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Metrô integration Leme
Leme's restaurant scene used to be about as conservative and traditional as it gets, until, that was, the arrival of a sleek new Oriental-fusion restaurant to breathe new flavours onto the locals' long-deprived tastebuds. Like the food, much thought has been given to the design of Epifania, as befits a neighbourhood famous for its art-deco history. From the beautiful menus to the intricately painted bathroom and huge, wall-filling murals, there is a refreshing attention to detail that one could have forgiven the owners for overlooking given the elaborate, inventive (and affordable) menu.
The choice begins with delicate starters like the herby tomato chutney-filled soup spoon with a grilled scallop and shrimp perched on top, and robatas (skewers) of steak or chicken with exquisite sauces like Thai-chilli jelly. Clean the palette with a simple salmon tartar crispbread and basil infusion or a house caipisaque (fruit cocktail with sake rather than cacahaça) like the tangy mango with ginger, and choose from a wealth of mains including classic sushi/sashimi combinations, noodles and Teppanyaki.
Even the executive lunches come with a flourish, and whether the chosen side is a creamy risotto, batata de baroa or regular potato mashed with wasabi, the elegant presentation keeps dishes like encrusted tuna and filet mignon well ahead of the local pack. Brazil's love affair with the 'hot' sushi rolls also comes with a twist; the salmon in the 'Fila' and 'Shake' versions comes encrusted in genuine Panko breadcrumbs, while the 'Flake' has crispy rice balls in teriyaki sauce by way of a jacket, offering a deliciously light and unexpected texture.
On Saturdays, a rodizio buffet (R$75) is available featuring the vast majority of items on the menu, perfect for long, lazy lunching or those prone to food envy. In the second half of 2013, too, a third floor will open in the basement offering three private, screened-off rooms for up to ten people around floor-height tables.
For young chef Juliana Reis, still in her mid-20s but having already worked in the kitchen of Felipe Bronze's award-winning Oro, moving from a successful first restaurant in Flamengo serving home-made pastas to larger premises and a menu of creative Oriental food is apparently just part and parcel of being a contemporary chef.