Food Tripping in Davao

7 03 2009

Upon reading the inflight magazine of Cebu Pacific, I made mental notes of a few places to see and some foods to try.   We reached Davao at around 10 a.m. and after checking in at Apo View Hotel, left right away for our business meeting. 

With less than a day to get around the city, we tried to squeeze our activities to get the most out of Davao.   We started with our late lunch (the meeting ended at around 1:15 p.m.) at the Marina Tuna Seafoods Market and Restaurant in Sasa, which is about 20-minute drive from downtown.  As the name implies, this dining place boasts of Davao’s authentic tuna and also swordfish dishes like the kinilaw (raw cubed fish marinated in vinegar and spices) or seviche, sizzling or grilled belly,  grilled panga (jaw), bagaybay (male egg) sizzling or adobo (in soy sauce and vinegar), bihod (female egg) sizzling, sashimi, among others.   It also offers other fish and seafood dishes made of Alaska salmon, stingray, prawns, etc.

The clams in our soup were the biggest I had ever seen with round eye-like meat, not the regular flat-type.  For our appetizer, we had kinilaw.  I’m not that much into this dish but Marina Tuna’s version was perfect for me, not too sour,  with the freshest tuna I had ever tasted, still reddish unlike in the typical kinilaw.   I was introduced to several dishes like the bagaybay sizzling and adobo.  Bagaybay was described by our client as some kind of fish internal organ but upon dining in another resto come dinner time, the menu says that it’s the egg of a male tuna.  I wasn’t expecting it to be that delectable.  It is something worth ordering over again in my future visits to Davao but I wouldn’t dare try it in another resto but Marina Tuna.   Another new outstanding dish for me was the grilled swordfish  which has a tenderer meat compared with tuna.  We were told that swordfish is rarely found in Manila restos and markets, so this one is really a must-try.   

Marina Tuna Dishes

We also had the all-time favorite grilled tuna belly but I’m telling you, it was equally buonissimo.  It was interesting to note that Davao’s grilled dishes are not dry.   We had been to two more famous dining places there and tried  their own versions of grilled fish, both still had the juiciness of the fish meat.

And of course, you can’t find the most delicious durian shake anywhere but in Davao.   Even though I was suffering from severe cough that time, I didn’t pass up the chance to have a taste of the fruit shake.  And it didn’t fail my expectation… with so much creaminess due to the generous amount of the fresh fruit, it seemed that I had a whole durian in my glass.  Another must-try in Marina Tuna.  The pomelo juice, which my colleague ordered, was also a lot better than the pomelo juice here in Manila.

Durian and Melon Shakes

At the hotel, while resting and waiting for our former colleague who decided to return to his native city more than 10 years ago, I and my co-worker each finished  a half kilo of mangosteen, another native fruit in the city.  

It was alternately drizzling and raining since 2 p.m. but that didn’t stop us to go to Jack’s Ridge at Matina Hills where a chain of restos and bars sit.   This place, which is the equivalent of  Antipolo,  offers a spectacular view of the Davao Gulf and the nearby Samal Island.   But on that rainy night, we didn’t get the chance to enjoy the view.  We went straight to the first restaurant facing the marker, the Taklobo Restaurant, and had mixed seafood sinigang, for our soup, which was lacking of the regular veggies.   Our former colleague shared that Davao does not abound in vegetables unlike Manila.   No wonder the chopsuey (stir-fried vegetables) in the menu costs more than the grilled dishes.   In my little research,  it says that there’s an alarming situation in the city co’z some vegetable farms were converted to banana and pineapple plantations. 

So we tried the restaurant’s version of  tuna kinilaw,  which was not equally as good as Marina Tuna’s and ordered grilled malasugue (blue marlin) and shrimp camarones to complete our light dinner.   To compare, I and my co-worker still prefers Marina Tuna.

Malasugue Kinilaw

The next day, we feasted on local and western fare for our breakfast at the hotel.  There we met some acquaintances who happened to be in the same hotel, also on official travel.   One suggested that we try this resto offering buffet at Php99  for our lunch.   It started to drizzle at around 11 a.m. and then there was a downpour before 12 noon.  When we reached Ah Fat resto at the Victoria Plaza, we were disappointed to see that the entrance was flooded.    No choice and we were running out of time (we got to leave the hotel at 3 p.m. to catch our return flight) so we asked the cab driver to bring us to Penong’s, a famous barbeque and seafood grill place, just a few meters away from our hotel.    

We had Inato  (Combo Meal) No. 2 or chicken barbeque and again grilled tuna (for the nth time).   But, still nothing can replace Marina Tuna’s version.   The chicken barbeque – juicy and delicious – I must say, was inarguably cheap (combo costs Php55).

Penongs Chicken Bbq & Grilled Tuna

Our total food experience in Davao was really a cheap indulgence.  I really wish we had more time…. Till next time!

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