Named MEE, the phonetic spelling of a female name meaning ‘beauty’ in Korean, the 92-seat restaurant is located by the iconic hotel’s swimming pool and joins Copacabana Palace’s two other acclaimed dining options, Hotel Cipriani Restaurant which serves Italian cuisine and international eatery Pérgula. .
Following a six-month remodel, the 190sqm space features contemporary Asian-inspired décor with Chinese teahouse-style booths and eastern portraits by Bangkok-based artist Christian Develter. Walls are painted in Chinese sang-de-boeuf porcelain red and wooden dividers in the style of Asian screens create an intimate feel. The oriental ambience is complemented by Shanghai lounge music selected by Ken Hom and a signature room aroma with hints of lily and ginger.
MEE’s exotic menu will take diners on a gastronomic journey through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, China and Japan. The restaurant’s chefs learned Asian culinary techniques in Bangkok prior to the opening and will prepare an innovative menu of specialities including ‘spicy Thai salad’ and ‘Vietnamese salt and pepper crab’ in the restaurant’s wok area, separated from the dining room by a glass panel.
A dedicated sushi bar will serve a range of sushi and ‘SashiMEE’ – 10 of the chef’s special fish dishes including eel, scallops and Kobe beef – with a special soy sauce, and guests can sit at a long bar and watch as sushi is prepared for an interactive dining experience.
To accompany the inventive cuisine, a sake stewardess will be on hand to pair each dish with over 25 varieties imported from Japan. Sake tastings will also be available. An extensive drinks menu includes 18 cocktail creations, three of which are designed to convey the spirit of MEE – mango, vodka and spices; fig with chamomile and gin; and duck-infused Bloody Mary. Guests will also be invited to select their favourite flavour of tea, which is made to their personal taste and served at the end of the meal.
Based both in France and Thailand, celebrated BBC TV chef Ken Hom has starred in a number of prime-time series and written over 30 cookery books. He commented: “I am delighted to be bringing authentic pan-Asian cuisine to Rio de Janeiro. MEE’s innovative menu will use the freshest, finest ingredients to give guests a true taste of eastern gastronomy”.
The restaurant’s Executive Chef, Rafael Hidaka, is of Japanese descent and has previously worked at acclaimed Sao Paolo restaurants Kinoshita and Osaka.
The opening of Copacabana Palace’s new restaurant follows the completion of a meticulous $20 million refurbishment at the end of 2012. The hotel’s General Manager, Andrea Natal, said: “MEE is the latest in a series of investments that have further strengthened Copacabana Palace’s status as one of South America’s finest hotels. With a creative menu and exclusive service, the restaurant is sure to become a favourite dining spot for both guests and locals.”
MEE be will open for lunch from 12:00 – 17:00, Friday to Sunday and dinner from 19:00 – 00:00, Sunday to Thursday and 19:00 – 01:00 on Friday and Saturday. Prices at Copacabana Palace start from £408 per night, including taxes, based on two sharing a Superior City View Room with breakfast.