Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mani (Jardim Paulistano)

Rua Joaquim Antunes, 210
Jardim Paulistano

May 16, 2009
So cute. One of my student's mother's took Janhavi and me to this super-sweet restaurant just south of Jardims, where I am looking for a new apartment for next year. I've probably passed this street a million times, but I thought it was just a commercial area. Turns out there are restaurants there, too.

It's a very Brasilian restaurant...codfish appears on the menu (that's the "is it Brasilian?" test. Heart of palm, beets, risottos, gnocchi, and "mani"oc are all there. I had the beet risotto...I was chocked when out same this bright pink bowl/plate of mushy rice. BUT, it tasted delicious. It was like nothing I have ever eaten before. Sheyla and Janhavi had the Bacalhau a Braz. The presentation of the dish itself was absolutely stunning...and it tasted even better.

Dessert won't be able to choose. We tried the "espuma de nutella" (accompanied by ginger ice cream that HAD to have been homemade)...but will definitely try "o ovo" next time.

But really, you can't beat the atmosphere in this restaurant. Cozy, warm, bright.

Can't wait to go back for dinner.

February 7, 2010

My friends and I finally made it to Mani after talking about it for ages. They are open for lunch on Sundays from 12-5 and we decided to meet there around 6. When I got there at 3, there were tons of people and we were told it would be over an hour. Considering that it took us so long to finally coordinate this outing, we were in for the long haul.

That wasn't so bad for us, actually, as it gave us the chance to do one of the things we do best...people-watch. And this is a great place to do it. It's VERY chic, and this is where you can find some of the most beautiful people in SP. It also gave us a chance to try some of their special caipirinhas. I tried the Caipriroska Mani, which tasted like a beach drink. Flavors like passionfruit, pineapple, mango, and starfruit with Absolut. I drank the whole thing, and usually I am not such a huge drinker. The other flavors were hit or miss...there's a pepper-red fruits caip that Janhavi said tasted like cough syrup and everyone pretty much agreed. But she traded it for a "special lemon-lime" caip and that was delicious.

It was really tough to decide what to get b/c everything looked so good. In the end, Cristina and I ordered the root vegetables in coconut milk, Janhavi ordered the lamb, Mary ordered the roast beef, and Andrea ordered the fish of the day (they were out of tuna...why is Sao Paulo always out of tuna? we lamented). Each dish was great...the roast beef and the lamb probably coming out on top. The potato crostada side that came with the fish was delicious. Our root vegetables, while tasty and hearty, paled in comparison to the other dishes on the table, especially the lamb, which CAME with root vegetables.

For dessert, we were so full that we couldn't bear to order one more thing. But we did anyway. We opted for what they called the "chocolate flan", but was really more like a mousse. It came in the cutest presentation (a small jar with a Mani sticker on it.).

I'm glad we went, but I definitely didn't appreciate the long wait. The service was friendly, but slow. That just might the case for all the tables all the time, but we were definitely ready to eat and feeling it. Next time, I would try to go with a reservation.

La Gloria Pizza Bar (Moema)
Av. Macuco, 685

Although it's a pizza bar, La Gloria isn't just about pizzas. This restaurant that has it all -- good food, beautiful bar, and terrific ambiance.

The place is beautiful. This restaurant has a RETRACTABLE roof. Seriously. On a cool evening, the roof opens up to the residential skyline of Moema. Not extremely beautiful, but an ambiance that makes you feel urban and neighborly at the same time. Plus, when the wind blows just the right way, it's almost better than air-conditioning.

I love an open kitchen. It makes me feel a little safer to know that my food is being prepared for everyone to see...I watched pizzas being made in their wood ovens all night long from our upstairs table.

The food was good, too...surprising in a place that could get away with below-average tastes. The pizzas are fresh, the dough is spot-on. There are other options, too...but besides the bruschetta (huge, and lots of of variety on one plate) and the fried calamari, we didn't need much else to keep us satisfied.

Go for the roof, come back for the food.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lamen Kazu (Liberdade)
R. Thomaz Gonzaga, 51

This weekend, Paulistas are celebrating the Chinese New Year in Liberdade. Yes, Liberdade is the Japanese part of town, but the two cultures collide in certain corners of the neighborhood. It's the Chinese Year-of-the-Dragon, and I hope that means one thing and one thing only...less rain in Sao Paulo.

I have been to Aska, another noodle-house in Liberdade, but my Japanese-Canadian friend, Mary, said that she found another place that was just as good. She definitely hit the mark. Lamen Kuzo has a different, slightly more upscale vibe than Aska. But it's not really upscale at all...just in comparison. The menu is similar...lots of different kind of lamens with different broths....but if you are still a bit confused, there's a decent English menu they will hand you whether you request it or not (if they hear you speaking English, that is!). Noodle bowls range in price from 17-25 Reais.

I opted for the Shoyu Tyashu. The noodles are thick and hearty...even a little chewy, in a good way. I'm not the most expert or avid pork-eater, but this particular bowl came with FOUR slices of pork. I had a small bite of one...I still don't really get how you eat a big slice of pork with chopsticks and a soup spoon. The dish was tasty...not overly powerful with any one flavor, but a nice simple taste of Japanese soul food in a bowl.

We also sampled the guioza, but I still insist that Mary's homemade ones are better than I have had in any restaurant. Ever.

Mary and Janhavi shared a cold noodle dish...and on a hot day, this actually seemed like the perfect option. Fresh veggies in a smooth and savory sesame-based sauce made the simple noodle dish pretty complex in texture and flavor...I would definitely try that sometime.

On a total non-foodie note, but almost as important (as I am a sucker for a nice, clean bathroom), definitely don't miss the ultra-modern toilet in the ladies' room (I didn't see what was in the men's bathroom, unfortunately). All I will say is that it was the most hi-tech toilet I have ever seen outside of someone's home. Worth a visit.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bar do Juarez (Itaim Bibi)
Av. Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek, 1164

Itaim Bibi (also locations in Moema, Brooklin, and Pinheiros)

You can't get more boteca than this. My friends and I were entertaining an out-of-town guest and wanted to take him the "most Brazilan" place we knew. Bar do Juarez was it.

We had a hankering for picanha, and the sizzle didn't disappoint. The beer is cold, the atmosphere is bustling (sitting on the sidewalk, fumes are free), and the fried foods don't stop coming. If you're a vegetarian, there are not too many options other than Palmito Pastels...but the picanha is so tasty you might just change your mind!

Yogen Fruz (Bela Vista)
Shopping Paulista
Rua 13 de Maio, 1947 – Piso Paraíso
In front of the panoramic elevators

What a great find! I hadn't been to Shopping Paulista until today, and I was so happy to see yet another frozen yogurt store in the neighborhood. Of course, it's in the mall (not so spectacular)...but it's been raining so much it's nice not to have to wait in a long line in the rain! And what a line it was...about 20 people deep the entire time I was there.

It's the same, yet different. The lowfat tart yogurt is delicious. You have the option of smoothies (which look awesome) or - -and I haven't seen this in SP -- a sort of make-your-own fruit flavor yogurt. In addition to regular fresh fruit toppings, they have frozen fruits available to "mix in" to the plain yogurt. So, you can have FRESH mango frozen yogurt made right for you. I definitely will be back to try it.

Best part of Yogen Fruz? One topping is 1 real, but 3 toppings are only 2 reais. Makes you want to pile it on and enjoy the freshness of it all.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pao de Queijo (Jardins)

Pao de Queijo
Rua Haddock Lobo, 1408
Jardins (near Oscar Freire)

After reading all of the reviews of this tiny little bakery, I had to try the most famous pao de queijo in Sao Paulo. So, wandering around my neighborhood one day, I finally stopped in.

Short review: The pao de queijo really is delicious. It's very artsy in its shape...not the regular rolled-up-in-a-ball pao. It's free-form, huge, and cheesey. I got two, but could've managed with just one. Make sure to get them when they're fresh. :)

Ping Pong (Itaim Bibi)

Ping Pong
Rua Lopes Neto, 15
Itaim Bibi

I'd been wanting to try out this dim sum restaurant for while...ever since I read a review of it on Alexandra Forbes' blog, Brazil for Insiders. Finally, last weekend, some friends and I finally met for a late lunch at the new eatery.

The menu is fun...especially the drinks. With ingredients like lemongrass and goji berries, the non-alcoholic drinks are original and refreshing. On a hot day, they're perfect. They also have "flowering" teas and a menu of party-named cocktails. It would be a shame to order water or Coke in this place!

We were starving when we sat down, so we ordered some wasabi peas and candied pecans to start. We were all being very polite with how much we took, but I think each of us could have eaten the entire bowls all alone!

But on to the dumplings...we each chose two dishes and shared them among the four of us. Our favorites were the seafood sticky rice, the pork shu mai, prawn toast, and the grilled pork. The only problem we had was that each order came with only 3 "unidades", or pieces. So, we suggest only bringing 2 friends with you to lunch. (Or some multiple of 3!) Needless to say, we ordered more when the first round was done. The meal was so tasty...flavors you don't get to eat everywhere in Brasil.

The restaurant itself is chic and beautiful...very modern and sleek. The chairs are actually stools, and they come with a little shelf underneath on which to put your purse. The service was quick and friendly. You can even sit at the bar and watch the chefs at work.

My only gripe is that it is a bit pricey...we each spent about $50 for lunch...not THAT bad, but the portions are small and you'll want to eat a lot! The waiter suggested to order 4-5 dishes per person...and if you're hungry, that's not a bad suggestion.

We left the restaurant talking about how we would come back soon. :)