Cyma (Upper Ground Level, Robinsons Magnolia)

PhotoGrid_1390292805640Date visited: September 2013 (UPDATE: We came back to this restaurant and I edited the review because unfortunately, our latest experience was not good this time around. Hopefully, this is applicable to this branch only. On our latest visit, we only ordered the Gyro and Paidakia)

 

What we ordered:

Pastitsio (Baked Macaroni), Mixed Meat Gyro, Paidakia (Char-grilled Lamb Ribs) and Baklava

 

Taste = 5/5

–          A lot of people would probably say that this is the best Greek restaurant in Manila. In terms of the taste and quality of their food, they have a very strong case. The baked macaroni tasted great! The sauce was perfect for the Filipino taste. It was on the sweet side and it was very meaty and creamy. The Meat Gyro was equally well prepared. The meat was a combination of generous pieces of delicious beef and pork and veggies wrapped in very soft but thick pita bread. Lyn said what made it special were the honey-mustard sauce and the red spicy sauce, which made the gyro exceptionally delectable. The Lamb ribs were lip-smackingly scrumptious. The menu said it was their most popular and rightfully so. Just looking at it made me think that it would have been improper to eat it with utensils so I proceeded to give proper homage and I ate them with my hands. The lamb meat had just the right amount of gaminess and the salt on the crust of the lamb was just perfect – no need for sauces. The Baklava was the only average-tasting dish that we ate but the gyro and lamb were just too good that they compensated for the too flaky and leathery dessert.

 

Service = 2.5/5

–          When we visited the restaurant the first time, the servers were mostly welcoming but one of them was probably on their bad day. On our subsequent visit, I came close to walking out of the restaurant because of the very poor service. Just trying to order involved too much effort on our part and I felt our waiter had a condescending tone.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The restaurant looked very vibrant and it felt like a place where you’d want to eat for an extended time if not for the poor service. Everything looked nice and bright.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          Even though they served really good food, I think the prices were a little too steep. Also, based on our latest experience in this branch, we would probably not go back to this branch.

Click here for their website.

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Ramon Lee’s Panciteria (540 Ronquillo St., Sta. Cruz, Manila)

Date visited: August 2013

What we ordered:

Lumpiang Shanghai, Canton Special, Fried Chicken and Fried Rice

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          When we came to this restaurant, we thought that the specialty was only pancit. However, there were more images of their fried chicken than pancit so we thought we should give it a try. Good thing we did. The chicken itself was a bit bland but when we combined it with the brown sauce, the taste was very good. I think the chicken had a little flavouring to it and the sauce just made the flavours burst out. Very tender and juicy chicken combined with an old school sweet and sour brown sauce, perfect! When they served the pancit, it was on the saucy side and tasted salty. Since we couldn’t finish any of the dishes because the servings were large, we had leftovers. When I tasted the pancit the next day, it was the best pancit I’ve tasted. It became dry but very flavourful and the saltiness was gone. I don’t know what happened but it was just the way I like my pancit. It was even perfect with rice. The Lumpia tasted old school as well which was a refreshing change from the more floury variants we taste today. Lyn liked the fried rice very much because it was as old school as you can get. Bits of almost burnt rice, pale look, minimal ingredients but the taste reminded us of home cooking.

 

Service = 5/5

–          When we visited the restaurant, it was around 30 min to closing time and we were the only ones there so all their attention was on us. Nevertheless, I think their service was really fast as we got all of our orders in about 5 to 10 min after ordering.

 

Ambience = 3.5/5

–          The restaurant has been around a long time (4th oldest restaurant in Manila est 1929) and it showed on everything. Good thing everything was clean, even the restroom.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          Their prices weren’t really the most affordable ones but I really liked their pancit, the leftover taste (next day taste) that is. Overall, the taste of the food and speed of service were easily above other similar restaurants that actually charge more.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Mesa Filipino Moderne (3/F Robinsons Magnolia)

Date visited: August 2013

What we ate:

Tofu Salad, Hito Flakes on Spoon, Laing 2 ways, Tinapa Roll Wrapped in Lettuce, Chicken Binakol, Baby Squid in Olive Oil, Pinatayong Manok, Crispy Boneless Pata, Crispy Leche Flan and Leche Flan

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          This is definitely one of the best modern Filipino restaurants in Manila serving good Filipino food with twists and turns. The tofu salad was more like soft small tofu cakes with shrimp on top swimming in a lightly salty dressing. They were very good appetizers and had a clean taste. The Hito (catfish) Flakes tasted good but I couldn’t really tell if they were catfish or pork floss. It was combined with mangoes, onions and chilli, which gave the dish a little zing to it. For me, the best dish was the Laing (Taro leaves with pork, coconut cream and shrimp paste). They served it two ways: original and crispy. It was sweet, salty, a little spicy, savoury and the crispy version had a very nice contrast in texture to the soft taro leaves. It was really executed very well. It made me hungrier actually. The Tinapa (smoked fish) Roll had too much of the smoked fish flavour in my opinion but those who like smoked fish will love this dish. The Chicken Binakol is chicken soup with coconut and papaya. It was good but I just couldn’t taste enough of the coconut in the soup. The Baby Squids were great. Lyn really liked the way they were cooked in olive oil and garlic. The squid meat had the perfect texture to them – not mushy and not tough. The Pinatayong Manok (Standing Chicken) was initially served as if it was standing on a plate then the servers carved it on the table. The meat was very tender and juicy but the taste was not out of the ordinary. The Crispy Boneless Pata (pork leg) tasted good with the crispy skin and very tender pork meat but I was looking for the feeling of getting pork skin and fat stuck behind my teeth because to me, that is the sign of good Crispy Pata. The Leche Flan (Creme caramel or milk flan) tasted very creamy and sweet. The Crispy Leche Flan is Leche Flan wrapped with lumpia wrappers (egg wrappers) then fried and served with more caramel. Yummy!

 

Service = 3/5

–          We were dining in one of their function rooms and they were barely half full but we received mediocre service only. They had ample staff but it seemed that they were very distracted and it showed. It was hard for us to call their attention and when they came with our requests, they only partially fulfilled them.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The dining area was a bit small but the theme was contemporary Filipino. Their seats were comfortable and it was clean everywhere.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The prices for their food items were on the expensive side. I think they have to improve on the taste of their food a little bit but their service sorely needs to pick up.

Click here for their Facebook page (different branch).

Greeka Kouzina (285 Units 4 & 5 P. Guevarra St. , San Juan)

PhotoGrid_1388589170165

Date visited: August 2013 (UPDATE: We came back to this restaurant just in time before this was posted. However, they ran out of arugula that day so the pasta in the photo didn’t have any)

What we ordered:

Beef Gyros, Arni Lemonato (Roast Lamb) with Roka Garides Pasta (Shrimp Pasta with Roka) and Baklava

 

Taste = 5/5

–          Finally, we had the pleasure of eating at this restaurant that we pass by almost twice a week. Indeed, a pleasure it was. It was as if fate wanted us to eat that night: an available parking near the door, first on the wait list and just a 10 minute wait for our table to be ready. If you ask around, this was almost unheard of during weekends at dinner time. The Beef Gyros was the best that Lyn had. The meat was done medium well, very tender and the serving was generous. The best part was the sauce – it wasn’t garlicky at all and was distinctly different from shawarma sauce. It tasted like sour cream but much better and really complimented the Gyros very well. We also tried their specialty which the menu stated as “Greeka’s bestseller! 5 hour roast lamb that falls off the bone.” Well, they weren’t kidding. I barely needed a fork to take the meat off the bone. The best part was the taste. The meat tasted very clean with almost no gamey or lamb-y flavour to it. The gamey taste was on the semi-crispy fatty crust on the surface of the meat. When combined with both the white and brown sauces that came with it, wow, just wow. It was so good that when (not if) we come back here, I don’t know if I would order anything other than this dish. The dish also came with a choice of sides from about 14 options. I thought it was going to be a tiny serving but it was almost like a regular serving size. We chose the shrimp pasta and the combination of flavours was very good. The taste was like shrimps bathing in rich tomato paste with the nutty flavour of arugula. Yummy. The Baklava was delicious. The flaky pastry layers had chewy chopped pistachio, walnuts and cashews in between and we decided to top it off with ice cream instead of yogurt. We would probably try the yogurt next time because the baklava was very sweet already.

 

Service = 4/5

–          They were full when we came there but there were enough servers to service all of the customers. The food came relatively fast as well. The problem was, it was quite hard to call the servers’ attention even if they were just standing around, at times.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The restaurant looked like a place that served good food just by looking in the dining area. We couldn’t explain it but it just felt very comfortable even if there were a lot of people around and quite hard to move around.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The serving sizes were above average and the quality and taste of their food was at a different level. Still, I think some of the items were priced a bit too much. But this is definitely a place worth coming back to.

Click here for their Facebook page.