How could we go on a Filipino cuisine food tour without exploring the joys of the very Pinoy dampa! These humble, down-to-earth restaurants are a treasure trove for seafood lovers and so we trekked to Macapagal Avenue to their Seaside dampa to feast in a restaurant called Trinity. Usually, you have to go to the market to buy your ingredients and they just cook what you bought. But you can also just order from the menu and they’ll do everything for you. I must say, one of the restaurants I enjoyed the most so far.
Crispy Kangkong and Ensaladang Mangga
We started out with appetizers, crispy kangkong and ensaladang mangga. I’m not a big fan of crispy kangkong, so I wasn’t really excited when we picked that as an appetizer. But I must say, this version is the best I’ve tasted ever! The batter was very thinly applied, and so the kangkong ended up super crispy. I’ve never enjoyed crispy kangkong quite like this. I’m a big fan of ensaladang mangga (we always remove the onions though) so it’s a given that I enjoyed it too.
Of course we had soup to start the main meal. We opted for tinola with tons of malunggay, which was Delle’s request since malunggay is excellent for nursing moms. I love malunggay in anything (like munggo and other soups) so this was a good start for the dining extravaganza that was to follow.
Inihaw na Liempo
Let me get the non-seafood dishes out of the way, because inasmuch as the inihaw na liempo is a Pinoy favorite, the seafood dishes took center stage for this meal. I really wanted to eat more of this delicious ulam, but the seafood was just beckoning a little too successfully.
Halabos Na Sugpo
I’ve always LOVED halabos even as a kid. But the halabos I’m used to are the smaller shrimps, so when they brought out this halabos na sugpo, I was in heaven! We made a sawsawan of toyo, spicy suka, clamansi and siling labuyo for this. Oh my lord, it was sooo good! There were 4 of us eating, and 2 were allergic to shrimps (Delle included), so me and a friend had a field day. I also eat halabos with tomatoes and patis, but whatever the sawsawan, I’m a happy boy when there’s halabos.
Inihaw na Pusit
I saved the last two dishes, which I thought were the best ones, for last. Again, I’m not partial to squid, I’m more of a shrimp and crab person, usually because my experience is that the squid comes out rubbery and hard to chew (much more swallow and digest). This squid was the most tender, flavorful squid I’ve had in a long time. It was just melting in my mouth. If all squid was as easy to chew as this, I’d be eating more squid.
Oh. My. Lord. I ate so much of this finger-licking crab that I felt a little woozy after. This crab had so many levels of yummy that I don’t even know where to start describing it. Again, 2 of us 4 were allergic to crabs so us two who were left were tasked to devour most of this crustacean, and we stepped up to the challenge. As a kid, our family used to go to Aurelio’s along Roxas boulevard to feast on their crab buffet, so eating crab this good brings back very good memories. The crabs we had were all male, so we didn’t get any aligue (which is good, given my cholesterol levels), but I can imagine if the crab we had was also bursting with that red gold of goodness! I swear, it was so good that writing about it now makes me salivate all over again!
I guess what this experience shows is that you don’t need to go to an expensive restaurant to eat good Pinoy food. In fact even smaller restaurant like the ones in dampas would put the expensive ones to shame. The crispy kangkong, the pusit and the crab alone are worth every centavo you’ll pay. Eating good Pinoy food like these really reminds me of family memories, they come flooding back as I take mouthfuls of say, sugpo or alimango. And when the food is this good, the conversation becomes just as fueled. We really enjoyed our lunch today, hope to have more like these in the coming stops.