You go to Davao for durian, but then sometimes you don’t.
For those of us (yes, us) who do not quite delight in the fruit, Davao has a surprisingly pleasant gastronomic diversion: all-you-can-eat everything. Even more, this city seems to put much thought to crabs, and unlike their counterparts elsewhere, these shelled orange delights come in relatively affordable prices.
Thanks to some online research and a local travel magazine, we were led to what was supposed to be one of Davao’s all-you-can-eat-crab haunts: Glamour Restaurant ‘n Caterer. Do not let the name fool you into thinking, though, that it is anywhere near Sofitel’s Spiral. Glamour, if I may be quite frank, does not have the trappings of a five-star hotel’s dinner buffet, contrary to its name. It’s roughly the size of a studio apartment and holds around 30 people at a time (thus, you have to reserve your seats beforehand). Painted in light shades of orange and green, it’s far from posh. It’s airconditioned, and the downside to this is the whole place smells of crab. Now, we all love crab meat and fat and all that, but we don’t want to be smelling crab now, do we?
Crabs bigger than my already big hands, yes they are.
A dinner buffet at Glamour (they open at 6 PM) will set you back Php 390 (around $9) per person. Aside from the all-you-can-eat (before-you-die-of-cholesterol) crabs, Glamour gives two to three other main viands—in our case, roast chicken and another beef dish I cannot remember—along with all-you-can-eat rice. They also have a variety of sweet treats for dessert (maja blanca, biko, brownies, etc) as well as fresh fruits and salad. You have to pay for your drinks though. The other dishes, including the desserts, were not particularly magical.
But the crabs more than made up for it. Cooked with gata and swimming in aligue, these steaming hot crustaceans are served dozens at a time. Personally, I like crabs just steamed, but Glamour’s rich-tasting recipe is a welcome change to an already-well-loved dish. The crabs were humongous; the amount of crab meat in a single serving can actually rival your average chicken leg.
Good things, however, have their ways of stripping you of energy, patience, and giving you all possible forms of physical torment even before you can enjoy them. In our case, this included an hour spent walking under the 12-noon heat but not finding the restaurant (and thus ending up eating in another restaurant, which was not so much a compromise because of the excellent food, but more on that later). Having resolved to get our plane tickets’ worth, we went for a second run in the afternoon after a quick trip to Samal Island [See: Two hours in Samal] and swore we would have nothing but crabs for dinner. But this resulted in yet another round of getting lost (and testy tempers in between) and getting soaked in the rain.
Turns out, if we had found it earlier at lunchtime, we would have been thoroughly disappointed, for the restaurant opens at 6 PM.
Testimonials of satisfied customers occupy half a wall inside the buffet restaurant.
We looked like we were gatecrashing a family party. The place, at least for that day, had balloons and other hanging trinkets that would give Ronald McDonald a run for his money. Just above the buffet table hung a tarpaulin greeting us a Happy Kadayawan (which explains the enthusiastic decor, I guess). On one side rests a huge tarpaulin where apparently satisfied diners have placed their generous comments on the restaurant. But as I had said, the crabs did not disappoint–and nothing else really mattered, at least to our needy stomachs.~
WITHOUT GETTING LOST
Have yourself dropped off at Sampaguita Inn 2 along Camus St. From there, Glamour is just 30 steps away. Note: There are 2 Sampaguita Inns along Camus. Sampaguita Inn 2 is the newer building, and that’s the one nearer Glamour (because it was Kadayawan and the traffic route was different, we decided to take a cab for easier navigation).
Glamour is just one of the many–and I mean many–buffet restaurants in Davao City. We also ate at Kuya Ed’s just in front of the hotel we were staying. I was, however, unimpressed with the food, and there was just too many people when we went there (which was a Sunday). We had to wait for
10 15 minutes to get a cramped space to eat. But at a surprising P135 each, I really would not have expected anything more. If you don’t like 1) crowds 2)crowds and 3)crowds, then you’re better off elsewhere with much better food. Trust me, Davao has lots more (and better) to offer. And for that, you can consult this list.
But Davao is more than just that. One of the more popular attractions in this big city is its annual festival, Kadayawan.