Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Alavar Seafood Restaurant of Zamboanga: Everyone Went Gaga Over the Curacha

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The spanner crab or more popularly known in Zamboanga city as the Curacha is like a gigantic brilliant-red orange cockroach with pincers and fringed with hair at its sides. The name curacha is so close to the chavacano word cucuracha which literally means cockroach, thus the name.

It may be a weird looking monster-like crustacean but many are longing to dine on these Indo-Australian crabs once they are cooked, minimally either steamed or boiled, because it is best experienced in its natural exotic flavor, so as to preserve its original taste.

You should add sauce toppings made with a combination of gata (coconut milk), ginger, chili and other aromatics to enhance the flavor. But the well-loved special sauce from the Alavar Seafood Restaurant seems to be the most highly recommended in the city.

Contrary to what others are saying, these sea creatures can also be found in other waters aside from just Zamboanga. It just so happens that Zamboanga was the one that made it popular as the iconic must-try native delicacy when you go visit Asia's Latin City.

Their meat is similar to that of the blue or mud crabs, but they don’t seem to yield as much meat for the overall weight of the crab, and definitely a little harder to get to. I guess the only edible portion of the curacha is just one fourth, or even less, the total weight of the sea creature.

But all the that hardship and unthinkable waste of hard-earned money seems nothing once you have eaten it with Alavar's special sauce. To exaggerate, you might even forget your name after the experience.

However, it is indeed pricey, as in it's a bit expensive for budget-conscious peeps, who might settle for just crabs comparing the cost you will incur. The price even varies depending on the season, availability and quality of catch. But if it was a sponsored meal, then go dig in all you want for you'll be willing to die on the spot just to indulge on the mouth-watering exotic dish.

Alavar Seafood Restaurant, located at173 Don Alfaro Street, is one of the fanciest and most decent, and of course pricey, restaurant in the Zamboanga peninsula.

Well, they have great reasons why they are the leading restaurant in Zamboanga because you'll be really impressed with the surroundings and ambiance of the restaurant. Compared to all the otehr restaurants that we've visited in Zamboanga, this was by so far the grandest one there is.

From the cute signage shaped like a fish telling its a seafood house, to the facade having capiz windows reminiscent of the olden days, to their mini bird zoo composed of different kinds of winged creatures, the restaurant is a vision of elegance.

The architectural design of the restaurant is modern yet depicting the good old days of our ancestors.

Our visit was during the Dia De Zamboanga festivities so that is why the restaurant has the poster displayed in front. Though we didn't passed through those door and went towards the left side of the entrance.

From the table setup, you could already see that it's a level above the rest that we've been. Though it was only our third day in the city, I've already heard great things about the restaurant.

They have these location great for photo ops, like a wooden bridge beside a waterfall stream amidst some plants and a few trees of the palmera family.

Just like outside the restaurant, they have a wooden bench with wagon wheels at its sides decorating the area where they have several caged birds.

Now this bird zoo may not sell among the birdwatchers from the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, including the foreign delegates who joined the birdwatching activities because they prefer birds to be in the wild.

But I think the birds here are well taken cared off. There's quite a number of them in about less than 10 big cages surrounding one side of the restaurant.

I couldn't tell which is which because I have no idea what they are in the first place, but all I could say are they are all beautiful winged creatures adding elegance to the ambiance of the restaurant.

This particular cage had more than just of type of bird living inside. No racist slurs abound... hehehe

What a cute chandelier hanging above us where white lengthy cloths also hang. It's just like in a wedding ceremony. Damn! It must be hard to wash all of those after it gets all soiled and dusty.

Aside from the curacha we also ordered other special dishes from the restaurant.

The restaurant served us riped carabao mangoes with bagoong. If you've been reading my previous posts about the restaurant of Zamboanga, you'll noticed that most of them always have mangoes and bagoong for either starters or side dish. But what makes this one at Alavar different is that its called mango con bagon gata because the bagoong is blended with coconut milk.

We actually ordered another serving of this because we really loved it.

The crab soup was phenomenal. I must have had two bowls of this crab and egg-laden soup.

I finally had the opportunity to try the Zamboanga white - the signature ice shake drink made from lychee. Membser of my group ordered other favorites like the kamias shake, the calamansi juice and others.

Now dish dish resembles that of the Seafood Paella but they call it in another name. It's like a smaller version with all the seafood like shrimps, crabs, tahong, clams, etc., on top of golden orange colored rice with sprinkles of raisins.

This is similar to grilled baby back ribs that's garnished with some seaweed, and slices of cucumber and tomatoes

The Ginataang Shrimp would have my vote for the second yummiest dish at Alavar Seafood Restaurant. The sauce is thick, sweet and tasty that you could eat a lot of rice from the sauce alone which is probably the same recipe as the Alavar sauce.

They also have their own version of a Seafood Platter but this one is at the top of the category. Aside from the crab, it has clams, squid, tuna, and shrimps plus a few mangoes and seaweed with bagoong and in the middle is one order of rice, not that it's intended for just one person, but could be shared as well.

Of course, their signature main dish cooked only Alavar can. The curacha is the most searched meal by all the tourists that visit Zamboanga. They say your trip to Asia's Latin City is incomplete if you will not visit Alavar and enjoy its curacha dish.

There has been so many articles written about the curacha so i guess I do not need to convince you any further. It may cost a bit more than the other dishes, but it's the experience and bragging rights that you are actually paying for. Hehehe.

Overall, I would gladly pay more for the curacha as it is one of the best that I've tasted so far.
It brought out of us a monster appetite fitting for these monster-like creatures of the Zamboanga seas.

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