The province of Bohol in the Visayas Region of the Philippines is mainly agricultural, with several coastal towns providing fresh seafood the whole year round. The presence of several tourism establishments, each showcasing regional cuisine and their own chef’s version of it, bodes only well for the foodie.
Amorita Resort’s Saffron Restaurant (www.amoritaresort.com) in Panglao offers a splendid view of Alona Beach, the Bohol Sea and truly unique sunsets. Housed in a contemporary structure with magnificent arches in the reception area, its menu consists of Continental comfort food and Filipino favorites, as well as “genuine Boholano dishes from authentic heritage recipes passed on through generations to tasteful reinterpretations of local flavors.”
Start off with their cool welcome drink, a refreshing blend of pandan and calamansi lemonade garnished with actual slices of the fruits and green herb. Or guzzle on their house blend iced tea with hints of lychees, garnished with red cherries and sprinkled with muscovado sugar around the glass’ rim.
Breakfast fare offers several choices of bread, fresh greens, hash browns or fried rice paired with little round Bohol longganisa, chicken tocino, dried squid, tuna longganisa, bacon, egg omelette or delectable slices of ham.
Of course, grilled seafood is a staple for lunch or dinner, seafood being readily available on the island. There are prawns, squid, fish (several varieties) served with a generous amount of atsara (vegetable preserve) made from pickled raw papaya fruit with herbs and spices.
Their version of pork sinigang has the pork meat (crispy lechon kawali, not boiled pork) and steamed vegetables served separate from the sour soup base.
Medium rare Angus beef steak served with spicy noodles and sweet pastries for dessert rounded off the dining experience.
South Palms Resort Panglao (www.southpalmsresort.com) which acquired several hectares of the land from Bohol Beach Club has the Oceanica Seafood Restaurant with a view of the longest stretch of white sand on the island. The Uys who own the resort also own several fish farms, hence live catch and fresh produce are delivered straight to their kitchen to pamper guests with only the freshest food for the best dining experience.
Live seafood (fish, crabs and prawns, with lobsters on occasion) are on display at one end of the restaurant for diners who prefer to choose their meal and have them cooked to their specifications.
The country’s National Dish Lechon (roast pig) is a main feature in the weekend buffet. Grilled chicken is also served, with an appetizing display of regional salads to choose from. Consider fresh yellow fin tuna salad with just the right garnish of lemon juice or vinegar and spices. Dilis (small fish called Dill) salad has sun-ripened tomatoes and strips of bell pepper with lemon juice or vinegar. Then there is Guso (seaweed) salad served also with sun-ripened tomatoes, lemon juice or vinegar.
During weekend nights, diners are treated to a unique presentation of folk dances by the resort’s staff, culminating in a fire dance which is popularly found in the resorts in Boracay and Puerto Galera, but this time with audience participation for souvenir photos.
Ocean Suites Bohol Boutique Hotel (www.oceansuitesbohol.com) located right beside the Blood Compact Shrine in East Tagbilaran Road, Tagbilaran City has a splendid ocean view of Panglao Island. The architecture is modern with plenty of glass, steel and concrete complemented by pockets of tropical plants for an organic feel.
The resident chef of their Café & Restaurant Chef Renel C. Dimacali is a former seminarian who studied culinary arts at Enderun and trained abroad. Instead of relying on imported ingredients to create his menu, he utilizes ingredients which are readily available in Bohol.
Start off the meal with Halaan (local shells) Soup, followed by his version of pancit (noodles) with deep fried vermicelli noodles as toppings. His version of grilled chicken has the chicken marinated in special herbs and spices resulting in a very flavorful main entrée.
Humba (sweet pork) has ground peanuts in the sauce which adds an interesting contrast to the sweet meat, topped with crispy kangkong leaves for a bit of green in the plating.
Grilled fish Tanigue (King Macarel) is just as flavorful especially since the fish is fresh, and garnished with black and green olives, sliced bell pepper, onions and tomatoes with a dash of lemon juice.
Fish and chips (chips in England look like fries) come with the classic Tartar Sauce. Baked fillet of Salmon was served with Hollandaise Sauce garnished with herbs and olives.
Acknowledgement: heartfelt gratitude to Lucas Niccolo M. Cauton III – CEO, Adie Gallares – Corporate Director of Operations, and Katalene Agmata – Director of Marketing of Amorita Resort; Hope Marie R. Uy – Managing Director, and Lolita Lyn D. Uy – F & B Operations and Business Development Manager of South Palms Resort; and Chef Renel C. Dimacali of Ocean Suites Bohol Boutique Hotel for hosting meals for national media during the coverage of Sandugo Festival 2014.
This coverage was made possible as a part of USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project which seeks to increase competitiveness of economic growth areas including Bohol, in partnership with the Department of Tourism and the Province of Bohol.