Monday, August 28, 2006


The world is shrinking. Migration flows have brought cultures together in a way unforeseen a few centuries back. What would the great colonizers of yore think if they could see the way things are now? Would they have been able to imagine the blending we encounter on a daily basis? Would the cities of today seem like Babel of biblical times? Or more like Sodom and Gomorrah?

One great change is having access in this semi-backwater of Asia to a variety of cuisine. All of our overseas contract workers not only go forth to save our economy on a daily basis, but they marry, have kids, bring their spouses and mixed breed offspring back, not to mention lots and lots of balikbayan boxes. While we haven't seen too many interesting Nigerian or Ethiopian restaurants open up (and we still haven't set up a really amazing Moroccan or Afghan restaurant), there are more italian restaurants and greek restaurants, most of them byproducts of the OFW economic development.

In other better, greater blogs, there have been reviews of other greek restaurants like Mati and Minos (or is it Mynos?). I've had good meals at both, usually eating lamb, yogurt, and seeking dolmades that don't taste like they've been pickled in brine. A couple of months ago I saw a sign that heralded a new mall based Greek restaurant, Cyma in the Shangri-la Plaza. Till today I haven't had a chance to try it. As I was eating solo, I had a limited taste of the menu and will reserve my opinion till I can go with other diners as more mouths means more dishes to try out.

One gimmick that Cyma has going for it, (and what Manila based restaurant doesn't need a gimmick?) is flambed cheese. In greek cuisine, this may be a sheep cheese or feta, doused in some ouzo, allowed to burn blue and bright and then sprinkled with lemon and parsley. Cyma has the pyrokinetics and the waiters are required to say Oopa! when they light the dish up. The two occasions I heard them go through this made me wonder if they knew what they were getting themselves into. For it was noticeable to me at least, that the waiters sounded either frightened for their lives (maybe they've singed more than a few eyebrows by now) or they were worried someone was going to ask them what Oopa meant. And they wouldn't be able to say anything. Is this going to be a trend? Will Gumbo's shouting waiters and Cyma's charred ones be the new wave in customer service?


Katrina said...

So which Cyma dishes did you like/not like? I ate there recently with some officemates, so got to try several things. Most were just okay, they tended to be on the bland side. The lamb (supposedly a bestseller) was tough. I did like the pasta with prawns, which was a fantastic value at less than P300 for 5 good-sized prawns, and the dessert with phyllo and cream. I enjoyed the place enough to go again to try more dishes. I'm just glad they've opened in Manila; it means one less resto on my list when I go to Boracay. ;-)

wysgal said...

I'm not sure why, but the thought of waiters shouting OOPA (no idea what it means) while serving you Greek food sounds strangely appealing.

Mila Tan said...

Oopa, upa, umpa, oompa, are used in Turkish and Greek cultures to denote encouragement or approval. May also be used to say stop. Sort of like Ole in spanish.

I tried the "fresh anchovies" which were disappointing. I expressly asked the waiter if they were canned and he said no, but they had such a strong metallic flavor. Disappointing. The hummous was ok. And the spinach rice wasn't very spinachy.

christine said...

Mila, your last post has me thinking about the oompa loompas on Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and now the song is stuck in my head! Been wanting to try Cyma, I love Greek food(all mediterranean food actually) so any new Greek restaurant is a must try for me. How sad that some dishes were bland. I hope that was just a bad day for them.

ChichaJo said...

My mom and I almost jumped out of our seats when they yelled! They are loud.

My kingdom for good dolmas.

I was in Greece with Christine and they made me shout out something because of what I ordered. I forget what it was. Of course I did what I was told. There may be a future for me at Cyma.

Mila Tan said...

Nena, sorry i gave you a song syndrome. And the oompa loompa song pa! I owe you a coffee bread bun for Saturday then.

Joey, yeah, one group in the table in front of me told the waiter "you should tell us you're going to shout, we're old you know" lol.

christine said...

Hehe, no need to buy me a kopi bun. I get "ear worms" all the time, and they're usually annoying songs, not even pleasant ones. Why does that happen? Sometims even tv jingles.

Jo, I remember that! Shoot, I just don't remember what it was exactly they asked you to shout or what you ordered. You know me and my horrible memory.

ChichaJo said...

It was the name of the dish but I forgot the name....aargh!

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