When dining as a group, Dampa is always a favored option. For one, servings come in huge portions ideal for sharing. Secondly, the ingredients are fresh, sourced from the restaurant’s market. But sometimes, the budget becomes a consideration. Prices shoot up based on the quantity of the fresh produce, and the cost of labor too. However, we found a dining place in Markina that defied all these notions. Dampa sa Riverbanks proved that a gastronomic treat doesn’t have to be as costly as we think it is.
All the way from Pasig, we traveled to Marikina to satisfy a long-time hankering for seafood. The quest is about finding good food that won’t burn a hole in our wallets.
There are several stalls in the area, with color-coded tables that distinguish one from the other. The items are similar though. We spotted a table that isn’t facing the sun at high noon and has nice angle of the Marikina Amphitheater.
The set-up is reminiscent of college days – those frequent food trips at a cheap carinderia nearby with nothing but good friends as company, enjoying hearty conversations, then a stroll at the park after. Ah, carefree days and fond memories.
The vibrant colors note freshness. And just like any typical Dampa, you have the liberty to choose from its neatly arranged stack of meat and seafood, and dictate its cooking method from grilled, baked, buttered, fried to Sinigang. The prices range from 80-200 per serving, which is good for 3-4 people. It’s a bit different than the Dampa in Libis or Pasay where prices vary according to kilogram.
While waiting for the orders to arrive, Ilonggo’s Grill served us complimentary green mango with shrimp paste.
It was pure craving for seafood at that time, that that day we abstained from meat. We had Buttered Shrimps, Buttered Mussels, Sizzling Squid, Sizzling Blue Marlin and Salmon Belly Sinigang to roll out a seafood feast.
Of all, the sizzling Blue Marlin was hailed as my favorite. The real challenge on preparing a complicated dish like this is to perfect its texture, while preserving the flavor. Surprisingly, it did meet my expectations. It was downright flavorful and tender, just the way I like it. It was devoid of the fishy aftertaste – something chefs nowadays tend overlook as an important element in seafood preparation. Smothered in sweet buttery sauce, the fish is seared with bursting flavors that is addictive to the core, that it wouldn’t be complete without a hot bowl of steamed rice.
Shrimp inarguably sits on my book of top comfort foods. I presume that more reviews will be told about this favorite food of my mine, as you go along and read my blog. Forgetting to order this that day would be a mortal sin. We ordered Sizzling Buttered Shrimp, a timeless classic recipe not difficult to love.
We never thought that cheese could go well with Sizzling Squid. The layers of cheese and tomatoes balanced out the rich seasoning, making it slightly sweet. It wasn’t rubbery but it was not too soft either.
Again, covered a with a bed of cheddar cheese. Baked Tahong or Mussels were too small pieces for me, but nevertheless it tasted good. It would be better though if they served the large or medium ones.
The broth of Salmon Belly Sinigang was just right and not too overpowering. However, I am not really into Salmon Belly that much. That slimy, fishy stench makes me uncomfortable. But if it will rated on the soup, I’d definitely recommend it as a wise pick.
It’s typically a Filipino household right there with all condiments and dining utensils present on the table. The servers were hospitable too, assisting all our needs and requests. They even gave us extra servings of green mango as a treat.
The aftermath. A beautiful mess. Definitely not bad for Php 180 per head.
It was one fine day. Tummies full, heavy laughter. Good food, good company. Those beautiful things that aren’t necessarily grand, but are honest and heart-warming.
DAMPA SA RIVERBANKS
A. Bonifacio Ave, Riverbanks Mall
Marikina, Metro Manila