Samui Wining & Dining
Fun, fantasy and fabulous food at Zico’s Brazilian Grill & Bar.

Fun, fantasy and fabulous food at Zico’s Brazilian Grill & Bar.

Imagine this. Take a 5-star hotel that already has three excellent restaurants. Select a generous handful of their fully trained underchefs and kitchen staff. Handpick some of their best Englishspeaking waiting staff. Bring in an international chef to oversee it all. Move them into a grand venue that’s lofty and spacious, with a big air-conditioned room, as well as an enclosed courtyard and cosy bar. Select the best imported cuts of beef and lamb, plus pork, fish and seafood. Prepare these, marinate them, and spike them on yard-long skewers over a bank of charcoal grills to cook. Add a banqueting table that has more than 70 plates of soups, salads, cold cuts, dressings, toppings and dips. Add another table with hot dishes of potatoes, fries, gratin, feijoada, grilled and marinated vegetables and stews. Charge one set price of 899 baht for all you can eat, all night. And add a couple of very lively, beautiful Brazilian dancers. How does this sound?


Well, to those in the know it sounds exactly like Zico’s! To call it a ‘buffet’ would be misleading. This is the mother and father of all buffets – tables groaning under their lavish loads and passing ‘passadors’ laden with sizzling lances of meats. This is unique. Indeed, the entire ethos here is unique. Firstly the building itself is dramatic. The high concrete exterior, flanked by Greek-style pillars, doesn’t prepare you for what’s inside. You’ll enter up a broad set of stone steps – and find yourself suddenly in a courtyard that’s open to the sky. To your right there’s a pleasant elevated bar, and on the left is the large airconditioned glass-sided main dining room.


Even arriving early in the evening, there’s an air of conviviality. At around 6:30 pm or so, it’s still quiet, with one or two tables taken, but there’s still that same air of cheerful purpose that becomes more obvious later on. You’ll also get a surprise when you count the tables, too. Astonishingly there’s comfortably enough room to seat up to 130 diners, but you’d never think so; there’s a snug, private feeling about it all, no doubt due to the subtle layout and lighting.


Fun, fantasy and fabulous food at Zico’s Brazilian Grill & Bar. Khun Supaporn Nounching is the Sales & Public Relations Manager at Zico’s, a position that spins off from her role over the road at the prestigious Centara Grand Beach Resort. And now you’ll begin to understand the opening comments about 5-star standards and service as, although it’s no secret, few people realise that Zico’s is actually Centara Grand’s fourth restaurant. “This is really a ‘churrascarian’ barbecue,” she explained, “a typical way of presenting the cooked meat, that’s carried on long skewers amongst the tables by servers known as ‘passadors’ who will slice it hot, directly onto your plate. We only offer the best prime imported Australian sirloin, strip loin or Brazilian-style ‘picanha’. But don’t expect your steak to look like it normally does, as all the meat and poultry is pre-marinated and rolled onto the skewers before being cooked. Plus,” she added, “there’s also duck, chicken, pork, fish and seafood that includes tiger prawns, mackerel and Norwegian salmon, and additionally two selections of barbecued vegetables, making a total of 17 different roasts in all.”

There are other up-market restaurants on the island that feature a Latin theme or have a salsa night, but Zico’s is the only truly Brazilian restaurant here. The background music, naturally, is Latin-American, but you’ll be in no doubt as to the integrity when eight o’clock comes around. By this time, more diners have somehow been melting continually into place without you noticing. And, happily, everything’s not only well organised but very laid-back, too, with instant re-grouping of tables and chairs when a large group shows up unannounced, which many do. But, at 8:00 pm, there’s a double flounce of fantastical feathers that coincides with a sudden up-tempo samba beat, and the two Brazilian dancers appear with a flurry.


Pairs of dancers are brought over on special contract from Brazil on a regular basis, rotating back again after a short but intense period. And the amount of energy that goes into their performances has to be experienced to be believed. They’ll appear for 20 minutes then take a break, coming back on again at the top of the next hour, at 9:00 pm, and again at 10:00 pm. “But that’s not the only Brazilian flourish,” continued Khun Supaporn. “We have a week of festivity every September which has previously included the attendance of the Brazilian Ambassador, as well as visiting speciality chefs. And then we always let off steam with celebrations such as Halloween for instance, when everyone, including all the staff, will go to town on their costumes. The staff here are very lively – see if you can spot them at the end of the evening . . . sometimes they’ll leave what they’re doing and join in with the dancers at the end of their last set!”


One of the problems with a buffet is that, sometimes, people don’t want to keep on eating all evening. Or simply can’t put away so much food. So it will come as pleasant news to perhaps those of you with children, that there is a special allowance for this at Zico’s. If you request it, you can sit in for the night, but without the cooked foods from the passadors. And for those with smaller appetites, there’s more than enough variety on the salad and side dish tables to keep you going back and forth with top-ups. And for just 400 baht, this is great value. And don’t forget to combine this with the happy hour from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, where all drinks are ‘buy one, get one free’.


One way and another everything here at Zico’s is pretty exciting. And if you’re just too full and contented to get up and shake a tail feather yourself, not to worry – there’s a couple of very athletic young ladies always willing to do so on your behalf!


 Rob De Wet


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