Seafood: It’s More Fun in the Philippines (Part I)

The Filipino palate is a testament to the rich marine life that we enjoy. While it is true that our cuisine is dominated by meat dishes, we do not miss out on what the sea can offer. This marine diversity gives us a grand seafood fiesta from North to South, East to West.





The northernmost province of Batanes is one of the smallest in land area and population. On a clear day, you can see the coastline of Taiwan. In the rainy season, you run the risk of being stranded there for days. It is remote alright but Batanes offers the best seascapes you will ever see in your life! And some of the best crustaceans I ever tasted!

Lobsters are considered a delicacy anywhere. Here in the city, it will cost you an arm and a leg just to eat lobster. But in Batanes, lobsters are sooo cheap and sooo tasty. This must have been my lucky day. These beauties were steamed to perfection, with a splash of garlic lemon butter sauce.

Steamed Lobsters at the Batanes Seaside Lounge; Photo by Michelle Africa

Now, the coconut crab..

That’s a species you don’t hear about everyday. They call it tatus locally. This amazing creature shelled creature feeds on coconut. Its claws are strong enough to crack coconut husks. There is no doubt about its rarity. What makes its meat special is its distinct coconut taste.

My friends, you can only find the coconut crab in Batanes. It is sad to note that it has been declared a threatened species. As a result, you cannot bring coconut crabs out of Batanes. It is actually prohibited by law. But they allow you to enjoy it within Batanes territory. I learned about the restrictions here:

After that first taste, I feel bad contributing to the decrease of the coconut crab population. They are delectable, don’t get me wrong. Still,  I pledge to help preserve them for the future generations to enjoy by not eating them again.

Coconut Crabs (Tatus) at the Pension Ivatan; Photo by Michelle Africa


Living in Manila means all the seafood we eat travel far. Very far. They are not only expensive. They are not as fresh as you get them in the coastal areas.

But we found a place in Marikina City. Here, you can get the cheapest and most succulent grilled squid in the Metro. It is cooked to order, stuffed with tomatoes and onions. Be ready to wait a while for this. But do not despair. I haven’t revealed the biggest secret… You get them for PhP 50 a piece. Yes a little more than a dollar each.

Grilled Stuff Squid at Felizaro Grill; Photo by Michelle Africa

Impressed already? I’m not even halfway through it. That is just Luzon.


Now, we jet down to the island of Bohol in the Visayas. On our island tour in Panglao, we stopped by a vanishing sandbar called Virgin Island. We timed our stop perfectly, as it was low tide. The sandbar beams its white sand against the glare of the sun. Now, what do you do in a sandbar? Enjoy the sun, walk barefoot in the sand, take a dip in the crystal blue waters.

Peace and quiet was quickly interrupted by the vendors who appeared out of nowhere.  We were curious to peek into the basket of goodies. What do you know? Freshly harvest uni or sea urchin. Shucked right before your eyes, served with a spurt of local vinegar. Can’t get any fresher than that.

And what is the best part? It costs PhP 20 each. Uh-huh, 50 cents.

Today’s catch of Sea Urchin with a bottle of Spiced Vinegar; Photo by Michelle Africa
Our sushi chef of the moment; Photo by Michelle Africa

Did I convince you yet, that seafood is truly more fun in the Philippines? If not, then read Part 2 of this series: Seafood: It’s More Fun in the Philippines Part 2. Here, I will feature the coastal treasures of Mindanao, which to me, is hands down, the food basket of this archipelago.

P.S. This article is featured in

Batanes Seaside Lodge and Restaurant
National Road, Kaynacharianan, Basco, Batanes
Pension Ivatan Hometel and Restaurant
Basco, Basco, Batanes
Felizaro Grill
8 Ephesians Street, Friendly Village, Concepcion Uno, Marikina City

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