By Bhamika Bhudia, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With Rio being a destination that attracts people from all over the world, sometimes never to leave again, one thing that tugs at the homesickness heartstrings is the hankering for food from all corners of the earth. While Brazilian cuisine is a South American delicacy of its own, Rio also offers some great options from the Asian continent.
It’s no secret that sushi is a Carioca favorite, and with Brazil having the largest number of Japanese expats, Japanese restaurants are scattered all over the city, particularly in Ipanema. If sushi-on-the-go is appealing, there are also a multiude of Temaki shops all over Zona Sul, Koni perhaps being the most prominent franchise.
Across the border from Japan, Chinese cuisine can also be found in Rio but normally in a mix of Chinese/Japanese restaurants. On the high end of the scale is Mr. Lam by Lagoa, which offers a range of Chinese dishes, with the classic crispy duck well recommended. On the other end of the scale in Catete is Wan Hua, a Chinese/Japanese combo which is simple but serves good food at good prices.
There is also a number of Asian fusion options, like the recently opened Mekong restaurant. This new addition to Leblon’s Rua Dias Ferreira culinary delights was opened in August by a Carioca-London couple. There is also the Opium restaurant under the Ipanema Plaza hotel on Rua Farme de Amoedo, which offers a wide variety of Thai and Asian influenced dishes.
As far as Indian restaurants in Rio go, they are few-and-far-between, but can still be found. A craving for a curry can be satisfied at Raaj Mahal in Botafogo, which serves over 50 classic Indian dishes. It opened in the eighties and is Rio’s oldest Indian restaurant boasting a range of chutneys and can provide food varying from mild to very spicy.
Middle Eastern restaurants are very popular in the city, so Arabic food is not difficult to find. Restaurante Arab in Copacabana offers a range of dishes accompanied with homemade pitta bread. It also serves Moroccan chicken, has hookah pipes and on Thursdays has live Arabic music and dancing to create a local Arabic atmosphere.
For the fans of falafel, a light and healthy option, this is also available in the city in Lebanese restaurant Amir, in Copacabana. Amir offers a varied menu and as well as buffet service and has won several awards in the culinary environment such as the O Globo , Rio Show’s Best Arabic restaurant every year between 2003 and 2008.
As the ends of the Earth are closer within reach now then ever before, so are the culinary delights that originate from them. Rio as a first class international city can quench almost any thirst, and refresh almost any palate regardless of continents or countries of origin of those who seek them.