Being a TV-soaked kid in the 80’s, the first thing that came to mind when I heard that the Lakbay Norte gang’s gonna have lunch at Matutina’s was of us eating at a long table filled with all sorts of sumptuous seafood dishes with Matutina of the 80’s John & Marsha TV show character doing the serving.
But when in you’re in Pangasinan, ask any of the locals and the same imagery would probably be conjured, sans the squeaky-voiced Matutina character in the background of course. Matutina’s Seafood is a household name in the said province; it equates to good dishes from the sea much like Dampa is for the Manileños.
An hour has not passed since I devoured a whole arm-length grilled bangus after the Dawel River Cruise in Dagupan City and here we were again, noisily piling in at the Matutina’s Seafood restaurant branch in Urdaneta City for another round of foodfest.
It was noontime and the place was packed. The décor was very Filipino; bamboo wall panels, traditional capiz sliding windows, karitela wheel spokes and rattan woven metal chairs on warm wooden tables; outside, thick wooden chairs and tables lay around the covered garden.
Matutina’s Seafood restaurant started out as a sidewalk turo-turo stall in Tondaligan beach providing simple dishes to local beachgoers. It has since grown into two full-pledged restaurants in Dagupan City, one in Baguio City and another in Urdaneta City.
Now to the food! There were no starters, we were immediately barraged with all sorts of dishes; standard fare pork barbeques, platefuls of Ilocano-favorite Pinakbet, crispy nilasing na hipon with kropek and of course, the world famous grilled Dagupan bangus.
My favorite was the nilasing na hipon with kropek; I love how crunchy and flavorful the shrimps were. The whole thing, heads and tails included, is dipped in special vinegar, much like a chicharon. The leche flan dessert was also excellent, perhaps not as good as the ones my grandma used to make, but good enough.
Matutina’s Seafood’s claim to fame might be of former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo’s proclaiming it is one of her favorite restaurants, but really, no such praises is needed for Matutina’s; their food speaks well enough for themselves.
Nancayasan Highway, Brgy. Tulong
Urdaneta City, Pangasinan
Telephone: (075) 531-1814
Dagupan City, Pangasinan
Telephone: (075) 614-3162 | (0917) 642-1466
19A Legarda Road, Baguio City
Telephone: (074) 446-9009