My sister Tessie and her two kids Joseph and Joren are migrating back to Bohol. I am happy that they are going back to our hometown – at least one of us will now be based there. We will surely miss them, but Bohol is just an overnight boat trip away. We can always visit each other.
For our despedida, we were looking for a place that is both intimate and exciting at the same time. We wanted it to be a simple dinner, with plenty of photo-ops.
So, we went to Panagatan, in Opol.
Contrary to some reports, Panagatan is NOT a seaside restaurant; it is a seaboard restaurant. It is dining with sea water underneath, not beside you. While waiting for your food (not a fast food here, which is great!), you can stroll at the boardwalk nearby. The sea smells fresh and appetizing itself, because the Opol marine life is well protected by the local government. Panagatan looks clean, looks fresh, and smells good!
There is nothing special in Panagatan. Everything in the menu is a common item found in almost all seafood restaurants in the Philippines. But the lack of specialty is compensated by the simplicity and deliciousness of the food. We ordered a “seafood bilao” which is a combination of grilled squid, grilled fish of various species, and fried shrimp. On the side, we got kinilaw – raw fresh tuna which my niece Jezza grabbed being a certified kinilaw addict. For the meat-loving kids, we ordered fried chicken. I can cook better-tasting dishes from all these ingredients, but Panagatan provides such a refreshing ambiance, it seems the food is but a side attraction.
There are three things I like about Panagatan: it is so eco-friendly; it is cheap; and it is clean. Panagatan is so cheap you feel embarassed. With all the food we ordered plus drinks, we only paid 2,000 and loose change. And there were eleven of us. Twelve, if you double the count for 6-year old Jonathan whose appetite is equivalent to a contruction worker.