Stonefish, pompano, blue crabs, prawns, lobsters and so much more fresh seafood at Isla Sugbo Seafood City
For a good few seconds, I was fixated at the lone stonefish swimming in one of the aquariums at Isla Sugbu Seafood City. It was the first live specimen that I’ve seen in my life.
I remember that during a trip to Camiguin de Babuyanes many summers ago, one of our boatmen accidentally stepped on such ugly-looking creature, the spines of which are said to contain some form of neurotoxin. His rather calm face betrayed whatever excruciating pain he must have felt that time. But that my friends will be reserved for another story someday.
Edwin (www.lakbaydiva.com) would later tell me that despite its dangerous reputation, thegatasan, as the locals would call it, is suprisingly delicious. Needless to say, they are hard to catch and even harder to keep alive. They are perhaps Seafood City’s one way of saying to those who have missed the beloved restaurant for more than a decade, that they are now open again for business.
This time around, they have a restaurant space that is wide and comfortable enough to seat 300 persons. They have a bigger array of fresh and live seafood as well.
The restaurant is now located at the recently renovated Grand Convention along Archbishop Reyes Avenue.
During a media launch a few weeks back, Mr. Winglip Chang, who oversees Seafood City, recalled the different challenges in sourcing live and fresh seafood even in this part of the Philippines. Some of these had to be sourced from nearby islands – Zamboanga, Negros, Leyte and as far as mainland Luzon.
He is saying in a way to their guests that ‘they leave the logistics nightmare with them.’ All they have to do is pick from the fresh produce on display and specify at the counter, how they want their fish cooked. The eager waitstaffs could also suggest some recommendations. A very minimal cooking fee is then charged.
While the quality of the seafood options is impressive at Seafood City, the restaurant also takes pride with the dishes that they have been known for. Attendees that lunch time were treated with a few highlights of the restaurant’s repertoire.
We had padpad (sole fish), lightly fried in garlic butter, a sauce that’s expected if not the most requisite, in any seafood spread. You’d be surprise as to how they treated the flat fish, as its flesh was still juicy underneath the crispy exterior.
The blue crab was deep-fried and dabbed with salt & pepper. Putting a bit more heat might have added another layer but in retrospect, it might have drowned the freshness of the lambay.
With the lemon butter sauce highlighting their flavor, the prawns were properly cooked and succulent.
The grilled squid on the other hand, was drenched in a rich curry sauce infused with coconut milk. It was spicy and creamy, almost an assault of a good kind, on the senses.
Delicate to the point of being bland, the pompano wonderfully contrasted the spiciness of the previous plates. With the taosi sauce bringing out the fish’s subtle flavors, the resulting dish was an interesting study of restraint in execution and in taste. So if there’s one dish that I’d recommend you try, it has to be this.
But if I should find myself again at Seafood City, I’ll probably have the gatasan. I want to see how it is prepared and then cooked, probably to avenge our boatman or just to satisfy yet another culinary curiosity of mine.
Until then, I am glad that Isla Sugbu Seafood is now back. It is definitely a welcome addition, a much need one at that, to the growing restaurant scene in Cebu City.
GF, Grand Convention Center of Cebu
Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City
+63 32 2608000Monday-Sunday | 11:00am – 2:00pm; 6:00 – 10:00pm
Cash or Credit Card (Visa/Mastercard) | WiFi