[Brazil: Sao Paulo] Mani by Helena Rizzo - World's Best Female Chef

Rating: ❤❤❤❤1/2 (4.5/5)

If D.O.M. was dark and broody, then Mani was the complete opposite. Bright, elegant and feminine, the restaurant is set in a quaint house with white walls, pastel-colored decor and wooden furniture. We sat in the enclosed patio all the way in the back where it was like dining at a beach house complete with benches and gravel on the floor. With 1 Michelin Star and ranked #9 on Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2017, it's probably the second most well-known Sao Paulo restaurant abroad after D.O.M., and popular with locals and tourists alike. The chef is Helena Rizzo who was also named the World's Best Female Chef in 2014.

We came here for lunch on our last day in Sao Paulo and I was glad we had made a reservation because it was packed! The menu during the day is mostly a la carte but they do have set lunch and a shorter 5-course Season tasting menu as well. We opted for the Season menu (R$250 pp) as we weren't sure what to order at first and most of the dishes on the tasting menu are not available a la carte. 

The optional Bread Basket (R$23 pp) contains a bag of bread from the Mani Bakery, tapioca starch chips and 3 types of dip - cheese curd, goat cheese with pink peppercorns and butter. I'd highly recommended getting it because those big pieces of tapioca starch chips were simply irresistible! 

For our first course, we were each able to try a different dish. The Cashew Fruit Ceviche with cachaca and cajuina slush (traditional Brazilian non-alcoholic beverage made from cashew juice) was an immediate hit with its refreshing flavors! To be honest when I think of cashew, I only think of cashew nut but apparently in Brazil they prefer the fruit to the nut. Overall it was a very appetizing dish as the sweetness of the fruit was paired perfectly with the acidic and spicy ceviche dressing. 

The other appetizer was the Bonbon Trio in 3 flavors with foie gras, guacamole and smoked goat cheese. 

Next up was the Jabuticaba Cold Soup with cachaca-steamed crayfish, pickled cauliflower and amburana nuts. While I loved the bright gorgeous color of the soup, I was less convinced that the sweetness of it was the best way to bring out the flavors of the crayfish. They were each great on its own but I'm just not entirely sure of the combination. 

The Yellow Fish wrapped in elephant ear leaf with jack fruit and toasted Brazilian nuts was superbly executed. The texture and flavor of the fish were just right and this was gone from my plate in seconds.

Our next dish was a Chargrilled Octopus served with a pan of Chorizo Rice for the both of us to share. Both were excellent and I kept going for bites of the rice even as I was getting full (okay I was really picking out all the chorizo bits).

Our last savory dish was this succulent and flavorful Leg of Lamb with escalibada and Brazilian nut farofa.

We then ended our meal with this delightful Corn dessert served with peanut ice cream and caramel sauce.

We highly enjoyed our meal at Mani and it's definitely a restaurant I'd recommend visiting in Sao Paulo.

R. Joaquim Antunes, 210 - Pinheiros, São Paulo
Tel: +55 11 3085 4148

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