Dampa of the South: trying Market Basket’s seafood bestsellers
I CONSIDER MYSELF a seafood person foremost—I can’t imagine life not waking up to the smell of crispy danggit in the morning, or the reveling delight that is in my mother’s sarchadong dalagang bukid for lunch; and, at night, going to my favorite sashimi joints in Little Tokyo to let the week pass by.
With that said, I am also a fan of dampa-palutuan; I didn’t mind growing up in a family whose fallback plan was always the Pasay dampa whenever a family occasion like birthdays, or… other birthdays, came up. And Market Basket in Alabang, Muntinlupa City is no different—I loved Market Basket, Riverpark’s popular ‘dampa’ style restaurant. Market Basket will be making headways this year with its new menu. And I got the chance to try the restaurant’s new dishes, as well as its bestsellers.
The pomelo salad is a Southeast Asian delicacy. While common in the Philippines as a ceviche, it’s a full-meal in other countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. Market Basket’s version is tangy, sweet, and herby. It was the perfect appetizer for the series of dishes that followed.
Fruits and nuts salad
Almond clusters, fruit slices, grape, diced mangoes lime juice and purple lettuce make this dish a well-balanced snack or even desert.
A new item in Market Basket’s menu, the fish ceviche makes a great snack. Bangus fish ceviche served on toasted tortilla chips then garnished with salad dressing. Great for wines and conversations, too.
One of Market Basket’s new dishes for this year. Parmesan cheese melted then toasted to saddle Market Basket’s version of the Mexican taco ingredients—roast beef, tomatoes and aragula leaves, onions and lime juice. The toasted parmesan doesn’t come on strong too, making way for other the other flavors. The parmesan taco is unique and is a must when you’re at Market Garden.
Chili and garlic crab
The chili crab is one of the favorites at Market Basket. The crabs are imported daily from the neighboring province of Cavite. First, the crabs are steamed, then cooked with peppercorns, lemons, toasted garlic and chilies.
The Mussels Marinaire is my favorite in the menu. Mussels baked with creamy tartare sauce and herbs is as basic at it can get, but the softness and sweetness of the mussel meat will make a long-lasting impression for anyone.
The Prawn Thermidor is the piece de resistance of Market Basket’s newest menu—baked prawn meat with melted, gooey, parmesan cheese and a bit of tomato sauce with a side of purple lettuce and . Inspired by the French dish, the Lobster Thermidor, Market Basket’s Prawn Thermidor is a must for any seafood lover.
Crab fat fried rice
And what better way to pair these delicious seafood dishes than with seafood rice! The crab fat fried rice of Market Basket may look too flavorful and strong at first, but it is actually light; there isn’t much crab fat put into the rice for a balanced and healthy mix.
Market Basket is a modern take on the traditional Filipino dampa, where customers can choose their own fresh ingredients from a market and then, have it cooked according to their liking. Guests at Market Basket can do just that; they can pick the most farm-fresh ingredients from Market Basket’s display and have it cooked according to their preference. They may also alternatively choose from Market Basket’s diverse menu and have the dish customized according to their tastes. All ingredients, from vegetables to seafood to meat, are sourced from farms around Manila, so customers can be assured of freshness.
According to Market Basket’s proprietor and manager, the new menu is meant to captivate younger diners like young professionals, single diners, couples and small groups of young people, veering away from their traditional focus as a family restaurant. Open from 10 AM to 11 PM, Market Basket is also the ideal place for wine & dine, and to also accommodate late-night workers.