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