WHY VISIT? Monai is a cosy, home-cooking restaurant in the sea port of Klaipėda, where fresh, simple, high-quality food is served à la carte. Here, you feel like you’re in someone’s home – a glass divider is all that separates the kitchen from the diners. This creates a unique atmosphere of trust in the food that is being served. “A kitchen without secrets,” is Vytautas’ succinct description of Monai. In addition, there is exceptional service, the creative flair of the chef, subtle elegance on the plate, and a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
BRIEF MENU DESCRIPTION This year’s menu boasts an even greater array of colours; not the visible kind, but subtle shades of flavour. Unusually for a home-cooking kitchen, the chef has begun to employ a more varied selection of spices, from local to Eastern.
“I needed to find another way,” says Vytautas. “Lithuanian chef Tomas Lidakevičius, who has settled in London, helped me with this. We prepared a really unique dinner together. Thanks to him, I saw the world of spices in a new light. That is how the Monai kitchen became more interesting.”
Dishes at Monai are lighter, more subtle and stylish than at Vytautas’ other project, Momo Grill. There’s also more fish – at least two or three choices are on the menu, along with one or two meat dishes. Every morning, naturally fermented sourdough bread is baked. The restaurant’s desserts – one of the most frequently changing features of Monai’s menu – deliver the kind of je ne sais quoi that keeps regular customers coming back for more.
CHEF Vytautas Samavičius trained and worked at numerous restaurants abroad. Among them was Noma in Copenhagen, several times voted the best restaurant in the world. Returning to Lithuania in 2010, Vytautas can be considered the country’s first truly international award-winning chef. Before he launched Momo Grill and Monai, Vytautas owned and worked in the creative kitchen bistro La Cle with his wife Kristina. Before that, he worked as a chef at the hotel Navalis, Skandalas and at the Radisson Blu restaurant in Klaipėda.
This year, Vytautas has reached a certain professional maturity, he says, and is now able to give his dedicated team more freedom to make decisions.