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
UPDATE: THE PLACE IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED.
When the era of virtual media has taken over the pastime of today’s generation, you’d wonder where did the “hands-on” games go. The thrill and excitement of face-to-face interaction, planning your schemes and tactics is but incomparable even with today’s most updated and raved-about online games. And so to cure this longing, a unique restaurant concept was introduced that integrates dining experience with indoor games. DyceNDyne comes out to bring back the good ol’ days and revive our long-forgotten passion for board games.
Located along Pasig Blvd in Bagong Ilog, DyceNDyne is a hub-slash-bar-cafe for game enthusiasts with more than 300 board games in tow and a line of uniquely-prepared menu. The same owner runs Gaming Library, the country’s first online store for a vast range of board games with sources from all around the globe. And as the name suggests, you can play games while munching on their distinct selection of dishes and snacks. There is no entrance fee to the place, just order food/ drinks and be mesmerized with the huge number of games to choose from.
This isn’t your place when you’re wanting for some quiet, isolated time. You will be constantly hearing squeals, feet-stomping, table-smashing, wood slabs falling, and even glasses breaking on the floor as a result of the heightened tension.
And if you’re clueless on how to start, a staff member will kindly explain to you the mechanics and instructions of your chosen game.
Emphasizing the need to restore social skills that technology has deprived us, DyceNDyne has a bold reminder that the place is not installed with wifi. Although, with the notably attractive presentation of the food and the design of the place, you can’t help but grab your phone and take awesome photos.
And totally achieving the cafe’s objective, my pals and I lost track of time as we immersed ourselves with the board games. There were lots of panic attacks, screaming and shrieking, giggling and conversing in between!
We played Coup: Rebellion G54 a card game about portraying characters with different powers. Players are eliminated by bluffing and negotiation, and the last player with influence wins.
Geistes is a game about analyzing which object is different or similar with the card. The player who identifies the correct object takes the rest of the cards, and the most number of cards wins.
Getting ourselves lost in the game course, we barely felt hungry. We opted for finger foods instead and tried Nachos Against Humanity and Munchkin Sliders. Even the food names were hilariously labeled after famous games!
The heap of corn tortillas was topped with chili con carne, cheese, jalapeno, olives and tomatoes. This was my expected, traditional serving of nachos although I’d appreciate it more if they abundantly garnish it with more ingredients such as cheese.
The Munchkin Sliders presented a delectable combination of corned beef, hash browns and sunny-side up quail eggs. I loved not only its contrasting colors, but the brilliant idea of fusing a breakfast treat in a sandwich that is crunchy and oh-so-delicious.
Talk about their concoction of drinks by Chemistea, served in laboratory apparatus such as beakers and Erlenmeyer Flasks. We had Milo Dinosaur, Milk Tea and Matcha Espresso. Experiment with their row of beverages as it caters to different people with a knack for coffee, milktea, fruit juices, local beer or soda.
If you want to prolong the fun, games and other merchandise are for sale at the counter. You may check this website too if you want to purchase/ pre-order your preferred game http://www.gaminglib.com/.
Reservations in advance are advised, especially that the venue gets packed on weekends.
Nowadays, getting that most wanted vacation does not necessarily mean moving out of the city. For many, staycation has been a popular alternative for taking that much needed break, by simply staying at nearby hotel to enjoy its indoor facilities – reserving the hassle of a lengthy road trip. Yes, there are those days that I wanted to escape the mold of a dead routine- working and going home, responsibilities that constitute a normal adult life. And so to my surprise, I was fortunate enough to be one of the recipients of a free overnight stay at a posh hotel given by our company!
Renowned as one of the five-star hotels in the country, Sofitel Philippine Plaza promises luxurious comfort to its guests through its premiere amenities, beautiful ambiance and first class hotel service. Situated at the heart of Pasay City, the hotel gives an exquisite view of the Manila Bay where sunrise and sunsets can be seen prominently. It also boasts of the famous Spiral buffet tagged as one of the best buffets in Manila.
There is no better way of celebrating this reward than by sharing it to my entire family.
Our Luxury Room was located on the 8th floor. The sight of pristine white sheets will instantly lure you to try its absolute softness. The pillows and comforters were the fluffiest I have tried in my entire life that I wanted to sink into the mattress and fall to a deep, uninterrupted sleep. Sofitel uses its signature MyBed linens for its exceptionally soft beddings.
The room’s private balcony has a relaxing view of the tranquil Manila Bay at day, and the nice view of the city life at night.
The room is fully furnished with broadband internet access, a work desk, safety vault, mini bar, coffee/ tea making facilities, storage cabinets, 32-inch cable TV, flat iron, and hangers. Contemporary with a flair of Filipino touch defines the design of the room. Native materials were used in some of the ornaments and furnishings. The lamps and soap dish are made out of Capiz shells, the walls are adorned with coconut inlay, while the small toilet drawer and coffee and tea storage box are made of woven rattan.
Although I was saddened by the fact that bathtubs are only available in suite rooms (yes my close friends know that I am a die-hard fan of bathtubs 🙂 ), I was impressed by the elegance and neatness of the bathroom. It is fully equipped with bath essentials such as toiletries, towels, blower and bathrobes. The hot-and-cold rain shower and toilet are divided by a glass door. And what makes it more special is that Les notes de Lanvin soaps from Paris, France are available for consumption.
The other areas of the hotel exude sophistication too – from the corridors, elevators, lobby, lounges, and reception area.
We also enjoyed taking a quick tour at their facilities such as the gym and spa. Le Spa has a charming aura perfect for relaxation. We had a short dip at the jacuzzi but the water was not warm enough the way we wanted it. We opted to stay longer at the sauna instead, because the steam room was not functioning too at the moment. The massage was something we weren’t able try due to lack of time. Plus, the rates are quite expensive too than my usual spa treatments. I’d better try it the next time around.
And of course, the Sofitel experience wouldn’t be sealed without the Spiral Buffet! I chose my mom to be my companion at the complimentary breakfast buffet, simply because I believe she deserves the best treatment. And just like me, she was taken aback with getting confused at the wide variety of dishes to choose from. It was nice seeing her all giddy and excited roaming around at her own pace! As both first timers at this grand buffet, we parted ways so we can freely explore and select food according to our preference. If given the chance, I would make another story focused on the intricate details of Spiral alone.
As expected, there were assigned chefs at each dining atelier to cook your customized requests.
There is a separate room for cheese and cold cuts, which amazed me. The mango cheese particularly had me.
Freshly baked, warm breads are always a good way to start the morning. Goes perfectly with your hot cup of coffee or sweetened chocolate.
The French station has a wide array of frankfurters, sausages and appetizers.
Although there is a big range of global delicacies to feast on, it will never match my deep affinity for the traditional Filipino breakfast – Tapa, Sinangag and of course, Bacon.
Sofitel’s pool area is such a magnificent sight to behold. The landscaped gardens surrounding the lagoon-shaped crystal blue pool, with Manila Bay as the backdrop is just perfect.
Dotted with palm trees and beach huts, the area is converted to a spectacular resort in the tropical region.
The custom-made beach chairs and beds are a thoughtful addition to the lovely resort setting.
If you choose to stay until late afternoon, you will witness the bay bathing in glorious sunset.
An ideal venue to relax and unwind, the garden has hammocks where you can peacefully read a book or observe nature.
True to its ideals, Sofitel indeed brings its patrons to a high level of impeccable hotel experience. Undeniably, this is one of the best vacations I’ve had so far.
I was planning to simply treat my family with an overnight stay at a condo in BGC to celebrate the New Year. But God is so gracious that He surprised me with this unexpected present. God knows the desires of our heart, and when He is ready to give it, He will bless us with things beyond our measure – far greater than what our eyes can see or decipher. The best things in life are indeed free. I was grateful of this opportunity not only to indulge in my whims, but to have the time to bond with my family and make them happy.
Tel: (+632) 551-5555
Fax: (632) 551-5610