to you, and the buzzards/call bells were not working when I was there, so I didn’t quite have my fill, but at least I didn’t leave filling unsatisfied. I would categorize this as a good Korean version of a Brazilian Churrascaria; not as authentic as the others I have been to, but still the quality of meat is quite good.
Phone: 02-764-6079--Reservations highly recommended on weekends (no website available)
Hours: 4pm-11pm (last guest accepted at 9pm)
Cost: 25,000 wan (+10% VAT)
3. Brasilia (3 locations: all south of the river)
Brasilia has 3 major locations all relatively close to one another. This restaurant is not a traditional Churrascaria with the long spears of meat thinly sliced off onto your plate, nor does it have the vast array of meats to choose from. Yet, this place has quality-grilled beef in unlimited amounts. Initially, you are separately served 3 different choice cuts of steak: Top sirloin, flank, and skirt steak. After you have eaten your way through these three, you may continue feasting to your hearts delight choosing from any of the steaks. They serve the meat fairly quickly, you need only wave your hand or make eye contact and a waiter will rush over to ask if you want #1, #2, or #3 next. The side dishes are pretty much the same as at most Brazilian places: the typical salad, potato salad, garlic rice, spicy orange steak sauce (this is quite special), and a kind of Brazilian style Pico de Gallo sauce. The official website is under construction: www.bfr.co.kr
Phone: 02-533-6888 (Gangnam station branch) Reservations are highly recommended. For information on the other branches and directions see: http://wiki.galbijim.com/Brasilia
Hours: 4:30-10:30 (M-F), 12-9:30 (wknds)
Cost: 25,000 wan (No VAT)
2. Ipanema: (either City Hall station or Seodaemun station will get you there)
Ipanema has a special place in my heart in much the same way a first kiss or first girlfriend does. It was here that I had my first experience with the “Brazilian Churrascaria”. The novelty of having Brazilian waiters carrying giant spears of varying meats, and slicing it off onto your plate with large carving knives is something that will likely never wear off. Unlimited amounts of rump steak, chicken drumsticks, lamb, sausage, pork, roast beef, turkey, garlic steak, potatoes, and pineapple is what you will find at Ipanema. All of it is prepared under the watchful eyes of mostly Brazilian chefs, and is cooked rotisserie style over hot coals; the chefs double up as cooks and servers. The interior decoration, however, is reminiscent of a sports bar complete with large screen TV. Actually, I find this look appropriate for a casual buffet style restaurant like VIPS or Marche. In fact there is even a salad bar buffet, which is something all the other Churrascarias don’t have. Those who need more than just meat for their meals will find this very convenient, as they offer salad, spaghetti, Japanese soba noodles, sushi, fries, kimchi, and various other condiments.
Phone: 02-779-2756--Reservations recommended
Hours: 11:30-2:30 (Lunch), 5:30-10:00 (Dinner)
Cost: 18,700 (Lunch), 28,600 wan (Dinner)
1. Mercado (Apgujeong station, exit 3 and take taxi or walk)
Mercado is by far my favorite choice for quality unlimited beef. My one major gripe is that it is a bit of a hassle to get to if you don’t have a car. With that being said, everything else about this place is great, in particularly, their beef and the price. At only 25,000 won per person, this place is a bargain. The beef is excellent, you get a choice of 5 cuts: sirloin, flank, veal, bacon wrapped beef, and the traditional Picanha. In addition they offer chicken, chicken hearts, sausage, pineapple, and the normal Churrascarian side dishes. Besides their beef, they also have an excellent spicy red Brazilian steak sauce which is quite unique among the other places mentioned in this article.
Phone: 02-515-3288--Reservations highly recommended
Cost: 25,000 wan (+10% VAT)