I come to Manila several times a year for work, which has given me the fortune of developing a great group of friends that have helped me experience the Philippines from the pure and honest perspective that only locals can offer, starting with their food!
One of my favorite culinary discoveries in Manila, and a staple of the city, is the seafood market that the locals call "dampa". The market has several fresh-caught seafood stands (where you buy the raw seafood for your meal) and restaurants (where you take your food to be cooked in a variety of styles). I am lucky that among my friends there is an amazing chef at a very reputable restaurant in the city who obviously leads the way. As we move from stand to stand, I observe and take it all in. Even though I don't understand the exchange in Tagalo, I do understand the protocol in the market: get the best price possible, include a variety of seafood items and don't forget to SMILE, it's staple of the culture of the Philippines.
We make our way towards Josefine's, the restaurant that has become part of our "dampa tradition" every time I come to town. We order our classic dishes: Calamari Adobo, Chili-Butter Shrimp, Steamed Lapu-Lapu, Prawns Tempura... oh did I mention all is served family style? trust me, you won't leave hungry... it's a never-ending feast!!
Enough said! If you are a seafood lover like me... you are going to love this place!