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The Theoretical Cook

A FOODY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Seafood at Dampa - Diosdado Macapagal Ave.







A few months ago, whenever the Brat felt like eating seafood, we had to travel all the way from Manila to Dampa at Libis, near Eastwood. With the opening of Dampa at Macapagal Ave last November, 'dampa' eating has undergone a transformation. For us, it has become a very convenient dining experience in 'authentic' setting. We used to content ourselves with the prosaic warehouse feel at Libis (still an improvement over the talipapa austerity of Dampa-Baclaran) but with the opening of the nearby Dampa, the entire fresh seafood experience has reached new levels.
The Dampa - Macapagal Ave retains the essence of the 'dampa' experience - seafood you buy fresh from the market and cooked immediately in a no-nonsense manner. In any palengke in the province or even here in the capital, what the eateries may lack in ambiance, the food more than makes up with its freshness and taste. In any dampa market, you go to the fresh seafood stall, you pick your seafood of choice, and then you pay the vendor. Afterwards, you proceed to the palutuan to have it cooked any which way you like. The eatery usually charges separate rates depending on the weight of your purchase and on how you want your seafood cooked - grilled, deep fried, buttered, in sour broth (sinigang).
There are usually fruit stands in any dampa. In Macapagal Ave, they have an array of fruits: sampaloc from Thailand (P200/kg), mangoosteen from Davao (P250/kg), longans from China (P120/kg), kiatkiat from China (P100/kg), and mangoes of all sorts from Pangasinan. The Brat bought three ripe mangoes.
In any dampa, the Brat usually has a suki crab vendor (who knows that he prefers female crabs) so we get the crab at a cheaper rate. Today, he got himself a female king crab from the Acan stall. I got myself salmon (which they imported all the way from Norway). Then we bought tiger prawns for our hot broth. We brought our seafood purchase to the Ebikani eatery (prawn n crab restaurant according to their blurb), our restaurant of choice because of their very pretty gazebo overlooking the Manila bay. The ebikani chef had fudged our garlic deep fried crab (the Brat's preference) once so we were careful in giving our cooking instructions this time. There was one time when he cooked the crab in garlic and butter - and that practically overwhelmed the taste of crab, quite a feat considering how strong crab meat tastes.
A few minutes later, we got our food. I was half-way through my grilled salmon when I felt what could only be satiation. I ate some crab claws, two pieces of tiger prawn, and then surrendered. Somehow, the salmon just didnt really go well with the crab. The tastes are too distinct - and it felt like I was insulting the other seafood by focusing on only one of them - so finally I gave up trying to be fair to them and ended up eating some more salmon. The dessert of mango fruit made me feel even fuller than usual.
We left Ebikani with three plastic bags full of left-overs - enough for two more days worth of meals. It was pretty cheap overall. We paid P590 to the vendors for the crab, tiger prawn, and salmon. We paid P560 to Ebikani for cooking our purchases.
The dampa is best experienced in the company of many friends. Its really value for money.

Seafood at the Dampa-Macapagal: (with prices)
Oyster - P 50/kg - from Aklan
Tahong - P50/kg - from Bataan
Scallop - P 250/kg - from Masbate
Kuhol - P70/kg - from Roxas
Halaan - P 70/kg - from Roxas
Bamboo shell - P100/kg - from Roxas/Aklan
Nylon shell - P80/kg - from Roxas/Aklan
Alimango - P380/kg (female); P350/kg (male/bakla) - from Roxas
Lobster - P2000/kg - from Zamboanga or Palawan
Abalone - P900/kg - from Surigao
Sugpo - P380/kg - from Roxas
Salmon - P450/kg from Roxas

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