Manuel Churrascaria serves northern Portugal-style charcoal-grilled dishes - pork, chicken and seafood - along with other traditional Portuguese cuisine. The restaurant itself is very cozy, seating around 20 persons, and it really creates the feeling of dining somewhere in the back streets of a Portuguese town.
We kicked off a recent visit with a refreshing Portuguese beer, Sangres, along with Portuguese-style boiled vegetables as a starter. The vegetables were quite a surprise! Although they seemed to be boiled quite simply in salt water, they were very tasty. The potatoes were firm in texture but not hard, and the cabbage was soft (but less soft than you'd find in stuffed cabbage), with a flavor that was somehow very soothing. Another starter was the bacalao (dried cod) croquette. Neither salt nor sauce was required, and the minced cod was loosely wrapped in a slighly crisp skin - a simple, warming dish that brought a smile to our face.
After the appetizers we switched to a massively full-bodied Portuguese red wine, recommended by our waiter to go with our charcoal-grilled pork spareribs. Like all the meats here, the spareribs are marinated with salt, pepper and garlic for two days before grilling. They come in a hefty portion that's big enough to share. Maybe because of the recipe, the flavor of the meat seems much less salty than what we often experience when eating French or Italian grilled dishes. We never get tired of eating these ribs, and the taste is quite addictive.
The charcoal-grilled chicken and the spicy African chicken, which was a popular dish in the former Portuguese colony of Macao, are also recommended. Of course the grilled dried codfish, one of the most popular dishes in Portugal, is exquisite! We finished off the meal with a sea bass risotto. Refreshingly flavored with coriander, this is a perfect dish for the summer months when one's appetite decreases, and it would also make a good remedy for a hangover!
After dinner, we wondered why we felt so comforted by all these dishes. We never have this feeling eating other European cuisines. We felt like we had had a conversation with a good friend who perhaps didn't have an aggressive personality, but was someone you'd like to talk with all night, and we wanted to stay at the table as long as possible. Budget around Y5000-6000 per person for dinner (Including drinks). Port wine, an after-dinner delight here, is served by the glass (from Y840) as well as by the bottle. Wines range in price from around Y3000-15,000/bottle.