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My big Greek dining experience in Manila, Philippines January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.

Lovers of Mediterranean food all agree that Greek cuisine is relatively simple, organic and extraordinarily healthy. No one knows this better than Filipino-Greek Geni Psinakis, who owns and manages Mati.

Located at the posh Power Plant Mall in Rockwell Center, Mati, defined as a blue glass amulet resembling an eye, serves authentic Greek dishes amidst a very cozy and homey ambiance. Its customers range from dating couples to families celebrating special occasions. Even Psinakis’ father is a regular customer of the restaurant.

“Mati is the only authentic Greek restaurant in town,” shares Psinakis, “First of all, the people behind the restaurant, from the concept, the recipes, the service training, are all Greeks.”

Psinakis assures that all the crucial ingredients, from the water, the wines and spirits, to their spices, tomato paste, cheeses and halva, are imported from Greece. The olive oil, Mati uses Sparta Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil, winner of the 2006 Superior Taste Award from Europe’s International Taste and Quality Institute, and olives, which are the trademark of Greek dishes, are also imported. Even the staff have been trained to pronounce the names of the dishes perfectly so that guests can feel they are basking in Greek hospitality and service. Head chef, Jeremiah Go, has also undergone extensive training from Greece on top of his studies in Switzerland and in the Culinary Institute of America in Sta. Helena, California.

Mati takes pride in its core concept of “feeding everyone.” It boasts of huge servings that are perfect for Filipinos who love to share and eat together. The tables and chairs, themselves are arranged in way that makes families feel that they have never left their homes.

Mati’s bestsellers are the mezedes (starters). The sampler plate consists of a selection of five popular dips such as tzatziki, yogurt cucumber and garlic dip; tirokafteri, spicy feta cheese dip; fava, pureed fava beans dip; taramosalata, cod roe dip; and the well-loved melitzanosalata, smoked eggplant dip. The spanakopita, is also a favorite. It consists of spinach and feta filo, which is a bit crispy on the outside and surprisingly moist and a little sweet on the inside.

Highly recommended is the Greek salata (salad) or horiatiki, which consists of refreshingly healthy and delicious tomatos, cucumbers, capers, parsley, oregano, Κalamata olives and feta cheese served with red wine vinaigrette. Psinakis also recommends the tangy salata me kyvous fetas, which consists of fried feta with arugula, mesclun and raspberry vinaigrette.

For the main dishes or kyria piata, there’s the famous moussaka, which is baked layers of eggplant with ground beef and bechamel sauce; and garides saganaki pasta, which is spaghetti with prawns, feta and tomato sauce. This dish is particularly good for seafood lovers. Another must-try is the popular chicken souvlaki, which is the Greek version of chicken barbecue and consists of grilled skewered chicken and vegetables.

Psinakis also suggests the halibut with mushroom risotto, pan-fried halibut with Portobello mushroom risotto and white truffle oil. Finish off your gastronomic experience with Mati’s all-too sinful desserts (glyka), which according to one member of the press, “puts back all the calories we’ve lost.” Try the Mati chocolate sin, which is warm, flourless, Valrhona chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream; the equally famous baklava, which is layers of filo and toasted almonds, pistachios and walnuts; and the latest addition to the menu, halva ice cream, which is crushed sesame seed with honey.

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