Marina Restaurant is a seafood restaurant in Iloilo that has branched out to Manila.
It has quite a number of restaurants in the city but the one in Paseo de Magallanes is a little more casual, a bit cramped, noisy with tables of diners enjoying their meals or their beers.
It's definitely not where you would go for ambience or a quiet dinner date.
However, Marina does serve very good Ilonggo food and if you go at the right time, you might be lucky enough to find some seasonal Visayan delicacies.
Diwal or angel wings clams are native to the waters surrounding the Negros provinces and this delicate but very delectable seashell is in season only from May till October. When the waitress at Marina said that diwal was available the evening we dined there, I didn't hesitate to put in an order.
We ordered diwal soup, lightly seasoned with just some ginger, onions and tomatoes in an almost clear broth. It was heavenly! But then, they aren't called angel wings for nothing.
Aside from diwal, we also ordered a plate of baked scallops -- they were in season too and were plump and fresh. Perfectly baked with butter and garlic -- I poured the melted butter and drippings over rice for a decadent and deadly mouthful.
We ordered grilled bulgan but if you ask for a good sized fish, Marina's will suggest that you have it cooked two ways -- grilled for the body, and a batuan soured sinigang for the fish head.
Small suahe, dredged over a spicy batter and deep fried are crunchy and totally addictive, specially with the blistering sinamak, the Ilonggo version of vinegar with chilies.
With such fresh and scrumptious seafoods, it's only fitting that at Marina, you can eat all the rice you want!
A waiter goes around with a wooden bucket of hot rice refilling everyone's plates.
Seconds or thirds, anyone?