I’ve had a couple of local friends tell me about Fish 153 here in Dumaguete for a while now, but never made it in there. I mean, I pass by it all the time since it’s on a side street where I buy my newspaper and get coffee sometimes, but Fish 153 just doesn’t look that inviting. To be honest, it’s just a little bit of a run-down, simple blue clapboard building in need of a paint job and a makeover. Furthermore, the setup is a little bit confusing since there is a big, prominent sign for Super H Mart (with the Honda symbol!) that claims to be a “Filipino and Korean Grocery.” The signage for Fish 153 in the window is actually mostly covered up by pictures of dishes.
Eating at Fish 153
Despite that shoddy presentation, I did finally go in there last night – and was pleasantly surprised once the meal came. But before I get to the food, the ambiance inside matched the run-down confusion motif outside. When I first walked in I did see the grocery store part, with shelves stacked high with big bulk packages of Korean made packages. Right in the store – or on one whole side of the building – sits the restaurant part, but it still looks disorganized and half hazard. I sat down, and the indifferent waitress came over and gave me a menu, but she was obviously in too much of a rush to say hello or explain anything on the menu.
That’s ok because the vibe of Fish 153 is like a basic feeding station for college students in someone’s living room haha. I ordered a Filipino beer to start, and was pleased to find out that it was nice and cold (something you don’t always find). The menu was in English and Korean, but not being very well versed in Korean food, I really didn’t understand the dishes. Luckily, there were big, clear photos on the menu with each of the dishes so I could order no problem.
I’m a big fan of squid, so I went with a squid dish with rice (the name escapes me) after consulting with the waitress which squid dishes were good, and also something I saw that looked like big sushi rolls that came to someone else’s table.
Related Reading: The Karma Cafe review
To my delight, I didn’t have to wait long for food – even if it was food I hadn’t ordered. The waitress brought out about 10 different small saucers with various dishes, as is the Korean tradition. It’s an awesome huge snack before the meal comes, and I chowed down on some sort of pickled eggs, Korean Kimchi (that one I know) and a bunch more rice, veggie, and a few unidentifiable dishes.
But when the meal came (it didn’t take long), I finally knew what the buzz about Fish 153 was about. The squid was delicious, sizzling hot, surprisingly spicy without being “hot” and the serving size was huge. The veggie sushi rolls were also about twice the size of normal sushi rolls and fresh and delicious. In all, for two beers and all of this food, I only paid about $6 USD, and it was so much food that I had to take half of it home to eat today!
A great experience at Fish 153 and I’m so glad I found my way in so I can come back and chow down with friends again.