I joined the Rockwell Club's WALKAPEDIA Tours with my friend Oskie and his cousin, Juni , who was visiting from the States. Our destination was Binondo and Chinatown... what made me join this tour???.... I joined it because I heard it was going to be a walking culinary tour. There are walking tours in Binondo.. but I liked this culinary Binondo Wok of Ivan Man Dy the best.
According to the flyer, this culinary walking tour will last 4 hours. Here are some things you are required to do when you go on this kind of tours----
** You should wear light clothing.
** Put on comfortable walking shoes ( sneakers and rubber shoes is a MUST ).
** Bring a camera ( you will need it to take a lot of photos along the way ).....
** Bring some sun or rain protection ( umbrella-- if possible )
** Do not eat breakfast if you are planning to join a culinary tour--- you will be eating along the way....
** Have an open mind about the food you will be tasting and experiencing for the first time.
** and the most important item ..... bring a bottle of water with you....
Are you all set???? Come and follow me as I walk this BINONDO WOK..
Our meeting place was at the Rockwell Club Lobby at 7:30am.. and we will ride the bus to the Guadalupe Station to take a ferry boat ride on the Pasig River... I was surprised to find out that we were 59 persons joining this culinary tour. There were a handful of foreigners in our group.
This was my first time riding a ferryboat going to Binondo. I found out that there are 4 ferry stations that are now opened. They are Pasig, Guadalupe, Escolta and Intramuros. If you would like to experience the ferryboat ride --- it costs 60 PHP one-way..
Let me share with you some of the photos I took while we were on our way to Binondo.
Our ferry boat ride going to Binondo was about 40 minutes. It was overcast that day... but it was OKAY --- since we were going to be walking most of the time....and I was bent on taking photos that day.. I just hoped that it would not rain!!
On our way to Binondo--- we passed the Malacanang Palace and the official residence ( Ang Pangarap ) of President Aquino...... We were not allowed by the Philippine Security Guards ( PSG ) to take any photos using our cameras, small digital cameras or even cellphones .... Around 200 meters before reaching the Malacanang Palace... we were advised to go inside the boat... and stay inside till we have passed the palace and the residence of the president. We even had a PSG with us --- just to make sure no one was taking photos...
Our ferryboat docked at the last stop --- INTRAMUROS --- We were met by another tourist bus that drove us to Binondo where we met our tour guide, Ivan " street walker " Man Dy, and his partner Anson Yu. We had to be divided into 2 groups since some of the places we will be going to won't be able to fit us all in.
Our first stop...... PLAZA CALDERON DELA BARCA
This is in front of the Binondo church. Plaza Calderon dela Barca is also known as the Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz..This is one of the most impressive open spaces of Old Manila. This plaza was lined with trees and is beautifully landscaped with fountains on both ends. Plaza Calderon dela Barca was the most important square during the colonial period in Manila. The statue you see in the photo is that of San Lorenzo Ruiz. This plaza still has the water fountains which was built in the 19th century.
BASILICA DE SAN LORENZO RUIZ
It is also known as the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz. It was built in 1596 by architect Domingo dela Cruz- Gonzales. It is now one of the Architectural Heritages in Manila. This Basilica is a well-known Chinatown landmark. The original building was destroyed in 1762. The current Baroque structure was rebuilt from the post World War II ruins. The minor basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz was named after the sacristan, Lorenzo Ruiz who served at the convent of Binondo church as an altar boy.
Our first Culinary Stop.....
CAFE MEZZANINE is located on the second floor of ENG BEE TIN grocery in Ongpin Street.
It is Chinatown's only firefighter-themed restaurant that serves a delightful mix of Chinese and Filipino breakfasts. This is were we had our first culinary stop... we had KIAMPONG RICE.
Kiampong rice ( or salty rice ) is rice cooked with peanuts, onion leeks, pork meat and mushrooms. Some of my Chinese friends call this dish the Chinese-Style Paella. This dish is very good paired with soup dishes. They served the fish ball soup steaming hot. The way to eat KIAMPONG --- is to put a little soup in the rice bowl and mix it.
Then we walked to another place ( in Calle Nueva - or Yuchengco Street ) which was a few blocks away to another " hole - in- the -wall " restaurant called DONG BEI DUMPLINGS.
This hole-in-the-wall joint serves authentic Northern style dumplings. As you enter the place you can see them kneading and rolling the dumplings before your eyes... therefore, you are assured of their freshness.
Here we tasted 2 kinds of dumplings... plain pork dumplings and the PORK AND CHIVES DUMPLINGS. We also tried their fried stuffed CHINESE PANCAKES. One word of caution is that the restaurant is so tiny that it can only seat 20 people at a time.. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed their dumplings. I would like to say that their dumplings were hands-down winners!!! They were served in a special dipping sauce and every bite I took is worth savoring.... One thing I noticed with the dumplings is that the wrap of the dumpling was so thin that you can actually see through the stuffing.
According to Ivan, our tourguide, he said there is another "gem of a restaurant " in Calle Nueva which is called " SINCERITY CAFE ". It serves the tastiest fried chicken you have ever tasted in Chinatown. I thought all the while... when you hear the name CHINATOWN and fried chicken... the best chicken in this area was a place called SAVORY located at the foot of Jones Bridge going towards Escolta. I guess I was wrong after all. It was a pity... SINCERITY CAFE was not in our culinary tour today... maybe next time I go to Chinatown... I will look for this little "gem of Chinatown "....
Next stop..... ONGPIN STREET in Chinatown.
Chinatown is bustling with all the flavor of life and the very best of Chinese food. It is the only place where you will find the richest and the poorest of the poor enjoying the same great, simple meals. It is truly one of the best spots Manila has to offer.
When I hear the word ONGPIN... I am reminded of my favorite hangouts when I go to Chinatown...
They are the PRESIDENT RESTAURANT....I love their dishes -- soy chicken, roast duck, eel with black beans etc. Although there was a time --- the President was closed for a long time.... well??? I have good news for those who love this place... The President was re-opened its doors to the public once more!!!
This grocery was introduced to me by my Chinese friends, Bea and Maureen. Whenever we go to Chinatown on a weekend for lunch at the President Restaurant.... we would end up at ENG BEE TIN grocery after our meal. Here you can get the best CHAMPUYS and Chinese delicacies like shark'sfin, dried Chinese mushrooms, sea cucumber, black hair moss, bird's nest etc.
The PRESIDENT TEA HOUSE and fruit stalls on Salazar Street
The Chinese gifts shops....
and last but not the least .... their Chinese Drugstores...
which sells herbal medicines and exotic ingredients -- like the dehydrated lizards---The sight of this lizard can be a little unnerving. According to Anson, our other guide, This lizard is cut up and heated in rice wine... then it is pounded and then boiled with water like tea. Chinese drink this tea for curing various ailments like asthma, kidney infections and coughs. Although I am very adventurous.. there is no way I am going to drink this tea with the essence of a dried lizard in it!!!!
Then we moved to another hole-in-the-wall place in Benavidez Street....an eating place is called the WAI YING FASTFOOD --- our landmark for this little joint was the sign across the street that read.... MANILA CHINATOWN HOTEL.
The place is so unassuming... no frills... no tables or chairs... All you need to do is to place your order to any of the cooks manning the joint.
We tasted the best SIOPAO I have ever tasted. They call it the PAN FRIED SIOPAO. What makes it different from the siopaos we are accustomed too?? First--- it has no paper at the bottom of the bun. You can see that the bottom is fried. Second --- the filling is made of minced pork with herbs and wansuy and it has its own sauce. I would say ---- the taste of this siopao is similar to the Japanese gyoza dumplings wrapped in a Chinese bun.
From here we moved on to our next stop... SANTO CRISTO DE LONGOS SHRINE
It is located in San Nicolas street in Binondo. A mixture of Chinese and Catholic belief with garlands of sampaguitas on the crucifix and Chinese incense sticks and fruits offered here. It was founded by a deaf-mute Chinese man.
HOLLAND HOPIA house..
This bakery is known for its hopia baboy, diced hopia, flavored hopia like buko-pandan, macapuno-ube etc. With a wide range of choices for the different hopia flavors at Holland.... making a decision on what to buy was quite difficult. Which one would I buy to take home??? Holland is one of the rivals of Eng Bee Tin and Polland Hopia... I like Holland hopia because it is less sweet than Eng Bee Tin.
our last stop was..... NEW PO HENG LUMPIA HOUSE in Quintin Paredes Street
The New Po Heng Lumpia House is located in the Uy Su Bin Building. It was the best fresh lumpia I have ever tasted!!!!
Ivan let us taste his secret Chinese lumpia sauce.... which was mashed minced garlic and white vinegar. YOU must try this one!!
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog on the culinary walking tour to Binondo and Chinatown... I would strongly recommend that you to join this tour when you are visiting in Manila... Even up to this day, I am in total awe every time I go there.
To our tour guides .... IVAN MAN DY and ANSON YU.... it was a job well done !! I enjoyed every moment of this walking tour... I love exploring the places which I usually take for granted.... and Chinatown and Binondo was one of them!!!!