Michelin Guide ★: Lasai Restaurante, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


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Lasai is a modern and elegant Basque-inspired restaurant headed up by Chef Rafa Costa e Silva. It features local ingredients, and one of the most exceptional interpretations of vegetable dishes I’ve ever tried. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!

When we first arrived, we were ushered to the rooftop bar which was lit with fairy lights and where we enjoyed our drinks before our meal. It was lovely and romantic, and we had such a great time, we forgot to take photos of it. But be sure to check it out when you’re there.

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When we were seated, they served up these colourful morsels of what I presumed to be amuse bouche. Let’s go clockwise from the top left — Herb Sandwich, Green Tomato with Pickle, Okra Pancake, Pumpkin Cauliflower.

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I absolutely loved how much effort went into each delicious bite-sized morsel. The textures and flavours in each one were so distinctive I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. And we were just getting started.

Our next appetiser — Carrot Leaf Bun with Carrot and Carrot Powder

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All parts of a carrot turned into this unique creation. I’d never had a carrot leaf bun, nor enjoyed carrots very much. But this combination of textures offered a whole other dimension to carrots apart from that raw sweetness we are all so used to. I was intrigued.

Then, a little reprieve from the veggies with this soft, tender Octopus with Leaf.

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The octopus was cooked perfectly and finished with a savoury herb dressing that wasn’t overwhelming. Together with a fresh leaf, it went down easy and again, the vegetable almost stole the show.

And as if we weren’t surprised enough by how versatile vegetable dishes could be, we were thrown yet again by this deceptively simple looking Daikon Radish.

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This had such a full-bodied umami bonito flavour, it was hard to believe it was plain, bland radish. And topped with some seasoned kelp, the flavours lingered long after we’d washed it down with cocktails. Delicious.

Next up, a fascinating tour of one of my all-time favourite veggies — Broccoli All Parts.

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I loved how it was deconstructed like this on a simple sliced wood platter. From simply dried, to sauteed, to boiled, to mash, it was unbelievable how diverse methods could bring out so many different dimensions of broccoli! My mind was blown.

But it was now time for something a little different — Soft Egg with Fava Beans and Radish.

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I’ve always thought runny egg dishes were a great way for a chef to showcase his/her creativity. And while this wasn’t groundbreaking, the flavours and textures were very well-balanced.

And speaking of interesting textures, here’s the Squash with Pickled Vegetable and Cauliflower Cream.

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Again, terrific balance of creamy cauliflower with tart pickle. And if you look closely, there’s that delightful seasoned kelp again. You almost forget most of it is made of vegetables when it’s just so damn satisfying.

But, a girl’s got to eat more than her veggies. And here we have the first seafood main of the night — Monkfish, Hearts of Palm, Leek.

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Hearts of palm is really an ingredient unique to Brazil and its surrounding region and I was delighted to see if featured in a whole different way. The monkfish was fresh, tender and having it lightly topped with leek foam was fragrant, light and easy on the palate.

Time for something a little heavier, our meat dish — Pork with Beets, Mustard Greens.

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Again, as much as I appreciated the fork tender meat, the beetroots in various forms really stole the show for me. Sliced and pickled, beetroot mash, and even the beautifully sauteed mustard greens. It was a savoury, sweet and spicy party in my mouth.

By then, I was really looking forward to the desserts. With such an inventive meal, I imagined the dessert would be something memorable too. And boy was I right.

This is the Chocolate Banana and Fennel.

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The chocolate banana combination isn’t new, but the bananas caramelised to honeyed perfection was to-die-for. And that dark, bitter chocolate mousse topped with fennel sorbet? Wow. Just a surprisingly beautiful combination. Who would’ve placed a herb like fennel in dessert? I loved it.

And finally, ending off with something light and sweet — Strawberry Mascarpone.

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The crunch on the biscuit topping went perfectly as it crumbled into a gorgeous mouthful of light, sweet cheese and tart strawberries. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the meal.

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Hands down one of the most imaginative meals when it comes to vegetable dishes. I highly recommend this if you’re vegetarian or appreciate delicate, fresh flavours. I assure you, there will be enough to leave you stuffed and happy as you walk back out into the crisp cool evening.

Lasai Restaurante
Address: Rua Conde de Irajá, 191 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22271-020, Brazil
Reservations: meitre.com
Phone: +55 21 3449-1854

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