Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Greeka Kouzina

If you’re looking for a new place to eat, a new Greek place just opened along P. Guevarra in San Juan. It’s a little out of the way, but that just makes it all the more charming for a dinner date or eating adventure. Take some time one evening, look this place up, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Photo Collage credit to Kim Chupeco

It’s called Greeka Kouzina, and it serves a good selection of in-theme salads, skewers, wraps, and entrees. Prices are reasonable off-hand, but you will realize how much value you get for your money once they serve the large plates and side dishes that come with your order.  

Because it’s new, I haven’t had a chance to taste everything on their menu. But  those that I have (by ordering them myself, or mooching off the order of friends), I have yet to find anything I didn’t like. And this is coming from someone who’s not a fan of lamb, which is a major ingredient of many Greek fare.

Here are my personal favorites: 

Fig Roka Salad - Sweet figs, walnuts and sundried tomatoes on a bed of arugula and mixed greens. Dressed with a traditional Greek Vinaigrette. Topped with slivers of fresh parmesan cheese.  

For a reasonable P360, this salad is good for sharing. I personally liked the coming together of tastes and textures from the sweet fig, sundried tomatoes, walnuts, and dressing. The parmesan cheese provided a subtle hint of sophistication, but the over-all character of the salad is freshness. 

Beef Souvlaki - Char grilled skewers of meat and vegetables on a skewer. Served with a side dish. 

P360 for a long skewer of very soft, very tasty beef. This dish blew me away the first time I tasted it—the seasoning was very rich without taking away the beef experience. The best parts were the fatty portions; it felt like the meat was literally melting in my mouth. The dish comes in a serving that will fill you even on a very hungry day. This is definitely something to come back to. 

Because the meat is tasty, I recommend the Watercress Pasta (see below) as a good side dish for the Souvlaki.

Chicken Gyro - grilled chicken wrapped in pita with a bed of mixed greens and arugula, and ripened tomatoes, topped with feta cheese. Served with a side dish.

Perfect for a heavy snack or light meal, the Chicken Gyro comes in more tempered, but nonetheless appetizing flavor. I am a fan of the charcoal-grilled taste, giving body to this Greek version of a sandwich. Because the taste is slightly less pervasive as the Souvlaki, I would suggest heavier sides like the Mousaka (grilled eggplant layered with beef tomato sauce and cheesy béchamel) or the Pastitsio (Mediterranean baked macaroni with ground beef and béchamel sauce) .

Watercress Pasta – Creamy pasta with fresh watercress and tomatoes

Good enough to be a meal on its own, the Watercress Pasta is also subtle enough to strike a good balance with the tastier dishes, like the Souvlaki or Lamb. The sauce reminds me of good pesto, but made even better and refreshing with the addition of fresh watercress leaves and tomatoes.

Apple Pie - Baked phyllo dough stuffed with apples and cinnamon, served with a generous portion of vanilla ice cream.

Greeka’s version of the Apple Pie is a tweek between the popular dessert, and the Mediterranean Baklava. The baked phyllo dough makes for a flaky, light topper to the fruit and cinnamon, with vanilla ice cream as kicker. It just made so much delicious sense that my first though when I had my first bite was, why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

Special Mention: Arni Lemonato (Roast Lamb) - Greeka's best seller!  5 hour roast lamb that falls of the bone.  

Like I mentioned, I’m not a fan of mutton. I do not like the spicy taste that lingers after each bite. And yet, when I dared a bite of the Roast Lamb, I found myself asking for another bite! The meat is cooked for 5 hours to make it very tender, and the flavors really get into it, too. The serving size is so big it looks ridiculous, but my friends who ordered the dish finished it before they realized, anyway.

In full disclosure, the owners and the chef of Greeka are our friends. Take my word for it though, I’d recommend this place to my own mother even if I had no idea who owned it. I hope you do take my word, or you’d be missing out on quite a dining experience.
Greeka Kouzina is located at 285 P. Guevarra St., San Juan. If you are familiar with the old Apple Service Center, that is exactly their spot now. For reservations (which I recommend), you can call 624-5974 or 0917-6292818.

You can also visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GreekaKouzina.

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