Jan 9 2015



Latin American food scene is on the rise and at the moment there are already 2 Brazilian restaurants included in the St Pellegrino top 100 restaurants in the world list and there is a rumor that the Michelin guide is finally coming to Latin America next year to award their stars.  My boyfriend and I were visiting Sao Paulo for 2 days and we had to go to the 2 restaurants that were in the St Pellegrino top 100 restaurants in the world list – D.O.M. and MANI.


MANI is currently ranked the 36th best restaurant in the world by the St Pellegrino awards and one of the c0-chefs Helena Rizzo was awarded this year with Veuve Clicquot best female chef in the world award. She works in the kitchen with her Spanish husband Daniel Redondo (they met at El Celler de Can Roca (MMMMM)). I actually saw Helena in the restaurant when I was visiting it, she was putting finishing touches on all the dishes that went out to customers. These days I find it impressive when the famous chefs are actually in the kitchen and still cooking as a lot of them prefer to go on TV as opposed to cook.


MANI opened in 2006 and is a contemporary restaurant and very different to D.O.M. Both try to showcase Brazilian ingredients and cuisine, but MANI does it in a fun and contemporary way. The restaurant is located in Jardim Paulistano, one of the nice neighbourhoods of Sao Paulo. The restaurant is bright, full of colours, fun and when you see this bright décor, you think of Brazil.


We came to MANI for lunch and I was pleasantly surprised to see the restaurant full and also people eating here a la carte. Usually these high end top 100 restaurants these days only serve tasting menus, but at MANI you could order a la carte and chose from a wide range of starters and main courses, which is what most of the locals there were doing. We actually chose to have the tasting menu, their summer tasting menu, which cost 195 BRL (around £50), great value for 5 dishes. They also had a longer tasting menu, the signature one, but that was only available for dinner.


We absolutely loved the bread when it arrived. It arrived in a big bag that had something heavy at the bottom (you could not see it) that made the bag stand upright and it had these 2 amazing crackers and also sweeter sort of bread, which my boyfriend thought reminded him of a nicer croissant. The cracker was amazing, and we had too much of it as it was so nice and easy to eat. This bread was served with bread and butter, curdled milk and fresh goats cheese dips.


The first course of our tasting menu was a “Trio of bombons”, and it included a Guacamole bonbon with corn buiscuit, Fois gras bonbon with guava and porto wine and a gorgonzola bombon. My boyfriend and I both liked the guacamole bonbon the most, but all of them were delicious and the fois gras one was a close second favourite for me. They were made perfectly. Solid shape, but so soft when you ate them and bursting with flavor, and each of them had such a different, distinct flavor. They were great.


I also absolutely loved the next dish, “cashew ceviche”. The cashew did not come as nuts but the tropical evergreen that produces the cashew nut, and it was served in this ceviche type of sauce that reminded me more of Caipirinha as opposed to the traditional ceviche dressing. It was a warm day and the refreshing burst of caipirinha type of sauce with the soft cashews was the perfect thing to eat. Another extremely memorable and wonderful dish.


The third course on the menu was supposed to be a hot pea soup, but as the day was so hot, they had changed it, and instead served us a cold pink soup with prawns. I can’t remember what the pink soup was made out of, it was a typical Brazilian ingredient that I did not know, hence it was so new to me, but the taste was delicious. It had a slight tangy, savoury, citrusy taste to it, which I loved. Another star dish.


Next we moved on to hot dishes and the first one that arrived was the “roasted octopus on charcoal with sweet potato, smoked paprika and picada oil”. The quality of octopus was amazing, it was one of the most tender octopuses I have ever tried. As I was eating it, I was blown away, as it just tasted so much better than the average octopus you get. It was softer and more tender and had more flavor. My boyfriend loved this dish. Also the sweet potato did not taste of sweet potato that much, it had a slightly more savoury feel to it than sweet potato does and with the smoked paprika was a beautiful dish and a blend of Spanish and Brazilian (wife and husband) cooking.


The last savoury course was “rabbit rice with saffron and rabbit loin cooked under low temperature”. My boyfriend loved it, I found the dish slightly too strong-flavoured for me, but it was good. The rice with rabbit had a lot of flavor, it was powerful and the rabbit loin was amazing. It was so soft and tender and lovely, it did not taste of rabbit at all.


The desert was called “Motel California” and was a dish that had a mix of ice cream, chocolate, caramel and fruit. It looked pretty and tasted pleasant, but it was not a star dish.


My boyfriend and I both agree that food wise and experience wise we prefer MANI to D.O.M. Both restaurants had had a power cut the day before and were working with no power, but both of them took a completely different approach to it. We had not noticed MANI did not have any power until the end when we could not order any coffee as their coffee machine was not working. All the chefs were in the kitchen, cooking and the food was amazing and there was no sign of anything wrong. MANI does very refreshing, light and interesting food, full of Brazilian ingredients that are so unusual to a foreigner like me, which makes the meal very special and memorable.


Date: 09/ 01/ 15

Location: Sao Paulo

Price for 2 people, with a glass of wine: around £150


Maija rated: 



Rua Joaquim Antunes 210 Jd. Paulistano
São Paulo
MANI Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 5