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Tuesday, October 25, 2011


The breakfasts at the Windsor Excelsior (left) are okay, as I can only have a snack, sacrificing for a fabulous lunch, which today was one of those experiences worthy of a movie.

I was asked by Fernando, the local guide, if I like Japanese food, so I said sure.  He recommended two.  I also went to the internet and found three more, just in case.  He told me the name and said that Madonna went there, but did not write it down, so when I entered the cab, all I could provide was the address.  Alas, the driver could not find it.  So on to the second Madonna Japanese restaurant, Yume.  Traffic was terrible.  Worse, Yume serves lunch only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  By now it was 1:20PM, but I had Madame Butterfly on the list, which  was the highest rated Japanese restaurant in Rio.  We could not find it because the name had changed.  So we went back past my hotel at 1:35 to Princess Tanaka. Yikes, no one, was eating there, and the place looked like a dump, so, finally to recommendation #5, on Fernando's list, the final one, at close to 2PM:

Sushi is not high on my list of enjoyable foods, as I don't like vinegared rice.  Something to do with contracting food poisoning from sushi way in my past.  I walked into the equivalent of the Intergalactic Bar in Star Wars, not in the way you think, but just in the cultural shock of expecting the worst, and facing an overcrowded sushi bar with more than 75 people, me being the only Japanese (including staff) and the oldest person by a quarter century.  I would guess that 80% of the clientele was less than 40.  I was asked to sit at the sushi counter as all the tables were taken.  The din of discussion exceeded any OSHA code, and I was totally out of my element.  

Their efficiency was incredible, as I was given two menus, somehow ordered a cold local beer and hot and cold Brazilian sake, even though I don't think anyone understood me.  These came almost immediately.

I selected miso soup, rice, teppanyaki skewers of filet:

plus a plate of foie gras and seared tuna sushi:

This was the best combination I've ever had in a sushi.  If I someday had a last meal to select, this could well be it.  

For dinner, Estrela do Sul Churrascaria, where the meal starts with a sumptuous salad bar, followed by those servers carrying around skewers of a dozen (could have been two) different kinds of meats.  That's Arnold of Alabama watching the performance.  Good tasting steak, but dangerously filling.

I would rate this as a second rate churrascaria, which, by the way, is a good time to compare Globus versus Tauck.  Our hotel is the Windsor Excelsior ($280/night), an old second rate hotel.  The Tauck people stay at the J.W. Marriott ($600/night).  Our hotel has a cathode ray TV set, the kind that is deeper than wide and much of what I washed and hung to dry does not dry the next morning.  However, the hotel is adequate.  I just hope the future hotels are better.

Well, next, the group went on to what was called the greatest folklore show, a SAMBA extravaganza, at:

Well, I saw at least half the show, as I fell asleep.  But the ending was close to midnight, long past my current bedtime.

I've strengthened my contention that Rio de Janeiro is the best city in the world.  Number two?  Not sure.


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