Having spent 4 years studying inside Intramuros back in college, I asked myself why the hell I did not become a foodie when I was always a few sprints away from overrated and underrated kainans of Manila?
Well, that’s one of the maaaany regrets of my teenage years but I am making up with self now.
And so fast forward one day of February, me and my coffee friends went to Binondo: the world’s oldest Chinatown. Damn. This food crawl is also pretty much a walk down in history too. Very interesting! To give you a little background, this historical Chinatown was established in 1594 by Chinese traders back in the old days of the Philippines. And knowing that Chinese Mandarin is still being spoken well by the Filipino-Chinese residents of Binondo today amazes me.
Coming from Lucky Chinatown Mall where we parked, our first stop was Salazar Bakery in Ongpin Street. First opened in 1947, this bakery is still a busy shop today. For starters, we had Hopia and Tikoy. But what aroused my palates was the Tikoy with Peanuts. I swear I thought it was weird at first but it got interestingly weird. And maybe interestingly good. I hella love the taste of Sago’t Gulaman and this tikoy is so insane it’s almost the same! Compliments well with the salty dry peanut filling. Love at first bite.
Shanghai Fried Siopao
On the other side of Ongpin Street is Shanghai Fried Siopao. This street siopao only cost P22 and for chrissakes, my friends and I agreed to share two siopaos for all of us. The reason was to save our tummies and avoid being fully loaded as much as possible but maaan, the taste is hella good! Such a breath of fresh air from the processed ones we are having just because it is convenient. I mean, this one is fucking authentic I guess? So all in all, Shanghai Fried Siopao is my best-spent P22 and I am highly recommending it to you. And not having a whole Siopao is questioning what the hell is wrong.
New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian Food House
Okay so this is the kind of menu that my fit fam would love. They cater to a wide variety of yummy food so we asked what’s their best seller and they gladly suggest the Seafood Soup. The big bowl of soup costs P150 and it’s very sulit. And for a vegetarian meal, I’d say it was tasty not to mention there’s a lot going on inside that bowl. Perhaps one of the best healthy eats in Binondo, for sure.
Located on the 2nd floor in the heart of Chinatown, Café Mezzanine is a fusion of Filipino and Chinese Food. We ordered Lechon Kawali (P135), Kiampong (P70), and Xiaolongbao (P180). Fucking tasty! I swear I loved it very much.
Lechon Kawali is always a stunner but that one is a jaw-dropper. Like seriously? How can good food be 10x better?
Their Kiampong is hardcore tasty as well. I could eat that alone without anything.
And the xiaolongbao? What the hell is xiaolongbao anyway? I never had it before. But I knew it was great! I like how it gives your mouth bursting flavors of sweet to savory. And a lot of joy too.
Dong Bei Dumplings
The famous hole in the wall authentic dumpling house in Yuchengco Street, Binondo. This tiny food house can be jam-packed, waited in line for minutes but they make your dumplings in front of you, so I think that was entertaining.
Okay. Can I just say that the dumplings were phenomenal? P200 for 14pcs. I personally think there is really no wow factor in this place but I like the fact that they are practicing the tradition of making dumplings every day. Fresh ingredients, made daily. Or maybe I still haven’t discovered the wow factor? But please, go to this place. You’ll love it there.
Eng Bee Tin
Another famous Chinese deli chain in Ongpin Street is Eng Bee Tin. Who doesn’t know Eng Bee Tin?! I personally love this because I grew up loving its best selling hopia! Their 3-story store is super awesome too. 1st floor is a grocery, the 2nd floor is the restaurant, and the 3rd floor is a freaking museum! Holy WOW. But unfortunately, the museum was under construction and was closed to the public. Which was pretty sad. Anyway, this store has a lot to offer. Name it, and they have it. Quality restaurant and well, hard to leave without a takeaway ube hopia!
Walking through Nueva Street in Binondo, you’ll see Holland. It wasn’t really that much not until the Chocnut drink mix (P100) and Chocnut spread (P80). I mean, what kind of fresh heaven is this? I am biased in loving chocnut. Aren’t we all? We reached this mini grocery store at around 6:30 pm already and that only means missing Cuapao (pork buns) Fucked, because I heard a lot of good reviews about it!
Sincerity Café and Restaurant
So we went on the other side of Yuchengco Street. And honestly, though I was totally looking forward to going to Sincerity Café and Restaurant only for one thing: Freaking frog legs. But a boy could only be so unlucky. We missed it for the universe. So we ended up ordering their famous claim to fame fried chicken (half for P160) and kikiam (forgot the price lol sorry).
Their fried chicken is, well, fucking fantastic. It is to die for! Super far from the western style good ‘ol f. chicken. The chicken itself, from the outer crispy skin down to the bones, it has a mild sweetness, a balanced mix of spices and a hella homey taste.
Oh, kikiam. This one’s quite authentic, wrapped in actual bean curd skin. I can say that it’s the best tasting kikiam I had. And the sauce, man. Freaking adorable.
La Zhou La Mien
Since this is our 9th stop, let me fucking vomit first. Just kidding! Hahaha I was so full already. But the heaviest meal comes at the end because life is full of unfair surprises. Me and my friends agreed to share a big plate of beef knife mien for P260. And even if I feel very full, I still find it appetizing which for me was something new. I mean just looking at the photo itself.
Sooooo after 4 hours of binge eating, we walked back to Lucky Chinatown Mall, had some Thai milk tea, drove to the world trade center for Big Bad Wolf (I happen to buy 5 exciting books!) drove back to Quezon City to drink beers until 5 in the morning. Ahhhh lupet!
Bucket list for the next Binondo food trip:
- Fried frog legs (Sincerity Restaurant)
- Po Heng Lumpia House
- Masuki Mami House
- Kim Hiong Food Garden
- James Grocery Carvajal
- Peking duck from Wai Ying Fast Food
- ASADO ROLL 🙁
- Visit churches
Top 3 Pop Food from this food crawl:
Marron – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Serenity’s Fried Chicken, Tikoy with Peanuts (Salazar Bakery)
Kean – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Dong Bei Dumpling, Kikiam (Serenity Restaurant)
Jeremiah – Dong Bei Dumpling, Knife Mien, Shanghai Fried Siopao
Angela – Xiaolongbao (Mezzanine Café), Shanghai Fried Siopao, Serenity’s Fried Chicken
- For fuck’s sake, think before bringing a car. Parking was hella shitty. Or better yet, come early.
- If you think it’s good, eat it and enjoy it. Do not hesitate! Or you’ll regret the hell out of it.
- Start the food crawl early. Some restaurants are only open until late afternoon.
- Bring a water bottle. Trust me, it saves a lot.
- I should learn more about how to take good food photos.
- Good food is always better and cheaper when shared! We only spent not more than P500 each for all the food we ate.
*plays My New Swag from the film Crazy Rich Asians* so then again, I should do it more often.