The walk is ten, maybe fifteen minutes from the train station. My stomach is aching. My mood is turning a nice, even coat of annoyed, hungry, and grumpy. I’m about to break out in complaints of, “How much further is it?”
But as we walk past the bike shop, I see it – the yellow glow of a small shop. Inside, the warm light, low music, and a casual atmosphere remind me why I love Brazil. Country flags, signed jerseys, soccer balls, and Portuguese idols are tastefully placed throughout the restaurant. I wonder what it is about this churrascaria that makes it so special. I’m inside a local hideout, a Brazilian BBQ gem north of Yokohama and south of Tokyo. Located in Kawasaki, Chega+Mais is an authentic Brazilian BBQ – you won’t find many tourists here, and if you do, it’s because they heard it from me or someone else in the know.
The hump roast arrives first. The meat pulls apart with a slight touch of a fork. The salty, tender piece makes me salivate. The seasoning is spot on, and the temperature is perfect.
The servings keep coming. Until you cut off a waiter in Japanese (or Portuguese), they won’t stop feeding you. For the adventurous, the chicken hearts and pepper steak will make you wonder why you’ve ever eaten anywhere else. Save room for the famous cinnamon pineapple as well, since it’s one of the best ways to end your night.
The salad bar is small but noteworthy; if you can tear yourself away from the table long enough, make sure the feijoada is one of your first stops. In Brazil, feijoada is only made once or twice a week—this black bean and meat stew requires a long stewing process, and is served in small vats to hungry customers. At Chega+Mais, it’s readily available, and not to be missed. Surrounding the pork meat are bones, beans, and bits of meat.
I also ordered a caipirinha, made from lime, sugar, and Cachaça (alcohol made from sugarcane). Bold, flavorful, and insanely strong, this Brazilian drink is worth a taste. If you’re not in the mood for a mixed drink, a simple “chop” (draft beer) will do just fine. Then again, if you’re in for a long night, the nomihodai (unlimited drinks) option is also available, as long as everyone in your party gets it, too. With 12-15 tables, 2 private booths, and seating for about 42 people, you can make a reservation over the phone or on their website.
You can visit the other churrascarias that all the gaijin talk about; they’ll be flooded with tourists, which is fine. If you want the true part of Brazilian Japan that only the locals have seen, Chega+Mais is well worth the trip.
Chega Mais means “come over” in Portuguese. I was debating sharing this excellent spot with you because it was such a great secret. But just like with great food, it’s too good not to share.
Chega+Mais. 1F 1-4-16 Kaizuka, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken. Tel: 044-223-6711. Open Tues-Fri 5:30-11pm; Sat-Sun 12:00-3:00pm, 5:30-11pm; closed Mon. Cash only. Nearest station: Keikyu-Kawasaki . www.chegamais.co