Spellbound at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant

On an otherwise boring street in midtown Cebu City, the colorful flowery detail at a small nook catches my attention. A flower shop! That's what I thought. But a flower shop it is not. Gayuma ni Maria is a full service restaurant themed as a fun dating place with not just a subtle hint of naughty. As mystifying as its external appearance, the food itself at Gayuma ni Maria is mesmerizing.

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines

Along with some friends from the Cebu Blogging Community, Chef Kadee Aguila and the Maria Aguila hosted us one night at their restaurant in Cebu City to sample some of the items in their menu.

A photo posted by Kenneth Tan (@itkenhappen) on


The Story Behind Gayuma ni Maria

Naga City, Cebu native Maria Aguila has a passion for food and cooking. She would cook recipes and delicacies to gift to friends and family during Christmas and other special occasions. Later on, those she gave gifts to were asking where to get them. Eventually, what started as simple gifts to friends became a hit as orders would eventually number more than 200 in a day. That is when they realized that they will have to open a restaurant for those who fell into the love spell of Maria's cooking. That gave birth to Gayuma ni Maria in the year 2000 along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. Fast forward 15 years later, the chef at Gayuma ni Maria is Maria's own offspring, Chef Kadee Aguila.

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Me with Chef Kadee and Madam Maria at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines

The Menu at Gayuma ni Maria

The menu at Gayuma ni Maria tells a story from Attraction (appetizers), to Courtship (soups and salads), to Commitment (Main Dish), then onward to Seduction (beverages), and finishing off with Temptations (desserts).

Appetizers that Attract Good Vibes

Under the label attractions in the Gayuma ni Maria menu, the restaurant has an interesting selection of appetizers to prepare the palate for the sumptuous meal ahead. Their otherwise regular menu becomes interesting with the names they call their dishes such as May Hugot (potato fries), Kini-love (fish ceviche or kinilaw),  Hot Horny Bacon, Come Fly With Me (chicken wings), Shorizo Mingle (their take on the gambas), and Spread the Love (homemade breads) that come with Forces (a fusion of cheese, pesto, and tomato spread). During our visit, we were served Kini-love and Shorizo Mingle for appetizers.

Kini-love 

Kini-love is kinilaw na tangigue with salabat mixture and placed in carved tomato mini-bowls. It's not only pleasant to the eyes but a good starter to any meal as well.

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Kini-love, PhP 155

Shorizo Mingle

Shorizo Mingle is Gayuma ni Maria's take on the popular gambas. To make it a dish with a more Cebuano character, they added native Cebu chorizo to the dish. 

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Shorizo Mingle, PhP 195

Soups and Salads

Courtship in the Gayuma ni Maria menu refers to soup and salad items. Their soups (Warm the Heart roasted squash soup and I'm Wild For You mushroom soup) and salads (Green-Minded) also have interesting names: Kalive-in (House Salad), Wedge All My Heart (lettuce wedge with bacon, crab, or salmon), Peek-a-boo (soup), and All For You (soup). 


Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Wedge All My Heart, PhP 205

Main Dish

The main course items at Gayuma ni Maria are labeled under Commitment. We had Oh! Baby, No Boyfriend Since Birth, and Through The Fire for our main meal.

Through The Fire 

Pork barbecue is just popular among us Filipinos. When Gayuma ni Maria took this out from their menu for a while, people were looking for it, they have to put it back in the menu. Through the Fire is skewered pork literally grilled through the fire. This dish comes with rice.

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Through The Fire, PhP 215

Oh! Baby 

Oh! Baby is pan-seared beef tenderloin served with mashed potatoes and the Gayuma ni Maria salsa verde sauce.

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Oh! Baby, PhP 285

No Boyfriend Since Birth

No Boyfriend Since Birth or simply NBSB is a pesto pasta dish that comes with a generous serving of mussels and focaccia bread. This is a healthy dish that is also good for pectovegetarians.

NBSB pasta at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
No Boyfriend Since Birth, PhP 210

Other Main Courses

Aside from the ones we tried during our visit, there is also Secret Lovers (sautéed beef sirloin cubes with carrots, bell peppers, bananas, and potatoes), Rock Me Baby (oven roasted pork), Blushing Chicken (chicken breast fillet), Please Be Careful With My Heart (baked chicken), Mermaid's Call (assorted seafood), Love You To the Macs (macaroni and cheese balls), and Mi Amore Some Balls (spaghetti Bolognese).

Sweet Temptations

Desserts have a special place in the hearts of Chef Kadee and Madam Maria. It was the desserts at Gayuma ni Maria that somehow started it all. Aptly categorized under the Temptations heading in the menu, the desserts at Gayuma ni Maria are truly irresistibly tempting and sinful.

Twisted Pavlova 

The Twisted Pavlova is a merengue-based Canonigo cake named after the famous ballerina. It comes with custard sauce.  Chef Kadee mentions that this was the cake that his mom used to gift aplenty to friends and family before Gayuma ni Maria came to be.

twisted Pavlova cake at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Twisted Pavlova at Gayuma ni Maria, PhP 115 per slice/ PhP 799 whole cake

True Love

This crinkle cake used to be known as Broken Promises but guests suggested to change the name. When Gayuma ni Maria was featured in KrisTV, Kris Aquino suggested to change the name to True Love. Probably because she felt truly in love with the cake when she tasted it.

crinkle cake at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
True love crinkle cake, PhP 110 per slice/ PhP 799 whole cake

Beat Sex Anyday

Beat Sex Anyday also used to be known by a different name, Better than Sex. After some tweaking of the ingredients, they renamed it to Beat Sex Anyday. Whether it really beats sex, better than sex, or better with sex, let's leave that up to you when you get a taste of this moist chocolate cake folded in with caramel and mixed with house-blended cream cheese.

beat sex cake at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Beat Sex Anyday, PhP 105 per slice/ PhP 699 whole cake


Other Desserts

Aside from these resident specialties they also have their own rendition of the red velvet cake as well as Cebu's torta. Daily specials may also vary and there are also seasonal offerings such as cakes that only come out during Christmas season.


Beverages

When I visited Gayuma ni Maria with my blogger friends from Cebu Blogging Community, we were treated with the house-mixed cocktails as welcome drinks. We had Mango Margarita and Baha sa Pag-ibig, a mojito drink. Gayuma ni Maria also serves coffee, fruit shakes, tea, soda, bottled water, and hot chocolate. Beverages are labeled Seduction in the Gayuma ni Maria menu.

cocktails at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Cocktails at Gayuma ni Maria, PhP 99 per glass/ PhP 389 for pitcher

The Interior Design at Gayuma ni Maria

The interior design at Gayuma ni Maria is interesting. The interior is designed to create an aura of intimacy but subtle enough to make one comfortable. The lights are dimmed a bit to create that romantic aura. They have couches for those who want to dine comfortably and they also have hardwood furniture for the other tables and chairs. 

dining area at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
The dining area at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines

On one corner near the cashier, the wall is decorated with a heart using puso (hanging rice) shells. The walls in the restaurant are adorned with instructions for love spells.

photo corner at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Photo corner at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines

There are two (2) columns designated as "wishing pillars" where guests can tie their wishes and hope it will come true.

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
The wishing pillar at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Some artworks by local artists are also displayed on the walls as it is also the advocacy of the owners to support the local artists.

local art at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Works by local artists at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines

In the middle, a rendition of a balete tree adorned with dreamcatchers takes the space.

dreamcatchers at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Dreamcatchers on a balete tree at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
An old piano waits for someone to play some enchanting music in the space leading to the restrooms and kitchen.
piano at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Old piano waiting for someone to play enchanting music at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
The kitchen's see through glass is also decorated beautifully. It seems like every place at Gayuma ni Maria is worthy of a photograph.

kitchen at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Kitchen at Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
For those who want a dimmer place to dine in, they may opt to go to the second floor balcony where they can have a candlelight dinner. The space may also be reserved for parties and other functions.

Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines
Balcony of Gayuma ni Maria Restaurant in Cebu City, Philippines

Location and Contact Information of Gayuma ni Maria

The Cebu branch of Gayuma ni Maria is located at 29 J. Llorente Street, barangay Capitol Site, Cebu City, Philippines. The restaurant is right across the Hi Precision Diagnostic Laboratories and is a three minute walk from Robinson's Fuente. One may visit Gayuma ni Maria's Facebook page or follow them on Instagram (@gayumanimariaph).

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