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25. January 2016: Restaurant Zuka

| March 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Restaurant Zuka was recommended to me by friends who live in Rio and I must say – good recommendation. I had booked a table for 7pm which is basically when the restaurant opens. As I was there a couple minutes before 7pm, I was asked to take a stroll as they were not really open yet. However, once you arrive and think you’ll be the only person in the restaurant you figure, Brazilians (and tourists) seem to eat quite early.

I decided to go for the “Degustation Menu” (230 BRL) which was definitely a great idea. There is no description of the menu but you are informed that there will be three seafood dishes, three meat dishes, and a dessert and all courses are usually on the menu.

The first course served that evening was “seared tuna with heart of palm tagliatelle in horseradish milk infusion sauce” (which usually accounts for 76 BRL). The tuna was fine but the palm tagliatelle were really interesting and the black dots provided the whole dish with an outstanding aroma.


Secondly, the “garlic bread crusted shrimp with Sicilian lemon risotto” was served (usually 110 BRL). While I absolutely liked the idea of the “garlic bread crust”, the shrimp was a bit too dry for my personal gusto. The lemon risotto was of interesting flavour, however, definitely a bit too strong in lemon taste.


The “octopus in parma vinaigrette and sautéed potatoes with fresh parsley” (usually 94 BRL) was an amazing idea and was taste-wise absolutely lovely. However, the “parma vinaigrette” is basically vinaigrette with pieces of roasted parma ham. While this is amazing in taste, unfortunately, the parma ham was roasted too much so it became overly crunchy. On the other hand, the octopus could also have been cooked a bit less as it was at the edge of being chewy.


The first meat course was “honey glazed duck breast, Moroccan couscous, sultanas and roasted almonds” (usually 77 BRL) and while the duck breast was tender and did not really taste like duck (in the sense that it did not have an intense duck flavour), the couscous was aromatic but a bit too dry too.


I haven’t figured what “ghee” stands for in the “tenderloin steak in herbal ghee with goats’ cheese risotto and crunchy leeks” (usually 76 BRL) but it was definitely lovely. The tenderloin was tender, the ghee was aromatic and the goats’ cheese risotto was perfectly finished with the crunchy leek. Another lovely dish!


One of the best courses in my opinion was the “foie gras experience: citric, sweet and savory” (usually 74 BRL). The foie gras itself was a bit too much grilled but the combination with the citrus flavours and the liquid meringue was amazing. The smoothness of the foie gras with the intense yet sweet flavours – lovely!


While the dessert definitely looked disappointing, it wasn’t! The “cream of egg yolks, roasted walnuts and cinnamon ice cream” (usually 26 BRL) looked like ice cream only but the egg yolk on the bottom of the dish combined with the cinnamon flavour and the roasted walnuts definitely made it a perfect ending to the dinner.


The Zuka is a place which is rather long and was surprisingly full for a Monday evening. In any case, the interior design is nice and makes you feel comfortable although the chairs are not at the top of the comfort zone.


The waiters do a good job as they are attentive, friendly, and try their best to help you in English but most of them are not really able to speak any other language but Portuguese (which is a bit surprising, given the amount of foreigners I saw that evening).


I had ordered a bottle of ” Catalpa, Malbec, 2013″ (150 BRL) which seemed to be somehow off. It didn’t have cork but something was definitely wrong with the wine. When I asked for the sommelier to try it, he changed it immediately without hesitation or making a fuzz about it.


What I like a lot about the place is that you can see the chefs cook – you can actually watch them doing their job (or at least some of them) which is always a good sign and if you are interested in following the whole process, I’d recommend you to book a table at the counter.


While the prices for the single dishes seem to be relatively high, the price for the menu is incredibly fair! While you would pay 533 BRL if you’d order each dish individually, you only pay 230 BRL for the menu! What a bargain! And the dishes are very tasty! The prices are also fair for the water (i.e. 0,75L, Agua das Pedras, 15 BRL). Besides that, although there is a cover charge (I assume for bread and spread which was not served as we had the menu) which was also not charged (16 BRL usually).

All in all, the first dinner in Rio de Janeiro was definitely a success. Great place, lovely dishes, good service, and very fair price performance ratio. If you decide to dine here, make sure you book a table in advance!


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Contact Details:

Restaurant Zuka

Rua Dias Ferreira 233B


22431-050 Rio de Janeiro (BR)

Tel.: +55 21 32 05 71 54

Homepage: http://www.zuka.com.br

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.
710.08 BRL (incl. tip) Filed in: Restaurants, Rio de Janeiro (BR)

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