Like last year, in this year’s list, the Samavičiai family can be proud to have even two their restaurants among the ten of the best of the best. This year, steak restaurant Momo Grill stands at place 10, while Monai, which was born later, is found even in place 4!
One of the best chefs in Lithuania, Vytautas Samavičius, had long dreamt about a place where you could spend an evening with your family, organise business meetings or just spend your time with friends, a place where the plates are full of improvisation, seasonal character and elegance. By the way, Monai is located on the same street, Liepų, as is Momo Grill.
In Monai, dishes are lighter, more subtle and more stylish than in the neighbouring Momo Grill. Here, Vytautas experiments more and looks for more diverse tastes and more interesting structures.
Besides, here, more fish dishes are served – you will always find at least 2-3 fish dishes and 1-2 meat options. However, even though the restaurant is located close to the sea, the owners bring fish from abroad. This is the only way for Vytautas and Kristina to ensure consistent supply of high-quality products, instead of relying on fishermen’s luck. Here, fish is prepared fresh, i.e. cooled, and is first of all kept on the ice in vacuum. Those who understand that, appreciate this method.
This year, a novelty in Monai – a little different concept of the menu. The menu now includes more dishes meant for sharing. Plus, it includes more one-bite dishes intended for larger groups of visitors. With such a novelty, the owners confirm their original idea of creating a space where people would feel as if at a somebody’s place, when they are sincerely taken care of, when everything is shared, etc.
By the way, the kitchen here is even more open than that in Momo Grill, because there is only a glass partition between visitors and the kitchen masters. Thus visitors, practically, sit in the kitchen. This is just another feature which helps to create a free and cosy home environment in the restaurant.
The restaurant’s owners pay a lot of attention to desserts. Towards the end of the dinner, the staff offer a tray with desserts telling about each of them separately. In the recent year, it became clear which desserts were most popular, and now they are always on the tray, and only one position of desserts out of six changes every time. By the way, the menu now includes one dessert intended for vegans. Another novelty among desserts this year – ice-cream with malt, which was created after numerous experiments with ice-cream and beer. Visitors have “approved” this dessert, and you can now taste it only in Monai.
Vytautas has been on internships and worked in restaurants abroad, including Noma of Copenhagen which has been acknowledged the best restaurant of the world several times. When he returned to Lithuania, V. Samavičius was probably the first among the renowned kitchen chefs to open his own catering place back in 2010. Before Momo Grill and Monai, he and his wife Kristina owned “a bistro with a creative cuisine” – La Cle. Even before that, he worked as the chef in Navalis hotel as well as in restaurants Skandalas and Radisson Blu.
The menu of Momo Grill is simpler, with dominant classical dishes of grilled meat. While Monai is more sophisticated and is looking for more elegance, subtlety of after-tastes and aesthetics on the plate. By the way, the restaurant also serves tasting dinners if booked in advance.
Recently, the owners had to reduce their wine list with an aching heart – residents of Klaipėda are not big fans of wine. The wine culture is coming to this region quite slowly. Thus, alongside the dishes, the restaurant also offers craft beer from local breweries and the iconic beer Raudonų Plytų (Red Brick).
Last year, Monai served breakfast only on Sundays, while this year they also serve it on Saturdays. The breakfast menu includes several dishes made from eggs (for instance, an Eggs Benedict and an omelette) as well as various pancakes, ravioli with different fillings, soup and even a few main courses for brunch.
The Samavičiai family looked for a name for this restaurant for a long time, however, it was not born naturally. Thus the couple asked for help from colleagues from the creative agency New. They suggested the name Monai. This is the word that Samogitians use to call “romping around”. However, friends like to joke that Vytautas secretly dedicated his third restaurant to his wife (Lithuanian: “žmona“).
The Samavičiai family had a building in mind for the restaurant for a long time, however, it was not easy to persuade the owner to lease the building for a restaurant. Finally, a deal was made, and currently all the parties are happy. Before that, this building used to house a prosecutor’s office, and the premises of the current kitchen used to house the mysterious black room.