Despite scientific research and casual beach observation telling us that the ocean is full of plastic, us humans just can’t quit seafood. Especially not shrimp. Especially not in a country where you can get them still fresh and wriggling minutes before they reach your plate. Let’s all take a minute to appreciate our geographic placement.
But our upwardly moving city life has caused many of us to forget about our proximity to the sea. If you want to reconnect with the island life, here are some of the places you can go to enjoy your hipon.
They serve shrimp inside a plastic bag by the pound at Shrimp Bucket, and since its opening back in 2012, many a customer have wondered, "Didn’t I come here to eat out of a bucket?" But apparently, the sauce mixes better with prawn when placed in a transparent bag. Cleanup is easier because you just throw the plastic back to the ocean where they now comfortably belong. If you can stop caring for the earth for a few hours, you can get lost in the many fantastic sauces (Salted Eggsperience ftw). They serve some meat, so this is a place where you can take that carnivore friend (picky eater) who can’t be expected to join a trip to Dampa.
If you can’t help but humble-braggedly throw back to your Singapore trip every Thursday on Instagram, then this little hawker-type spot may just be your thing. Shiok Shiok in Banawe recognizes the nation’s collective love for salted eggs, and big, fat, juicy shrimp. The crustacean experience is immensely enhanced by their cereal prawns. Some of us just like our seafood with lots of crunch and butter.
Bag o’ Shrimps
Unlike its fierce and delicious competitor, Bag o’ Shrimps is more upfront with their nomenclature and method of serving prawns. If you have control issues or problems with authority, you may find Bag o’ Shrimps a little too pushy with the encouragement to eat with your hands and get "as messy as possible." It’s a place where everyone choreographically stops to stare at you when you inconspicuously ask the server for a piece of utensil. But the feeling of embarrassment only lasts until you’ve had your fill of Very Hot Cajun. You can find Bag o’ Shrimps in Megamall, Taguig, and Kapitolyo.
Blackbeard’s Seafood Island
The popularity and longevity of Seafood Island have made modern foodies ignore its simple yet reliable offerings in favor of more obscure places with literal holes in their walls. While they don’t highlight "shrimp" with bourgeois flavors like lemon pepper or adopt Louisiana-inspired trends, it’s still one of the best places to munch on some fresh seaside catches. Why? Sometimes shrimp is best eaten together with other seafood and perhaps a few slices of inihaw na liempo. You may find Seafood Island at just about any family-friendly mall.
Asakusa: Home of Tempura
We all have that one cousin who makes it a point to hoard ebi tempura as soon as they are lovingly dumped onto the buffet serving tray. That cousin might even be you. No blame is placed upon your desire to score some deep-fried blessings from the ocean, but if that is your goal, it’s best that you just head to Asakusa in Rockwell Grove.
Blue Posts Boiling Crabs and Shrimps
This Davao-borne joint wows with their buttered cereal shrimp pieces served in—you guessed it—plastic bags! They also offer biodegradable plastic bibs because in 2018 it matters that the thing that catches your crumbs can decompose faster. This makes it the most kid-friendly one among its contemporaries. One day, seafood restaurants will realize the irony of associating with so much plastic. But until that day, one is still free to enjoy the generous variety of flavored vinegar to pair with your bag of shrimp and corn cobs over at Blue Posts.
Pretense-free Dampa is still the obvious answer to the question, "Where do I go for great shrimp?" If you like your seafood real fresh, personally handpicked, and cooked the way you like, then this is your turf. The choices can be overwhelming, especially if you can’t tell a bangus from a lapu-lapu. But fortunately we all know what raw shrimp looks like.