A quick but energizing trip to Davao
Subscribe Now October 30, 2010 at 08:32am
I had been hankering for fresh durian for some time now and the standing invitation to check out the newly-renovated Cantonese restaurant at the Marco Polo Davao (63 822-210-8888) were two more reasons not to pass up on the weekend trip. Although the morning flight on Cebu Pacific only took a little over 90 minutes, there was still the difficult task of waking up at dawn, getting to the airport on time and waiting to board the plane. So the moment I was inside my spacious and well-appointed Cabana Terrace room at the Marco Polo, it took all my will to not just sink into the bed and fall into a deep sleep.
But wait -- I was in Davao and there were things to do, sarongs to buy and durian to eat.
Whenever I find myself in this sprawling city -- the second largest in the world in terms of land area -- I always make it a point to visit the Aldevinco Shopping Center on C.M. Recto Ave. to check out the selection of their very useful sarongs. These rectangular pieces of usually tie-dyed cotton cloth can be used as a cover-up at the beach, as a shawl when it gets chilly or as a colorful throw on one’s bed.
Dinner that evening was at Marco Polo’s Lotus Court that has changed so much since my last visit several years ago. I found the venue at the time a bit cramped as the tables and chairs were situated too close to one another.
After a four-month renovation period, it reopened in August with a smaller dining room capacity. Now, the dramatically lit dining area seats 80 compared to 200 prior to the renovation.
With its high ceiling, elegant pendant lamps and an elevated "stage," the new dining area is at once formal and familiar. Several families were tucking into their dinners that night and there was a low murmur throughout the room that gave the impression that they were enjoying every mouthful.
The owners decided to scale down the dining area by taking over part of the hotel’s terrace. The original space was then converted into three function rooms collectively known as the Jade Ballroom.
The excellent Cantonese food Davaoeños have come to expect, however, is still there. That evening, we sampled several of their special-ties including their Barbecue combination plate; Four seas dragon soup that contained dried scallops, abalone, shark’s fin and dried mushrooms; and Sizzling Cantonese fillet of beef.
The two dishes my dining companion and I couldn’t seem to get enough of, however, were the deceptively simple Prawn and scallops with broccoli and Yin Yang Garoupa, the latter a new addition when the restaurant reopened. I enjoyed both dishes because of the obvious freshness of the ingredients including the dark green broccoli, the fat pink prawns and the uniformly cubed and fried garoupa.
Much later that evening, we hopped on a cab and headed to the durian park on Magsaysay Ave. that’s not really a park but more of a row of stalls selling durian and other fresh fruit like pomelos and mangosteen.
I’ll be brief: I ate an entire durian. It was colored a delicious light yellow, and it was creamy and smoky at the same time. Needless to say, I slept like a babe that night.
After my cousin’s wedding the next day, I had a massage treatment at the hotel’s Lazuli Spa. The two-storey structure looks normal in the daytime but at night, its lights are reflected by the pool and the effect is mesmerizing.
Inside, it’s all recessed shelves and lighting with tiny nooks and alcove seating.
Their signature treatment, A Touch of Lapiz, is described as a combination of Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi, where the therapist uses her oiled elbows and forearms, and Thai massage, which is basically good old stretching.
By the time I boarded my return flight to Manila at noon on Sunday, I was recharged and ready to face another week of deadlines and more deadlines.
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