With a mainly no-meat diet being imposed by Filipino Roman Catholics among themselves this past Holy Week, allow me to talk about seafood markets that have mushroomed in the city. When you’re craving for cooked seafood in these parts, you can think of three major sources: the Filipino restos where you can feast on local specialties like guinataang kuhol (snail), the Chinese restos which have offerings like crispy shrimps or crab with sotanghon (vermicelli), and the open-air markets where you can pick your seafood fresh and have it cooked in the adjoining restaurant of your choice.
I dined in two of these seafood markets recently and the experience hasn’t been disappointing. A bit on the pricey side, yes, but then again, seafood doesn’t really come cheap, unless you’re in a coastal town or something.
Dampa sa Libis was quite a revelation. I liked it because it was clean and didn’t suffocate me with the crowds. For someone like me who’s based in the center of Manila, its location in Libis, along C5, was definitely out of my way. It would pay to be here at least once a year, he he, and what’s good is that after eating here, you can take a short five minute drive to Eastwood City and have coffee there. The malls in Eastwood also close late, around midnight or so.
A friend was having her birthday in Dampa sa Libis and truth to tell, I already forgot the restaurant where she had her chosen fish and seafood cooked. On the menu was grilled squid, cheese-topped oysters, shrimps with chili garlic sauce, crab in oyster sauce, crispy fried garoupa fillet (lapu-lapu) and the calamares. All were good, but the last two dishes really rocked. I would endure the long drive, if only to taste those again
Closer to Manila, there’s the chain of eateries in Seaside Macapagal, which is a takeoff from the original Seaside Paluto in Baclaran. I actually dread going here because of the neck-to-neck parking. Still, the place wins points for proximity.
We tried the resto called Yatai Ramen upon the prodding of my son because his classmate’s family owns the place. We ordered pancit bihon (P300) and out came the biggest bowl of pansit I have ever seen. It was big enough to feed six or seven people! I had to request the server to give us half a serving only.
The prawns in their ebi tempura (P240) were plump and meaty as well, not like the scrawny ones in the Japanese fastfood restos where you wonder where the shrimp was amid all the breading.
The hot prawn salad had generous servings too but needed more flavor. Still, I think am treating at Yatai for my birthday, if only for the gigantic plate of pansit!
Manila’s seafood markets and restaurants (partial list)
Dampa sa Libis
107 E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave.
Libis, Quezon City
Telephone. No. 637-3301
along Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard
Tel. No. 556-1778 to 79
along Baclaran, Near Redemptorist Church
Dampa Paranaque Fresh Food Market & Ihaw-Ihaw
Sucat, Paranaque City
Seaside @ San Miguel by the Bay
Seaside Drive, Mall of Asia Complex
Tel. Number 4826609
Ortigas Home Depot Complex
Dona Julia Vargas Ave. cor. Meralco Ave.
Tel. No. 6386303
Dampa sa Farmers’ Market
Cubao, Quezon City