No. 3Monai

TOP 30 PLACEMENT This year has not been an easy one for the chef and owner of Monai, Vytautas Samavičius. Second place in last year’s Top 30 brought joy – but also a great deal of attention. Vytautas says some people came, drawn by glowing reviews and full of personal expectations, but without having a good grasp of the concept behind the restaurant. Ultimately, says Vytautas, it helped him and his team to clarify their real aim. “Now, we don’t want to be the best. We want to be the most loved. And why should we be loved? For our warmth and consistency,” says the chef. With all of the ballots in from the Good Food Academy, Monus may have slipped to number 3, but it’s still the best restaurant on Lithuania’s coast.

Facts

Head chefVytautas Samavičius
His favourite spice  black and white pepper
Managing directorKristina Samavičienė
Type of cuisinefamily restaurant
Working hoursII-V 11:30-22:00, VI 11:00-22:00, VII 11:00-16:00
AddressLiepų g. 4, Klaipėda
Since2015
Capacity (seated)40 seats
Average hot dish priceEUR 16 (starter EUR 7)
Terracenot available
BreakfastSaturdays 11:00-13:00 and Sundays 11:00-16:00
Business lunchweekdays (I-V 11:30-14:00)
Dog friendlyyes

Place in 2016 No. 4
Place in 2017 No. 4
Place in 2018 No. 2

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.