“Akrotiri” means peninsula in Greek, so the roots of the cuisine served here is decidedly Mediterranean even if they have a bit of everything, from more classic European fare to Asian, particularly Filipino dishes. “It seemed to fit the label,” says David Jones, general manager of Akrotiri. “The name also came from coastal themes because…coastal food, the image—three parts water, one part land—so that name rides into the menu, as well.”
Akrotiri is also described as Modern Eurasian Cuisine, a label which is intriguing because you tend to think Central Asia, but what it is, is just that, a mélange of European and Asian dishes interpreted by Executive Chef and consultant Chef Luca Maffei, who is Italian and head chef; Ereyca Trinidad, who is Filipina, and the owners who are also Filipino and European.
Jones shares that his initial idea was of a strictly European type of restaurant, but it evolved into something recalling the culture of the people behind the food. Shell Fish Sauté with Clams, Mussels, Prawns, Squid and Tomato starts off with familiar Mediterranean flavors, while the Eurasian Sour Soup with Souvlaki Skewers is already veering toward Asia. By the time we get to the Grilled Prawns in Tamarind Dressing and Greens, we are in firmly Asian territory. The Wagyu Skirt Steak with Spicy Chili Jam is very tender and spicy chili provided a mild kick, but it’s not too spicy. They highlighted the natural flavors of the seafood by simply grilling it, and kicking it up a notch. The Grilled Squid is stuffed with feta foam and paired with squid ink risotto. The Grilled Salmon Fillet comes with a Tzatziki Wasabi dressing. The 24-hour Pork Belly with apple-ginger, wood sorrel leaves, and kimchi is extra tender and flavorful. The kimchi also cuts into the richness of the pork. The Seafood Tagliatelle has a generous serving of clams, mussels, prawns, squid, and tomatoes. Dessert is Chocolate Garden Mosaiko, which is delicious “dirt”, freeze-dried chocolate ganache, with surprise “berries” inside. It adorably recalls, to our minds at least, when a pig forages for truffles in the dirt.
For Jones, some of his other recommendations include the Beef Shank Dumplings, “When they’re preparing the sauce of the dumplings it takes ages, and the smell of the kitchen is just incredible.” But he waxes poetic about his favorite dish on the Akrotiri menu, the Tiradito Maya Maya. A tiradito is essentially the Peruvian equivalent of a crudo or a ceviche, raw fish in citrus sauce with chili. “We’ve been working very hard on the menu. We’ve been going to suppliers. I’ve been in a car for about 18 hours, and I walked into the kitchen, and Chef have put together this dish and said, ‘Dave, try this,’ and I scooped up some raw fish with some oil and citrus and some ginger, and I put it in my mouth and I started to cry and I kissed the chef, and I had to sit down for about half an hour, and that was the Tiradito Maya Maya, which, quite frankly, is one of the best things that we’ve made. I love it! I still haven’t brought myself to have Maya Maya anywhere else apart from here.” Now if that doesn’t convince you.
Jones, who is also a mixologist, assures that the bar and the drinks on hand are chosen in the same spirit as the menu. “We have a very nice range of Irish whiskeys to go along with the Coastal theme. All our whiskeys are either Irish or from an island or from Scottish distilleries from islands in Scotland, and then we have a Japanese whiskey, as well.” We all know whiskey is the it spirit these days, and everyone is getting in on it, collecting prized names mostly from Scotland, Ireland, the US and Japan, and talking about it in the kind of language that used to be normally reserved for wine.
“We also have a selection of gin and we also have a number of rums as well, all with a Coastal feel,” says Jones. “We also have a lot of wine. We do very well on the Coastal theme here, as well.”
Adhering to the current locavore ethos, you may be surprised that such a foreign sounding restaurant sources most of their products locally. “The Greek yogurt is actually made in Antipolo, Rizal, and we found it to be amazing quality,” says Jones. It used to be that restaurants would be assuring us of their bona fides by saying their ingredients are sourced abroad, and it reflects the current global food landscape that embraces the local produce and making with it whatever you want.
Akrotiri Modern Eurasian Cuisine opens at 11 a.m. daily. It is located at Unit 103 G/F Commerce Center Alabang, Commerce Avenue corner Filinvest Avenue, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa. Check out www.akrotiri.ph for more information.
In Photo: a. Chocolate Garden Mosaiko b. David Jones, general manager c. Chef Luca Maffei, executive chef-consultant d. Chef Ereyca Trinidad, head chef e. Beef Shank Dumpling in red turmeric sauce f. Gin and Tonic made with Portobello Road Gin and Summer Fruits g. Shell Fish Sauté with clams, mussels, prawns, squid, tomato and lobster h. 24-hour Pork Belly with apple-ginger, wood sorrel leaves, and kimchi i. Tiradito Maya Maya with spicy lemon dressing, ginger, radish and wasabi j. Grilled squid stuffed with feta foam & black ink risotto k. Wagyu Skirt Steak with spicy chili jam, roasted vegetable, paprika aioli