Asia Hotel is a throwback to another era, when hotels hadn’t yet discovered the words “contemporary” and “trendy,” when it was all about mirrors, sprawling lobbies with ceilings low enough to touch, escalators and chandeliers. But that kind of kitsch feels very warm and welcoming in 2010, and it gets even better at Rio Grill “Brazilian Churrascaria.” The entire room is clad in wood and features heavy sweeping arches. The staff are in outrageous gaucho uniforms, wielding giant swords run through big chunks of meat, which they unload straight onto your plate. In our opinion, this is all much more fun than any overpriced five-star hotel steak house. The all-you-can-eat deal (drinks not included), starts with some canned tomato soup and a pretty sad salad bar. Who cares. You’re here to eat a ridiculous amount of dead animals. They’re served in succession, which allows for spot-on cooking as the chef only pulls his mighty swords from the flames when the meat is cooked just right. The grill is in the dining room so you’ll be able to witness this for yourself. Most of the meats suffer from overly powerful marinades, though. It’s a shame really, when say the tender, flavorful ostrich is overpowered by pepper. The chicken, oily on the outside and a tad dry on the inside, is also coated in a pungent sauce that makes it taste almost cured. For every dish, the waiters recommend one of the numerous sauces on the table, and they’re mostly spot on. The sirloin beef, with the jaew sauce, had us asking for seconds. When the grill master nails medium rare, it’s carnivore heaven. Just as tasty, the pork and lamb are shaved off a big chunk of meat, so that you get a piece of crispy skin and moist meat with each mouthful. You get the point, this is not a sophisticated place. (Waiters are diligent in a Thai-Chinese seafood joint kind-of-way—efficient but not exactly laying on the charm.) And you better have a serious appetite for meat, meat and more meat. But Rio Grill does the job on a very tight budget and we’d definitely go back when we’re as famished as a Brazilian horseman. Corkage B500.
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