Rediscovering Manila: Binondo Food Tour

I’ve always wanted to go on a food tour in Binondo. I’ve been to Binondo once or twice already, but those trips were just eating at one particular restaurant. This time, through the Chinese genius that is Diane, we walked the streets of Binondo to eat the best authentic Chinese food in the heart of Metro Manila.

Binondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world. Can you believe that? It dates back to 1594, during the time the Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards, and was intended to be the permanent settlement of Chinese immigrants. It was the center of trade and commerce back then, and the Chinese immigrants, who considered Binondo as their first home, contributed to the rich culture it has today.

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Diane, Ria, Kent, Cali and I started our food tour in Ongpin Street. It’s the main road of the often busy Binondo. Expect a lot of traffic and bring with you a lot of patience. Each of us shelled out Php 200. That gives us Php 1,000 as our communal budget for being foodies. Hehe. Walking along Ongpin Street, Diane led us to this stall selling “Shanghai Fried Siopao”. The stall does not have a name, but methinks “Shanghai Fried Siopao” really is the name of the stall. Among all the Chinese food we ate today, this one’s my favorite. I love how juicy it is even without putting sauce in it,  unlike the ordinary siopao. And it’s only Php 17. Great value for money!

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Our next stop was at the Mandarin Supermarket, also in Ongpin Street. Oh my, I love this place. It’s very reminiscent of my trips to Hong Kong. It has VLT, my favorite drink to buy in 711 or Circle K stores in HK, Nestle Milk Tea, also a favorite and lots and lots of Chinese snacks I’ve only seen in my visits in HK. I repeat, I love this place.

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Diane led us next to what she says the restaurant that serves the best xiao long bao, Ko Chi, somewhere inside the alleys of Binondo. It was sad though that they didn’t have xiao long bao ready when we arrived, but we had our fill of the pan fried dumplings. Eight pieces for a little over a hundred pesos. Sarap! We passed by the Eng Bee Tin store afterwards to buy hopia and then went straight to Carvajal Street to try as Diane would say, the best empanada ever. She led us to Quik Snack right in the middle of Carvajal Street. The restaurant is famous it has a trip advisor sticker at its front door. 🙂 We ordered empanada, oyster pancakes and oodles of noodles (what’s it called again?). True enough, the empanada is a winner! Diane even says that some order them in bulk and are sold out as early as 3PM. Edi masarap nga!

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After having our fill of the yummy empanadas, we passed by Holland Hopia and Bakery to buy more hopia. Aside from that, we found, guess what? Chocnut chocolate milk drink! I wonder what this tastes like. Only Php 10.  Can’t wait to try it!

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Our final stop is Dong Bei Dumplings in Yuchengo Street. Since we were already semi-full from all the eating, we just ordered one plate of their famous kuchay dumplings. You get 14 pieces of those yummy dumplings for only a hundred pesos. Sobrang sulit!

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From Yuchengo Street, we walked back to the Lucky Chinatown Mall and while waiting, we managed to squeeze in a little time to go bargain hunting along the busy streets of Divisoria. Fun day? Yes. Tiring? Yes. But totally worth it! Oh and remember our Php 1,000 budget? There’s still Php 50 left. 🙂

We missed you here, Debs, Mark, Paul and Harrel. Next time let’s do a foodie tour in Paranaque and Maginhawa. 🙂 Thank you Diane for making our itinerary for today. We love Binondo and you!

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Featuring Cali’s selfie skills — getting there. Hehe.

Until next time.

*photos from my iPhone and group photos from Kent and Cali

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