plant-based food

Cyma, Souv! now serve ‘meatless lamb’ dishes with plant-based brand Amala

Steph Arnaldo

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Cyma, Souv! now serve ‘meatless lamb’ dishes with plant-based brand Amala
Looking for more plant-based options from mainstream restos? 'Lamb' na dis!

MANILA, Philippines – The plant-based movement in the Philippines has been gaining traction in recent years, with a boom in “meat-free” alternatives from big companies and local businesses. Even mainstream restaurants have been joining in on the fun, integrating vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes into their menu and making the plant-based diet more accessible to the public.

In June, local Greek restaurant Cyma and Souv! By Cyma both launched new Mediterranean “meatless lamb dishes” in collaboration with Amala, a local, up-and-coming plant-based meat brand!

According to Amala’s founders, the idea came from a pulled pork sandwich – except it wasn’t pork. “It was jackfruit, and it was mind-blowing. The flavor. The texture. The meatiness. It didn’t make us miss the pork at all. It was even something we’d choose over the meat version in a snap,” Amala told Rappler.

Amala’s meat-free mission

Amala’s plan is just like many meat-free brands’ – to start a line of plant-based food products that can become “crave-able alternatives to meat dishes” and that people turn to by default, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to lessen your meat intake.

“We spent two years plotting, testing, and scrapping potential products, with our focus on one thing: taste,” Amala said. Aside from meatless lamb, Amala also offers Toscano Salami, Spanish Chorizo, Smoky Soppressata, Chorizo/Burger/Chicken/Fish Patties, Chorizo/Pork Mince, Italian Sausage Mince, Breakfast Sausage Patties, Chicken Nuggets, Hotdogs, Chicken Shreds, and more. I’ve personally tried the chicken nuggets and burger patties, and they passed my plant-based test!

“We make everything to order in-house at our commissary. Using simple manufacturing tech (plus a lot of hands-on work), we craft each product with high-quality ingredients and plant protein,” Amala said. Amala’s products are only currently available for B2B purposes (restaurants, retailers) so far. However, its sub-brand Akala will be available to customers soon; it focuses more on Pinoy plant-based meat like Akala Ko “Beef Tapa” and Akala Ko “Pork Tocino.”

Working with the big guns

Cyma and Souv! uses Amala Meatless Lamb, which is is made of pea protein and their “not-so-secret ingredient to meat-like texture,” Amala said. The “meat” is made of soy, spices, vegetable starch, and herbs. “It’s made by mixing these ingredients, then forming a block that mimics souvlaki. That way, the people over at Cyma could slice it as you would regular gyro meat,” Amala said.

Organic restaurant Green Pastures – which closed in May – also used Amala Meatless Burger Patties and Amala Meatless Pepperoni in the past. Chef Robby Goco, the man behind Green Pastures and Cyma, asked Amala Head of R&D and Chef Ron Lopez-Davis to specifically create a “plant-based alternative to souvlaki or gyro meat.” This resulted in Chef Ron’s re-imagination of Amala Meatless Beef Mince into a “loaf-like product that mimicked the desired flavors.”

“Chef Robby liked it so much that he introduced it as a vegetarian option in all Cyma and Souv! By Cyma branches in Metro Manila,” Amala said, ecstatic over the mutually-beneficial partnership.

“We love what Cyma stands for; how the brand forwards better eating. And we’re happy to collaborate with local brands. It’s like we’re lifting each other up in the local F&B community.”

‘Lamb’ na dis

We tried the new vegetarian menu at Souv! By Cyma’s The Podium branch, and was initially amazed and overwhelmed by the amount and variety of dishes, all using the same Meatless Lamb “kebab” but just with different ingredient pairings. Note that although it may look like lamb in photos, it’s still made of plants, so don’t expect that gamey taste and meaty texture you’d get from the real deal.

GREEK RICE WITH MEATLESS LAMB. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Greek Rice with Amala Meatless Lamb had rice, “lamb,” and grilled tomatoes, onions, and peppers with a yogurt sauce and spicy chili oil – a classic and filling plant-based rice meal option I would opt for. Thin slices of “lamb” were crisp on the outside and soft in the inside, but maybe a thicker portion would do to resemble souvlaki more, as well as a pinch of salt to add some umami oomph.

MIGHTY “STEAK” GYRO SUB WITH MEATLESS LAMB. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Mighty “Steak” Gyro Sub was a hefty dish and good to share – a fluffy pita is stuffed with a juicier version of the “lamb,” topped with a crispy deep-fried onion ring, cheese, and parsley, served with sauce and fries. Although the gyro was tasty, the heap of fresh parsley inside the gyro became too overpowering in flavor.

VEGAN RICE POWER BOWL. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The Vegan Power Bowl was a flavorful plant-based option, made with seasoned rice and fresh radish, greens, “lamb,” and pickled onions. A surprise side dish favorite was the Beet Soup with Yogurt and Dill – a light, smooth, and purple broth that tasted like chicken noodle soup with a hint of beet sweetness at the end.

BEET SOUP. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Souv’s vegetarian-friendly menu is extensive, and if you’re vegan, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on the resto’s main selection. You can order a ton of side dishes, enjoy Cyma’s signature salads still, Souv!’s appetizers, a few mains and wraps without breaking your meat-free diet; and with Amala’s Meatless Lamb, you’ll be able to add a serving of plant-based protein and more nutrition to your veggie mainstays.

SUPER SOUV! SALADS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Our recommendation would stick to just one to two meat-free dishes, because after the six dishes we tried, the Meatless Lamb began to look and taste the same, even with the different kinds of spicy and creamy dressings used for the salads and bowls.

The “lamb” itself has a pleasant consistency – soft and meaty, and crisp on the outer edges, but with the tendency to get a bit dry if cut too thinly. Even if it is subtle in its savory flavor, it doesn’t taste overly processed and salty like some store-bought, packaged meat-free alternatives tend to, which makes it a good partner to flavorful dishes, sauces, and sides. We also appreciated that there was no heavy “vegan meat after-taste” here!

More in store

Amala’s meatless products can also be tried out in California Pizza Kitchen, UNWND Poblacion, and Sound Coffee. Some products are also available in Real Food branches in Metro Manila. As of now, they are currently working on more restaurant collaborations, with a focus on chef-crafted creations.

“We also work with food scientists to maintain the wholesomeness of our plant-based food, along with its nutritional value. We use high-quality ingredients and minimal processing to keep things as pure as possible,” Amala said.

“Everything is designed for the Filipino palate, so we consider what Pinoys would like and what would be most accessible to them,” they added. “By collaborating with brands like Cyma, we hope to bring more plant-based options for locals to enjoy.” – Rappler.com

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.