Cyma, the flagship venture of the prolific Chef Robby Goco, is perhaps the only one of the few authentic Greek restaurants in the country. The first to appear was in Boracay in the early 90s, a fitting dining place in an island frequented by tourists. Next came a branch at the Shangri-La Mall in 2006, a more daring venture considering that Filipino diners at that time were largely unfamiliar with Hellenic dishes. Eight years and a handful of other branches later, Cyma’s interiors and menu have undergone some transformation to reflect the evolution of Greek cuisine.
The branch in Trinoma, however, which opened in 2007, has so far retained the same interiors. That is, it has something of the look of the Greek islands, with a whitewashed plank ceiling, stone walls, Aegean blue chairs, along with Mediterranean-style plates on the wall. The large glass windows allow sunlight to shine through the dining area. It makes for a breezy chic experience.
Once inside, diners are spoilt for choice with the long menu. In all honesty, it’s hard to go wrong here, but you can take a hint from the recent menu makeover and head for what Goco describes as “progressive” dishes. But personally, we’re not too keen on leaving our comfort zones so on a couple of times JM and I dine here, we go with old favorites.
We make sure to start with the Saganaki, a small plate of cheese served with slices of bread on the side. There are two versions – the original, which uses Parmesan and mozzarella; and the Cypriot, which uses halloumi. A chef lights the cheese on fire just before serving, triggering a chorus of “Opa!” from the staff.
From the salad side of the menu, we order the classic Horiatiki Salata, composed of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and Kalamata olives crowned with a slab of feta and a slice of bread. For a solo serving, the portion is large enough to share and can even be a main course.
The gyros are among the bestsellers. The mixed meat version has beef and pork straitjacketed in a pita, hidden in a stuffing of greens. Spices and garnishes are minimal and effective – tomato, red onion, a dollop of tzatziki. A handful of French fries is served, too, adding salt and crunch.
The chicken souvlaki is equally great as well. The chicken is flavorful, the pita is perfect and the vegetables are fresh, with a whiff of char. Shell out an extra PHP 180, you can have any vegetable side of your choice with it. You have to wonder why, though, since you can have the same sides for the same price even if you order it separately.
The briam is a wonderful mix of fresh produce reminiscent of ratatouille, but the crumbled feta adds a nice touch of saltiness.
My favorite, though, is the moussaka. Cyma’s take on Greece’s national dish has all the creamy, meaty, eggplant-happy flavors I am always looking for when in need of comfort food.
We order the moussaka with yemista – pepper stuffed with rice and pine nuts. It does not disappoint. It’s classified as a side dish, but it’s packed with flavor, it can pass off as a cheaper main entry.
As always, Cyma is a dependable spot with wonderful Greek food. The prices may be a bit on the high side, but going here is always well worth the occasional splurge.
Cyma (Trinoma Branch)
4F Trinoma Mall
North Avenue, Quezon City
6F Shangri-la Mall