02 May2010

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Our recent visit to the town of Coron, on Busuanga Island, Palawan was MM’s third in the past 3 years. It would also be the third time we would stay at the Coron Village Lodge, an unpretentious converted home that now has several dozen rooms on two sides of the same street. These are not the fanciest accommodations in town, but we like them for the homey feel and great value. Some really high-end hotels have opened their doors with snazzy rooms, glass bathroom walls that allow you to see who is bathing in the tub(?!), and other amenities, but we have a bias for the first place we stayed in a few years ago, totally by chance. And one of the best perks of it being our “home away from home” in Coron is that they allow Marketman into the kitchen to cook dishes or we can ask the head cook, Henry, to cook something we picked up at the market earlier in the day. Since food is such a major part of our trips near and far, these kitchen “privileges” are a major thing!

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At say PHP1,200+ per room for say 2-3 people, don’t expect starred digs. On our last visit, we were a party of 7 staying in three rooms. I noticed how much noisier the main road out front had become, and the hotel was also packed, so it had lost some of its charm and languid pace. But I guess that is the price of “success” and the owner Bec Fernandez explained that they had been getting more and more visitors to Coron, and many had in fact found their hotel on previous posts on marketmanila.com. If you adjust your expectations to the roughly PHP500 per person/night tab, you can still have a wonderful stay at the Village Lodge.

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On previous visits, owners and staff had no idea that I maintained a blog, and it was only after our second visit that they figured out which party of guests must have been connected with marketmanila.com. So on this visit, I have to say, they laid out the proverbial red carpet. Mrs. Fernandez extended her own trip to Coron so that we could overlap by a day, and she left instructions with kitchen staff to allow us some kitchen access. They also arranged to ply us with some wonderful seafood. We accepted a platter of slipper lobsters, fish and crabs sent our way by the cooks, and no matter how much we tried to pay for them, they refused. So this is one rare occasion that I must say we accepted freebies… Even generous tips we tried to leave as we departed were refused. So a huge thank you to Mrs. Fernandez and her crew. We don’t normally take freebies, but I guess you could say we had little choice in this case… :)

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Henry, the guy in the photo up top, has cooked for us on all three visits to Coron. He and his kitchen crew do the classics like sinigang, grilled seafood, fried fish, bulalo, etc. competently. The seafood is always fresh and with the market just minutes away, it’s likely everything you are eating is recently purchased. At one lunch, he sent out some simply steamed slipper lobsters that came with a butter sauce. These were delicious, almost as succulent as a rock lobster.

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Notice all the orange coral that some folks consider a major prize… While many like to pair this with butter, I also love to pair this with vinegar or something acidic…

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At the same lunch, the kitchen fried up one of several fresh talakitoks we purchased at the market that morning. Freshly fried fish just seasoned with salt and pepper and dipped into a chili-vinegar-soy dip is close to food perfection…

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Fresh lato we purchased at the market was turned into a salad with some onions, tomatoes and a light vinaigrette.

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Steamed crabs with claws cracked also arrived at our dinner table one evening and we enjoyed these together with our small rock lobsters we purchased at the local market, both dipped into a lemon butter sauce.

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And finally, we enjoyed several types of sinigang while on our 3 day stay in Coron. This bowl made from sour batuan fruit, that I was quite surprised to find in the vegetable section of the local market, and I paired the batuan broth with small talakitoks or jacks. Throw in lots of rice, a rare piece of meat or chicken, and you get the jist of our eating habits while on a Coron holiday. Again, many thanks to Mrs. Fernandez, Henry and the hotel crew for a very nice stay at The Village Lodge. Salamat!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. GayeN says:

    I was one of those “visitors” who stayed at Coron Village Lodge mainly because I read about your review when I was tasked to find our accommodation when we visited Coron last year. So, thanks to you MM!!! We didn’t have any problems with them, they are very warm and hospitable especially Mrs. Fernandez and our guide Dennis who was very patient with our party of 15 pax. I would stay with them should I visit Coron again. =)

    May 2, 2010 | 6:44 pm

     
  2. Gay says:

    I have to make Coron trip a reality this year! Thanks for sharing your vacation with us, MM. The food trip is a must.

    May 2, 2010 | 7:33 pm

     
  3. chinky says:

    Coron is next on our list of places to visit. Will look them up!

    May 2, 2010 | 7:58 pm

     
  4. Footloose says:

    Any cook who feeds me per above would earn my undying gratitude too.

    May 2, 2010 | 8:43 pm

     
  5. Tonito says:

    A very refreshing post, MM. SALAMAT…one word tops it all!

    May 2, 2010 | 9:10 pm

     
  6. atbnorge says:

    Lovely! Just lovely!…Such courtesy is priceless!

    May 2, 2010 | 11:16 pm

     
  7. Eden says:

    MM, is the price of food/meals included in your quoted price? Seems to be such a deal! I have to make a point to go to Coron on my next visit.

    May 2, 2010 | 11:52 pm

     
  8. aly says:

    hmmm….mmmm…i’m salivating.yummy sea foods.

    May 3, 2010 | 2:13 am

     
  9. Vanessa says:

    Such hospitality! I have to say it’s the lato that does it for me. I miss lato so very much!

    May 3, 2010 | 3:49 am

     
  10. Marketman says:

    Eden, the hotel does offer all in packages, with set meals included, but we only book our rooms, and pay for meals separately. And if we ask them to cook something we purchased, there is a reasonable cooking fee charged, which I think is very fair. In fact, most hotels would not be pleased if asked to cook something a guest brought back from the markets…

    May 3, 2010 | 7:14 am

     
  11. Betchay says:

    Love the fresh seafoods!Wish I can go visit Coron soon!

    May 3, 2010 | 8:04 am

     
  12. kakusina says:

    I’ve never eaten them but the slipper lobsters look yummy, especially the roe (?) Wouldn’t pair them with butter which I think overwhelms the freshness of seafood. Some good vinegar with sea salt and chili are all they need.

    May 3, 2010 | 8:36 am

     
  13. quiapo says:

    Those slipper crabs are common in Australia, known as “Balmain Bugs” locally.
    Hat’s off to you MM for giving credit to the staff. Deserving staff often do not get recognition for doing their jobs well, we sometimes take so much for granted and a little recoginition contributes so much to personal happiness.

    May 3, 2010 | 9:29 am

     
  14. Dorothy says:

    Kalami!

    May 3, 2010 | 10:14 am

     
  15. Vicky Go says:

    The fresh bounty from the sea looks so yummy! I love tomaley in lobsters & crabs. I usually trade my lobster tail for somebody else’s lobster head when we have lobsters for a meal! I think there are places that used to sell just heads (because they ship out the tails) for 50 cents a piece. Not anymore, since everyone wised up & started using the heads to make the sauce for the tails! Too bad! Same w fish heads – before you could have them for a song, gratis sometimes! All in the past, same thing – used for fish stock.

    Wonder if Sister knows if “lato” is available stateside side around the NYC area or if there’s a good source that will ship fast?

    May 3, 2010 | 9:44 pm

     
  16. netoy says:

    ay MM, you make me drool with these pictures. i have never heard of coron until this blog and believe you me, i will be visiting that place the next time i go home (cross my fingers, next year!).

    thanks for all the info. will surely check this place out… it really looks like a home away from home..

    May 4, 2010 | 5:13 am

     
  17. Grace says:

    for me they still have the cheapest, cleanest rooms when visiting coron. yes, a lot of hotels have sprung up but coron village lodge is still the homiest. when we stayed there, we can never get enough of their beef salpicao. :)

    May 4, 2010 | 7:44 am

     
  18. tamale8888 says:

    Wow, yummy! Next time I visit Coron, I’ll try staying in town so I can try these!

    Thanks for sharing, MM. Tulo-laway ako!

    Cheers!

    May 4, 2010 | 3:01 pm

     
  19. KUMAGCOW says:

    Ahmm.. I kinda find that lobster creepy but looking at it halved, that meat inside looks good and scrumptious…. I better think about going there soon and try it out myself =)

    May 5, 2010 | 1:54 am

     
  20. prinsesa says:

    Coron is a lovely place. The people are very hospitable and you won’t feel like you do not belong! Seafood is dirt cheap yet very VERY fresh.

    I, too, stayed in Coron Village Lodge. How come you did not have their mind blowing Bulalo????? That is a sin!

    May 5, 2010 | 11:47 pm

     
  21. Brian Asis says:

    The people at Palawan are very hospitable. I consider it to be my home away from home :D

    May 7, 2010 | 5:28 pm

     
  22. Tina Bonoan says:

    I was there in Jan 2008 with my aunt and her friends. Maam Becki is such a great host. Thank you po.. Every dish on the menu was a “wow” — even the regular dangit and the clams… The tours were amazing :-) And if you like Bob Marley … :-) :-) :-)

    May 7, 2010 | 5:47 pm

     
 

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