Nothing beats fresh food made with fresh ingredients. That’s why the farm-to-table movement, which basically means using local and fresh ingredients produced nearby, has become increasingly popular in restaurants to date. Instead of the farm, however, we head out to the sea.
The sea-to-table movement, or what we know as “dampa“, refers to a marketplace and a bunch of restaurants all rolled into one. The beauty of dining in a dampa means buying seafood or meat and having it cooked for a small fee (paluto). That way, you’re sure about the quality of the meat they use; that said, the meat is fresh. You even have free reign to choose how you want it cooked. It’s like a customized dining experience at a much more affordable price compared to curated menus and private meals.
The downside, however, is that most of these dampas are down South, usually in Pasay or areas near the seaside. So, what can a Northie like me indulge in? Seafood and Ribs Warehouse.
The first dampa located in a mall, Seafood and Ribs Warehouse is a family-owned restaurant that started out as a resort-turned-restaurant in Southern Leyte in 2014. Playing to their strengths of flourishing seafood combined with the many possibilities that Filipino cuisine has to offer, Seafood and Ribs Warehouse became a hit in the Visayas region, prompting them to open more branches in Cebu and eventually, Manila.
Seafood and Ribs Warehouse aims to introduce the dampa paluto-style to malls as a way to make it more accessible to families and mallgoers.
A bridge between markets and city centers, Seafood and Ribs guarantees a wide selection of seafood and meat— delivered fresh daily— which you can select for yourself and have cooked. Just look at all of the stuff they’ve got lined up!
They’ve got classic seafood…
… marinated meats…
…and even crisp veggies for a balanced meal!
The best part? They don’t have a cooking fee! That’s right— all you need to do is pay for the meat or seafood that you choose by weight (or by piece in some cases), decide how you want it prepared, and you’re good to go! While most restaurants (especially the ones with many branches) have a commissary where they prep and pre-cook some dishes to save on waiting time, Seafood and Ribs Warehouse does everything in their own kitchen, giving themselves a head start on freshness and quality.
Not sure what to do with your catch of the day? Seafood and Ribs Warehouse specializes in Filipino food, so their repertoire is wide— from Manila favorites like Sinigang and Bulalo soups to viands such as the well-loved Sisig dish. They even offer Visayan dishes that pay homage to their origins, like Kinilaw (ceviche), Sugba (grilled meats) or Tinola chicken soup— some of which are adjusted to the Manila palate in terms of spiciness.
If you do think about it, their rates are competitive compared to the individual dishes that other restaurants serve. Plus, they offer ala carte dishes of their own to go with these freshly cooked seafood and meat dishes.
Now, what’s food without drinks to go with it? Seafood and Ribs Warehouse’s bestsellers include your choice of shakes or juices made with fresh fruits – truly a showcase of the best produce that the Philippines has to offer. Our favorites include their Ripe Mango Shake, Calamansi Shake and Buko Juice.
If you’re looking for something that you can share, their pitchers will do you well. The flavors include Cucumber Lemonade, the classic Iced Tea, and the Seafood Warehouse drink, which is their take on the fruity Four Seasons.
Set in a bright open-air space, the restaurant features a clean space set aglow with yellow lamps and the afternoon sunlight streaming from the windowsill. Multiple long benches and wooden tables scatter the large space, allowing large groups of friends and family to come together and eat in a cozy setting with dishes made for sharing.
That’s not the only reason for these long tables, thouggh. Aside from entertaining large groups, these tables are made for the famous boodle fight platters of Seafood and Ribs Warehouse. And let me tell you: they’ve got a story to back their hearty platter.
Boodle Fight: Halabira
Seafood and Ribs Warehouse calls their tray the “Halabira“— a combination of the Cebuano words “hala” meaning sige (go) and “bira” which means kain, or to eat. When put together, it’s an encouragement to eat, and to share an amazingly hefty boodle feast with friends or family.
The Halabira comes in two sizes. The standard one good for 3 to 4 people, while their newly launched mini Halabira can feed 2 to 3 people. Here’s what each boodle platter has in it:
The classic Halabira features a bed of White Rice sitting on banana leaves, and atop it lies the bestselling seafood and meats that Seafood and Ribs Warehouse has to offer. These include the Chorizo de Cebu— tiny sausages that are meaty and sweet— along with Chicken Inasal (a Bacolod favorite) or smoky Liempo pork belly, depending on what’s available.
Vegetables include Ensaladang Lato, a briny seaweed salad made with a kind of seaweed that looks like grapes, plus Grilled Eggplant topped with diced tomatoes and onions, along with Grilled Okra— for your dose of healthy greens. And let’s not forget the Seasonal Fruit to cleanse the palate, which was watermelon in our case.
Their array of seafood includes freshly steamed Shrimp that just slides off the shell, and a lightly salted grilled Tilapia fish. Baked Tahong (mussels) and Scallops, each one topped with a hefty amount of cheddar cheese, line the platter. What makes this Halabira special, though, is a Cebuano dish called the Adobong Sarad, which is only available in Manila.
A delicacy in the Visayas region, this stew features pieces of sarad (shellfish) and scallop directly sourced from Samar and Cebu. It’s then cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves for aroma— their take on the well-loved national dish. Here, the briny flavors of the sea really stand out. It’s best enjoyed with rice since the sauce is very flavorful.
Mini Halabira (Php499)
To answer the demands for a smaller platter that couples can eat together on date night, Seafood and Ribs Warehouse recently launched their Mini Halabira, which includes the essentials to get you started— more seafood and veggies, that is.
This includes the classic bed of White Rice, a stick of Chorizo de Cebu, and greens in the form of Grilled Eggplant with the tomato and onion combo on top, Lato Salad (Filipino-style salsa featuring tomatoes, onions and beans sitting in sour vinegar), and Pinakbet— a stew made with squash, eggplant and beans that’s cooked in a bagoong fish sauce. This was a crowd favorite since all the veggies are crisp, especially the squash.
For the seafood, there’s Grilled Shrimp cut butterfly-style and Grilled Tilapia fish— an essential to their boodle fight. The sweet end to this large meal? More Seasonal Fruit!
A Grand Performance
Each Halabira is delivered to the table in a grand fashion Ati-atihan style, featuring a special dance and upbeat music paired with lots of laughter and fun. It’s a real fiesta! Check out our video at the end to get a glimpse of it!
Following their rousing success in Quezon City, the restaurant plans to open a new branch this April. While the location is still a secret, the owner hints that they plan to go down South. That way, the Southies have something to look forward to this coming summer!
Seafood and Ribs Warehouse
Second Floor, North Towers, SM City North EDSA, Bago Bantay, Quezon City