Last week happened to be the 7th of the 7th in the lunar calendar, marking the lantern festival. To celebrate that, a couple of friends and I decided to have dinner somewhere nice to commemorate the occasion. To that, we picked Navala on the Riverside, where we could appreciate the river view and enjoy a nice dinner with friends. As with my previous posts on buffets, I will try to keep my commentary to a minimum, and speak with my photos instead.
Outside the restaurant is a glass room with a rotisserie, with multiple meats on the grill. We really appreciated how the meat was being grilled whilst we waited outside for the rest of our group.
A menu was available at the door. We all agreed beforehand though, that we would be having the $53 dinner buffet.
I would like to make a mention to the peacock feather fans, which had me very impressed from the start.
I've heard other people comment about their dislike of the basic style of the furniture, but as far as I was concerned, it served its purpose well.
The ordering system at Navala is quite unique, they have a device on the table which you use to indicate whether or not you want more food. As long as you set it to the green "Sim Por Favor" ("Yes Please"), they will keep serving you food.
Each person was given a knife and fork, but interestingly, tongs as well. The only other instance where I have had tongs for a meal is during those DIY Korean or Japanese BBQs, given that that wasn't an option tonight, we were quite curious as to how this could be used.
Our selection of sauces came out first.
The sides started to come after that, first off came the salsa and potato salad. I found the salsa to be delightful and refreshing, but the potato salad was pretty average.
Beer battered chips, rice and deep fried banana also came. I absolutely loved the chips, as they were very crunchy and flavoursome. The rice was interesting, as it was slightly salted, which is different to the usual plain rice I am used to. As for the fried banana, I was quite unsure what to do with it, as I am used to eating it after the meal, I tried it and decided I would have enjoyed it better as a dessert.
We also had a serve of Carioca Beans, and some cheesy bread. I didn't like the texture of the beans too much, but enjoyed the cheesiness of the bread very much. It was definitely superior to the one I've previously tried at Che Asado.
Fresh green salad was also provided.
Our waiter came around next with a bowl of Piexe, which is coconut fish. I enjoyed the delicate coconut flavours, and appreciate how it wasn't exceptionally dried after being grilled.
We soon learned the use of our individual tongs, when the very friendly waiter came around with the Picanha (rump cap). He slices it off the skewer, whilst you hold onto the piece of meat. I really enjoyed this as it provided a very interactive method of dining throughout the evening.
The rump cap itself was very tender, and had a very meaty flavour. I note that it wasn't marinated very much though, which meant that we ate them with the condiments.
Next up came the Linguica (Brazilian spicy sausage). Thankfully, it wasn't too spicy. The skin wasn't too chewy, and the meat was quite firm. It reminded me of Kabana sausages a bit.
I also tried a Coraco De Frango (chicken heart), whilst some people may not enjoy eating organs much, I can honestly say that to myself, chicken heart tastes quite similar to a small cube of beef. I found this to be quite tender and nicely grilled.
Next was the Pernil de Porco (grilled pork leg). The meat was again quite tender, but we found the crackling skin to be tough and hard to chew.
Compared to the above meats, the Coxinha de Frango (Chicken Drumettes) were marinated quite nicely. I could taste quite a bit of the delicious honey that was used to grill it, which made it rather enjoyable.
The only lamb dish of the night came out subsequently. The Alcatra De Cordeiro (lamb rump), was a bit overcooked for my liking, which made it a bit drier and tougher than I would have liked.
The Camaroes (Garlic Prawn) were a really nice and light alternative to the heavy meats. Despite being grilled, they were still quite moist even though they were deshelled. I absolutely loved the strong garlic taste they were covered with.
Without a doubt, the best dish of the night was the Pancetta de Porco (pork belly). It had a wonderfully crispy crackling, and was covered with herbed butter to add to the flavour. I loved how the pieces were not too big, it meant more surface area to cover with the herbs.
Whilst the Pork Belly was definitely my favourite, I had actually expected to enjoy the Picanha Com Alho (Garlic Rump) immensely. It was a nice size, and was relatively pink on the inside. Unfortunately though, the meat was still very very chewy, and I couldn't really taste the garlic on the flesh.
The Costelinha de Porco (Pork Ribs) were evidently not served on a skewer. Rather they were served from a bowl. I am not exaggerating when I say that the meat fell off the bone. Whilst not entirely soft, the meat was definitely not chewy.
The savoury portion of our dinner was rounded off by grilled haloumi. It was one of the better ones that I've tasted, having minimal plastic-y texture.
Dessert was Abacaxi (cinnamon pineapple), which was both spicy and sweet and sour at the same time. The cinnamon really brought out the sweetness in the pineapple. It was a nice palette cleanser after all that heavy meat.
Being stuffed with food, we reluctantly turned the dial to Nao Obrigado (No Thankyou).
Price Range: $53 per person