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[Review] Dampa Seaside Paluto

There are several "Dampa" restaurants out there and although they share a common theme (a wet market on one side where you can buy fresh seafood and other ingredients and a number of restaurants or stalls on the other side where you can have your newly purchased raw ingredients cooked however you preferred it only limited by the expertise of the cooking establishment), the one in Pasay is one of the pioneering places that started that trend.

It is debatable which place is the "original" as I personally suspect that these  places have just naturally evolved from originally being a "bagsakan" or delivery hub of fresh seafood for the various markets around the area and some enterprising individuals thought it was a brilliant idea to offer cooking services just besides the "source" to have the freshest seafood the area has to offer.  There are just too many places that they have tried to replicate the success of these places with mixed results. Most of the time, these newer places will have seafood delivered to them from the aforementioned seafood delivery hubs so they will never be as fresh.

The Dampa Seaside Paluto compound in Macapagal Blvd. in Pasay consists of a narrow alleyway that houses various stalls that sells fresh seafood and quite a number of restaurants/cooking establishments scattered around the area where they will cook your freshly bought seafood for a fee typically by weight. They will present a cooking fee list showcasing their specialty in cooking various types of dishes. These can be simple road side stalls with small tables and benches to much bigger air-conditioned restaurants each with their own unique way of cooking. They have places that specializes in specific cuisines both local and international. Oh and there is an open parking lot at the back so you don't have to worry if you drive there.

It was just after the new year that I have decided to bring my mom to Dampa Seaside Paluto since we both loved seafood. After a quick look around the market area, we decided to buy some live alupihan dagat (mantis shrimp), alimasag (blue shelled crabs), a big head of the maya-maya fish (red snapper), and a whole managat fish (also another type of snapper). It is a good thing that my mom was with me at the time since I have always felt uncomfortable with the idea of haggling for the lowest price (which is somehow expected in this kind of situation). 

The next step is choosing a good place to have these items cooked. We eventually settled at Claire Dela Fuente's restaurant having read some good reviews online. So basically you pay the restaurant for the cooking fee (prices are per weight of the main ingredient and differs depending on the dish), rice, and drinks. We asked that they cook the mantis shrimps in light soy and chives, the crabs in butter garlic sauce, the big maya-maya fish into sinigang sa miso (sour tamarind and miso broth), with the managat fish grilled whole. I have to says that everything tasted so good. The mantis shrimps were cooked to perfection (they are so easy to overcook and they become rather tough) and the butter garlic sauce of the crabs was so yummy we could not help but spoon some of the sauce into our rice. The broth of the sinigang was also just the way I like it (that is to say that they have amped up the sourness from the tamarind) and you can never go wrong with grilled fresh managat with the nice juicy flesh that you enjoy by dipping in toyo at kalamansi (light-soy and lime dipping sauce).

Alupihan dagat (mantis shrimps) in light soy and chives, 

Alimasag (blue shelled crabs) in butter garlic sauce

Sinigang na ulo ng maya maya sa miso (fish head in sour tamarind and miso broth) 

Inihaw na Managat (charcoal grilled snapper) 

If you are a seafood lover and happens to be in Metro Manila, give Dampa Seaside Paluto a try. It is best to come as a group of course so you can go ahead and buy several kinds of fresh seafood to share with your  friends (there's a minimum weight for the cooking fee so even if you ask them to cook 1/4 kilo shellfish they will charge you for the price of half a kilo for example so just be mindful of that) . You can always go back and try another cooking place to experience something completely different the next time you visit. This place offers a lot of possibilities and I will just end with that statement since it is virtually impossible to review these kinds of places based on a single visit. As for me, I can't wait to go back!     

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