Gettin Dirty in Dampa

By Mark Wiens 28 Comments

I had been eying, smelling, hearing, and came close to touching, but still had not officially tasted the famous Dampa seafood extravaganza in Manila, the Philippines.

Dave Damron from Life Excursion (check out his site) donated a small monetary fund which translated directly into getting dirty in some Dampa, also known as engorgement.

Eating seafood dampa was one of my favorite meals in Manila.

Dampa Wet Market
Wet seafood market, Manila

Dampa is a wet market full of all living and dead great tasting things from the sea.  Stalls at the market are piled high with an abundance of ultra fresh, squirming goodness.

I went to the Macapagal Blvd. Dampa market near the bay which had an impressive amount of restaurants set up right around.  Anton from Our Awesome Planet has more information on the “Perfect Dampa.”

At Dampa, seafood can be purchased, immediately cooked, and lives can be changed forever.

The normal procedure as I appropriately discovered is to first choose a restaurant.  A waiter will escort you to the market, you will purchase various kilograms of your fresh seafood smorgasbord of choice, and then carry the bags back to the restaurant.

As with almost all quality meals, one is then faced with a dreadful but glorious dilemma, “what style, method, or flavor of cooking should be utilized?”

Mussels in Manila
Mussels with cheese

For the fish we choose steamed with soy sauce, sesame oil and onions.

The prawns were cooked in an artful coconut blended curry and the mussels were cooked with an abundance of rich cheese and garlic.  The crab was my oral highlight, cooked supremely in a heavenly chili sauce with assorted vegetables.

Chili Crab Dampa
Chili crab

When I ate Dampa, I reserved my mouth 100% for the food, not to waste a single breath on conversation. My biggest mistake of the evening was wearing denim jeans with a belt, leaving my stomach with little expansion and forcing me to unbutton.

Getting dirty in Dampa was truly sensational.  In the middle of the meal, I felt my heart beat rapidly and the sweat from my brow began to water-flow.

At the end of the meal I felt like I had run a marathon or completed a steeplechase, overcoming all hurdles and obstacles to perfection (crab shell, prawn skin etc.).  For the effort, I still think there should be some sort of medal for getting dirty in Dampa.

I hope you too can get dirty in some dampa soon.

28 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Thomas

    2 years ago

    I look forward for my next trip to the Philippines to enjoy my first Dampa Meal…

    Thank you Omar fir sending this great review of our next meal in Manila..
    Love, Daf

  • vishal kaushik

    3 years ago

    Nice!! Keep sharing.

  • Suzie

    6 years ago

    I love watching your video every day! Your travel information are so detailed and informative and genuine with all the wonderful places and food that you took us with you! That is how I feel like I was there with your family! Thanks so much for all your hard work! Deeply appreciate everything you have done! I know it looks easy but really involve lots of long hours of work and devotion! You earned my ten thumbs for you and your wife Ying and your baby boy Myka????????????

  • Robert

    9 years ago


    What restaaurant fixed the seafood you got at the dampa? I’ll be in Manila soon and I want some of those mussels with garlic and cheese. My mouth saarted watering as soon as I saw the picture and read the description. I really want t take my GF when I get back.

  • Pierre

    13 years ago

    I like seafood actually, but I I don’t know. The picture of the scallops makes me lose my appetite. I think I’d rather choose crab when I visit Dampa someday.

  • Ales

    13 years ago

    Those foods look delicious…When you said “I reserved my mouth 100% for the food, not to waste a single breath on conversation.”, I can imagine that you enjoy every piece of food that you put in your mouth. my question is that how much money did you spend for those foods? If the price is worth with the foods, I think I will visit Dampa when I go to Philippines.

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      Hey Ales,
      Yes, I surely enjoy food, it’s a major passion of mine. I think this particular Dampa feast cost in the range of $6 USD each when we divided the bill, it’s quite affordable for the amount and quality of seafood!

  • David Winthorpe

    13 years ago

    I am currently in Thailand but will be flying on to Manila at the start of next week and will certainly give Dampa a try when I get there. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • David Ross

    13 years ago

    I’d love to try some of this, I can’t stand squid but this looks really edible for seafood.

  • Anthony Wilson

    14 years ago

    Seafoods are very rich in Iodine too.’::

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    I think we divided the price between all of us and spent about 300 PHP ($6.55) per person.

  • Bea Dela Cruz

    14 years ago

    How’s the price?

  • Joel bruner

    14 years ago

    You had to unbutton, you obviously were unaware of what was about to happen… Otherwise I know you would have dressed for the occasion. And man WHAT an occasion that sounds like wow……..

  • Ali Pepler

    14 years ago

    I am laughing out loud reading this post! I can see you like munching as much as always… ahh I miss you.

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    @Dave, thanks man, I still enjoy munching as much as I always have. I think I can call that one a Munch Excursion.

    @Kat, Fully agree with you there, nothing is as good as seafood straight from the sea, but in Manila, Dampa is pretty close to perfection. Hope you have some chanced to go in the near future!

  • Kat

    14 years ago

    Had a chance to experience this with friends. Amazing experience really. Though for me nothing beats being out by the sea and literally eating catch fresh from the water, this is a great alternative especially when you live in the city and can’t really get away.

  • Dave

    14 years ago

    Sounds like you had a great food excursion Mark. Glad I could provide you with such experience.