The word ‘Dampa’ has always been synonymous to great meals and celebrations. And if its celebrations over good food that you’re looking for, there’s one ‘seafood paluto‘ brand that we all can trust: Dampa Express. Now nearing their 30th branch, Dampa Express continues to live up to its name as your go-to place for affordable, fast, and convenient seafood a la carte treats even during and despite the pandemic! We promise you. This is one (seafood) diet you’d like to get your hands on (literally)!
Dampa Express: Making Seafood Accessible to People
“Our strength is that we’ve tried to do away with all the inconveniences and complications of most seafood restaurants,” owner Dampa King Simon Lim, Jr, explained. “We’ve dared to go against the trend of posh high-brow exclusivity.
“Our outlets are not fancy restaurants, so people feel welcome and comfortable, but they’re air-conditioned. And, we have an enclosed videoke room for small family gatherings, like birthdays and baptismal celebrations. Customers do not have to spend too much money on live seafood. Nor worry about picking the right shellfish or getting the weight of crabs for your family. Or even to wait a long time for your orders to be cooked.”
All customers need to do is visit one of their going on 30 branches and order from an exciting menu of family-sized seafood sets. Scared to go out or travel? No need to risk catching the flu from wet markets for fresh seafood to cook at home. You can simply dial Dampa Express’ hotline or message them for home deliveries! Dampa Express customers can also order through different food delivery apps, like Foodpanda and Grab. Location is quite varied, with a few soon-to-open ones outside of Metro Manila. Express Seafood if you ask me!
“We want customers to feel comfortable. So, we advise them to make reservations if they plan to dine in on Fridays and Sundays. Because they might not find enough seats if they walk-in.”
Delicious Seafood To Share At Home
Got a big troop waiting to gobble up on some serious seafood? Dampa Express meals are good for groups and families. It’s known as the original house of seafood bilaos. So don’t get shocked about the pricing!
“We have no solo meals and we do not compete with fast food outlets. We aren’t a fancy restaurant. But we’ve intentionally veered away with fast food value meals and rice toppings.”
“What we have are bilao [large women tray] sets that at P1,100 is more than a bargain for 3 to 4 people!” shared the Dampa King. “And you can upsize that to a killer bilao, our top of the line bestseller, except for sauce-based dishes.” And sure enough, one bilao was good for 3-4 to share.
The Famous Alimango sa Bilao
It’s interesting, however, that Dampa Express’s specialty, alimango sa bilao [crabs in large woven trays] was discovered by accident.
“A lawyer friend ordered crabs. And for lack of a better packaging for the crabs, had it delivered in a large woven tray. He took a picture of the generous serving and posted it on social media.” The post generated a lot of likes and bombarded him with inquiries. “So we started using that packaging to represent our brand.” GALING!
Now, that famous alimango sa bilao from Dampa Express gets from 50 to 100 orders on an ordinary day. And up to 200-250 orders on special occasions like Mother’s Day, holidays, and Christmas Season. Sometimes ringing in a total of P300K at its peak! Now that’s CRAB-TASTIC NEW, ain’t it?
“If you’re curious what makes our cooking tick, there’s really no secret to it. We just cook seafood the dampa [cottage] style, plus we don’t stock. What’s delivered today will be out by end of the day. So, everything is as fresh as they can get.”
“The only thing we don’t have readily available are lobsters but these can be pre-ordered,” reveals the Dampa King.
Rising Demand for Seafood Deliveries
In a pressing time such as the pandemic, Dampa Express’ sales has surprisingly grown exponentially. All thanks to the greater demand for deliveries, group service, and wide dish variation. In fact, their shrimp even has eight variations. So.. it turns out that seafood is actually pandemic proof! I constantly crave for it personally!
Dampa Express wasn’t a childhood dream or a dream that took to long on the planning table. In fact, it was just a business enterprise that a Gold’s Gym marketing consultant, who rose up the ranks to vice president, got interested in.
“I only wanted one restaurant for my wife, but fate had a different plan for me,” he remembers thinking along the lines of Gerry’s Grill or JT’s Manukan. They opened their first branch at Xavierville in Quezon City, before moving to a bigger location on Kamias Road, just a few hundred meters away.
Dampa Express Expansion
“When we opened one branch, people really welcomed the idea that soon, everyone wanted a branch near their place—it was totally unexpected!” He nearly closed a deal with a Singapore-based restaurant operator before COVID-19 came.
“The demand keeps on growing so much so that one prospect even offered an exorbitant amount that was really hard to refuse just to buy the name, but I thought it’s too early for that. Another one from Dubai wanted to get the full rights to put up branches in the UAE, which I declined,” narrates the Dampa King.
Now, this phenomenal brainchild of Simon Lim, Jr, and his best friend Ronald Iledan, is going on 30 branches. Of which 10 are provincial franchises and 10 are company-owned.
To date, Dampa Express serves around 2,000 customers daily in all their branches combined. “From the fruit of our labors, we’re able to open a private resort in Pampanga, with a giant crab image as tribute to our success: katas ng alimango [the fruit of selling crabs].”
HTD Favorites: Bestsellers at Dampa Express
Alas, the moment of truth has arrived: EATING TIME. Here are our favorites in Dampa Express.
Honestly, I would gladly gobble up everything on that heavenly feast on our table that day. But I had to carefully strategize and go for Gold: CRABS and SHRIMPS! And I was not disappointed. 2-3 pieces of big crabs cracked in half with lots of aligue. Paired with maybe a dozen pieces of fresh sugpo. And that sauce? The real MVP! The dish was heaping with a savory butter garlic sauce that you can slurp as is. Or pour over your rice to enjoy! SHRIMPLY CRABTASTIC!
“We make the biggest order for crabs in this part of the world. At one time, our orders reached P10.5M worth of crabs!”
Taking second place in the seafood race were the baked oysters and mussels. They were baked in a generous serving of cheese and garlic. Baked perfectly producing a tasty slightly-burnt crust around the shell. Sarap!
I also loved the Halaan (clam) Soup. Also the Dampa King’s personal favorite, btw. It was flavored with heaps of ginger giving it a tastier, heartier flavor. So good that I actually poured over 2 bowls myself!
Other Dampa Express include their seafood Dampansit, Inihaw na Pusit, Tuna Panga, and Crispy Pata. Don’t forget that milky delicious ice cream for dessert!
A Bigger and Better Dampa!
Dampa Express now boasts the biggest number of branches among any Philippine seafood restaurants, making it the biggest seafood chain in the Philippines. So the next time you’re looking for fast and affordable seafood in Metro Manila (or outside of it), go give Dampa Express a Call.
Dampa Express is now accepting franchise and partnership applications nationwide and for overseas as well. For the full menu, reservation, delivery and more information, please call 0917 5311703 or +632 79441036. Or you may also follow them on Instagram @dampaexpress.official or Dampa Express on Facebook. KAMAYAN NA!
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