Tuesday, February 7, 2012


i was having a hard time deciding whether to put this entry on my food blog since i will be talking mostly of my food adventure here.  later though i decided to put it here as part of my wowPilipinas entries.  after all, binondo is one of the must-visit places when you are in the philippines.

i love chinese food. and when you are in manila, the best way to experience chinese food is doing a food trip in nowhere else but china town.  

china town is more known for its big binondo food wok. binondo is said to be one of the most colorful and exciting places you can explore in manila.  for many locals, a trip to binondo means a celebration of flavor and culture.  the town itself offers a festive environment from its long array of establishments of restaurants and shops.

together with my admu human resources management team, we spent one afternoon to explore china town and feast our tummies to an ultimate food adventure.

we met our tour guide at binondo church. the church was built in honor of the first filipino saint, san lorenzo ruiz.  it was originally known as minore basilica of st. lorenzo ruiz.  it was founded by the dominicans in 1596 and is considered to be one of the oldest places of christian worship.

we started the trip by having a visit down memory lane regarding the fresh start of china town.  i know the the place offers a rich beginning but i am afraid i cannot capture them here right now.  besides, i am too lame to talk about history today.  since the trip for me was all about food, i'd rather stick to that.

we had our first stop at new po-heng lumpia house.  chinese menu will never be complete without its traditional lumpia.  our tour guide shared that the lumpia served here is an original/traditional recipe.  the place is quite small with only around 5 tables for its customers.  i noticed that there are a lot of suki already and they come and go with huge orders of the lumpia.

there is a lady who takes the order and another one who prepares the lumpia.  even with the way the lady prepares it is so pleasing to the eyes.  she does it fast but i find her preparation artsy too.  first she'd lay down the wrapper,sprinkle sugar and black seaweeds, put in a piece of lettuce, followed by the mixed vegetables (carots, cabbage, tofu), and sprinkle chopped nuts.

what made the stop interesting is the 4 ways of eating the lumpia as introduced by our guide.  1) eat the lumpia as it is - allow your tastebuds to savor on the taste of the different ingredients. 2) with peanut sauce - a lot of filipinos love their food to be saucy.  the peanut sauce adds a sweet blend of flavor. 3) with hot sauce - chili paste gives the lumpia a kick and 4) with fresh garlic and RC cola.  i actually did not try this one because i am not a fan of fresh garlic.  but my trip buddies found it to be an interesting taste.  they said that the garlic with the lumpia goes well with the soda.  they say that is had a way of popping the flavors up. oh well, i don't actually know what they meant by that. maybe on my next visit i can try the 4th taste to understand their point. i loved the lumpia so much.  i loved it that they serve it fresh and hot.  i ordered some for take home.

our next stop was a specialty restaurant called cafe mezannine.  the restaurant is firefighter-themed and (geez) the color purple is just in every corner.  the place serves both filipino and continental food as well as the common hokkien favorites.  we tried their famuos kiempeng rice, squid soup and adobo tofu. 

of course dumplings cannot be set aside when we talk of chinese food.  at dong bei dumpling we had a taste of these dumplings.  we were first served with what they call fried stuffing pancake, followed by steamed dumplings.  the stuffing for both is actually the same. it has chives, celery, cabbage, bell pepper, and pork.  i loved the fried pancakes so much.  but i was already too full to have another serving. i am not a go-getter of steamed dumplings but i still made sure to try them out.  the stuffing tasted really good specially with their vinegar and garlic dip.

similar to the lumpia house, dong bei dumpling is also small.  it only has around 4 tables. upon the entrance is also a table where you can see their staff preparing the dumplings. i enjoyed watching them. the dumplings really looked so cute. the restaurant also sells frozen dumplings which customers can buy and cook at home. prizes were relatively affordable.

shang hai fried sipao came in next on our itinerary. i love siopao so i was really excited to try this one out.  how it looks is pretty much like our usual siopao.  the only difference is that after steaming the siopao they fry it in a large pan with a little water.  it reminded me of naga's (bicol) toasted siopao.  the fried siopao tasted good, but my heart still shouts toasted siopao forever.  there was a long line of customers so i assume that people really like it so much that they don't even mind the heat of the sun.

last stop on our route is at holland hopia. we cannot end the tour without getting to taste one of china town's best hopia maker. you will be amazed of the variety of flavors available.  we tried their hopia with tikoy. it was like eating two chinese favorites in one.  i loved it because it wasn't too sweet and the stickiness from the tikoy makes it more fun to eat.  i bought some for take home for my sisters. i hope they like it too.

binondo girls
my binondo tour was tiring in a way that there was much walking to be done.  but it was at the same time fun and amazing because of the long list of food one can try out.  if you are a lover of food and is not afraid of trying out chinese culinary at its best, a visit to binondo is a perfect get-away thing to do.

you can check www.oldmanilawalks.com for a guided tour or if you'd prefer to have it on your own, you can get a copy of the big binondo food wok map.  

binondo food wok last 012812sabado
posted 020712 tuesday


  1. ahhh!!! binondo girl! last time I went there it was for divisoria though, not for the food. try mo ate yung chan pei mui 陳皮梅 o chinese fruit candy. parang raisin na malaki pero hindi ganoon katamis. malaki pa. hehehe! chinese food ♥

  2. ah.. we actually went to this big chinese store that sells chinese products.. i think they have so many kinds of candies, condiments and a lot more food... but i didn't have enough money with me so i only bought myself one pack of wheat bar. they pretty much taste like our local "ampaw.." i still have some in the fridge.. :)