In some parts of the U.S, it’s not uncommon for families to gather together during warm-weather months and have what is known as a seafood boil. Shrimp, crabs, mussels and all sorts of delicious sea creatures are tossed in a pot and boiled to sweet, juicy perfection. The seafood is either served in a plastic bag or spread on newspapers where they are feasted upon by bare hands and satisfied smiles. This is not an entirely novel idea here in the Philippines. There are establishments that serve seafood in the exact same manner but there aren’t a lot of them. Seafood lovers like myself will be pleased to know that another establishment has been added to this short list.
Seafood Shack, located in another up and coming food hub in Quezon City simply known as the F7 building, just opened last December. The restaurant gives off a strong beach vibe with its nautical décor. Since summer is just around the corner, it’s worth mentioning that it’s the perfect place for beach-themed parties.
Seafood Shack’s menu is pretty straightforward, chef and owner Martin Kabigting wanted it to be that way. The menu is All-American and 90% seafood. This no frills approach is pretty much what boiled seafood bags are all about. Boiled Shacks are a must-try in this establishment. Seafood Shack simplifies the ordering process by giving customers a step-by-step guide on how to create a seafood boil.
The first step: Choose your catch! Shrimps (P580-P1,410), Mussels (P230-P595), Clams (P370-P980), and Crabs (P1,260-P2,210) are your options. If you can’t decide on just one, go for the Shack’s Catch (P1,750) which combines all four. The small serving size is approximately 700g, medium is 1,400g and large is 2,800g.
The second step: What’s your flavor? This is where you pick the sauce that goes in the bag with the seafood. The choices are Lemony Peppery, Soy Garlic, Southern Cajun, and again if you can’t decide there’s the Shack Daddy that combines all the sauces.
Step 3: How spicy can you go? You can go from Non Spicy to EXTRA HOT!!! The all caps and all the exclamation points intimidated me so I opted for Mild when I was there.
Step 4: Choose your add-on (P70/add on). Traditional seafood boils typically include potatoes, corn, and sausage. At Seafood Shack you have the option not to have any add-ons in your seafood boil but I suggest that you add them all because it adds flavor to the seafood.
My lunch companion and I had two small Boiled Shacks: Shrimps in Shack Daddy sauce and Mussels in Lemony Peppery sauce, both complete with add-ons. The seafood was cooked just right. I loved the Shack Daddy sauce more than the Lemony Peppery one because it had more flavor and went really well with the shrimp. A small serving of the Boiled Shack could easily feed 4 people. Feel free to ditch your utensils and use your hands, they actually encourage it. Don’t forget to put on your bib because some seafood splattering will ensue, I assure you.
While you’re there, do yourself a favor and order the cheesy, buttery, garlicky goodness that is the Baked Clams with Cheese (P370). It is served with some garlic bread that is excellent for mopping up the glorious clam juice plus butter plus cheese plus garlic concoction that has accumulated at the bottom of the plate.
Don’t pass up the chance to try their sides, the best of which is the Grilled Corn and Cheese on a cob (P80). If you ask nicely, the superb wait staff will shred the corn for you for easier eating. The corn has a nice smoky flavor from the grill which is complemented by the creamy cheese that sits on top.
If you’re an unfortunate soul who’s allergic to seafood, do not worry. 10% of the menu is, after all, there for you. Take the Cajun Wings with Ranch Dressing (P250), for example. Lightly breaded, slightly spicy, flavorful chicken wings that come with a deliciously tangy ranch dressing that I wanted to drink with a straw.
Seafood Shack serves simple, good food. Aside from the wonderful seafood, a big part of the experience is eating with your hands while you engage in a hearty conversation with your dining companions. Seafood Shack serves the kind of food that requires time to eat not because it’s complicated, but because it’s simply meant to be enjoyed.
Photos by Albert Peradilla.