On the premises where Toast Bar and Bistro used to stand, Yiamas Greeka Taverna brings a taste of Greece to a neighborhood dominated by Western-style restaurants such as Carnegie’s, The Diner (樂子) and Whalen’s. Opened earlier this month, the establishment’s menu, which mixes Greek-style dishes with classic brunch items, sandwiches, pasta, pizza and Mexican food, feels a bit odd, but, as we were told on a recent visit, its kitchen is currently undergoing a transition to become more Greek-focused. If the food keeps the same quality, Yiamas’ upcoming, revised menu is definitely something to look forward to.
Ambience-wise, the dimly lit restaurant has an intimate, relaxing comfort of a bar, accentuated by a slick palette of wooden brown, dark gray and white. Fluent in Mandarin and English, the wait staff appear both relaxed and attentive. With little knowledge of Greek cuisine, my dining companion and I relied on our server to make recommendations, which turned out to be just as delicious as promised.
We began our meal with rota salata (NT$320), said to be a popular Greek salad made up of fresh arugula, romaine and iceberg lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes, homemade candied walnuts served with shaved parmesan and Greek vinaigrette dressing. The dressing might be too sweet to some, but for people who claim to have a separate stomach for desserts like myself, it was nectar, and the candied walnuts were divine, adding a sense of excitement to the already cheerful mixture of flavors and textures.
Then came the souvlaki. Served with homemade pita bread, yogurt garlic sauce and roasted potato, Yiamas’ rendition of souvlaki features chicken (NT$290), lamb (NT$350) and beef tenderloin (NT$350). The beef we tried was flavorful and went well with the caramelized bell peppers and onions, though the meat seemed to be cooked to the level of medium-well rather than medium that we ordered. The yogurt garlic sauce was good, but in my opinion, the well-flavored, grilled delight needs no other seasoning than the slices of lemon served on the side.
Address: 3, Ln 181 Anhe Rd Sec 2, Taipei City
Telephone: (02) 2737-0037
Open: Monday to Friday from 11:30am to 3pm and 5:30pm to 11pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 11pm
Average meal: NT$500 to NT$800
Details: Menu in Chinese and English; credit cards accepted
Another dish that’s highly recommended is the kotoupolo lemonato (NT$380), or Greek roasted chicken. Seasoned with lemon, oregano and garlic, the bird was roasted to a succulent, tender perfection with even the breast moist, while the fruity, sour fragrance of the lemon wonderfully complements the otherwise rich plate. The large serving — half a chicken — is best shared among a group.
Satisfied with what we had and having no room left for dessert, my dining companion and I look forward to returning soon to try the restaurant’s lauded gyros, which comes in one of four options — chicken (NT$180), lamb (NT$190) and beef or pork tenderloin (NT$230). The gyros is served with tomatoes, red onions, tzatziki sauce (yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic and salt), pita bread and roasted potatoes. The moussaka (NT$220) also looks tempting with layers of ground meat and roasted eggplant topped with bechamel sauce.
For dessert, diners can choose from Greek standards such as baklava (NT$190), made with layers of filo pastry filled with walnuts, cashew nuts and pistachio nuts and sweetened with lemon honey or yiaourti me meli (NT$190), which is composed of Greek drained yogurt, honey and candied walnuts. For tipplers, the restaurant carries a wide selection of cocktails, beer, wine, whiskey and other spirits.