Finally, our feet brought us to La Trinidad for lunch to try out Dampa Express near the trading post. The aversion for going there is real because of the traffic and parking that is almost impossible to find. This is a fair warning to those who will attempt to sample their fare.
Seafoods are aways interesting and delicious. In this place, the style of cooking is mostly fried and baked and for those who like greasy, cheesy, and rich foods, this should be your kind of foodie trip. This may not be the favored healthy option, but this is best on cheat days.
To begin, this is a place for groups who like the same kind of cuisine or want to try it. The prices are fair for a party of four or more at an average of P500 per head. Some are packaged perfectly for the things that you like to eat together.
We opted for the Celebration on the Go with mixed crab and shrimp in a bilao, halaan soup, and a small bilao of baked scallops, and four cups of rice as the perfect blends. We added a plate of eggplant salad that included fresh cubed tomatoes, fresh onions, and shrimp paste to go with the other flavors of the food we ordered.
The clam soup with small freshwater clams or halaan in local terms is perfectly prepared with lots of ginger and onions. Although one could say that these were tiny, it is the flavor that makes this soup refreshing on cool and windy days. The salt was just right in this soup. There were extra bowls given to us for the shells of these seafood that we were about to enjoy.
The crabs and shrimps can be prepared in several ways according to them, buttered, salted egg, salt and pepper, or steamed. We chose the salted egg crabs of course. This was delicious because you could almost crack the crab shells since these were quickly fried with the egg batter and made crispy outside. They used butter to fry it and there was added flavor to the whole experience of peeling off the shells and cracking them. The crabmeat was fresh because this was still soft and firm, not dry as would previously cooked crabs would be. The batter stuck in the halved crabs’ meat was also wonderful. Those stuck to the shells and feet were not enjoyed fully because the meat was more important than scraping it off the covers. The salted egg batter would be best with the shrimps that were soft shelled.
Salt and pepper shrimps were equally savory and crispy. Shrimp and shell with the peppery bite is something pleasant. There is something about this simple flavor that preserves the natural textures and juices of the meats that are prepared. This is a good choice for this seafood and would also be good with the salted egg batter.
The baked scallops were excellent. I say this as one who likes its extra butter and cheese that it is baked with. The butter keeps them juicy, and the cheese salts them. Each slurp of a mouthful of the elements together is nice and chewy. This is best eaten with some bread or in this case rice. But this would also be good with a cold bottle of beer or spirits.
The boiled eggplant salad with fresh tomatoes and onions is a good tongue cleaner. The shrimp paste that goes with it perks the juicy and crunchy mix. This always blends well with meats and fishes. There are many more types of salads available here.
When you have the time to spend looking for parking and braving the midday traffic to La Trinidad on any day, you must try the cuisine of Dampa Express. Bring the gang or the brood because there is enough food to share in the Boodle Fight packages or the bilaos. There are meat preparations for those who like surf and turf adventures too.