Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Foodtrip Pilipinas: Best Tastes of Binondo

Binondo, also known as the oldest Chinatown in the world, was established in 1594 as a settlement for the Chinese migrants arriving and trading in Manila. Although dominated by Filipino-Chinese merchants nowadays, Binondo become a cultural melting pot for many other migrants, like Muslims and Spaniards, which makes it an interesting cultural place to visit... and to sample food. 

Dong Bei dumplings
Frog legs 
Tea egg 
Lord Stow’s egg tart
Sugarcane juice
Fried siopao
Liver steak
Iced brewed coffee
Kiampong rice

These are just some of the myriad of delicious dishes we had last weekend during our trip to one of the busiest commercial places in the country—Binondo. And the price for stuffing ourselves with these great (and sometimes...weird) tasting food... P296.00!

My friends Janet, Ciel, Muy and Pitet met up to explore this famous food district. As soon as everyone arrived at our meeting area, near Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, I felt like my tummy was all set for everything that Binondo has to offer.

Our first stop was the old and and historical Binondo church. Thanks to Ciel, our very informative tour guide, we got some interesting facts about the church and its history. I learned that the first Filipino Saint, Lorenzo Ruiz was once a "sakristan" or was trained here before he was sent as a missionary to Japan where he was executed for refusing to denounce his religion. Today, Binondo Church is known Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish. A statue of the St. Lorenzo Ruiz stands near the altar. 

Binondo Church

Then off we went to Café Mezzanine, located near Binondo Church. Just by the look of the designs inside this cafe, one can immediately guess that it’s owned by a fireman. Well in fact, it really is. What I liked most about this cafe is that all the revenues are donated to Binondo and Paco Volunteer Fire Search and Rescue Brigade Inc.  Thumbs up for that!

When we got inside, there were a handful Chinese customers having their breakfast. I was already famished so we immediately checked the menu (although Ciel already knew the bestseller in the cafe. haha!). The kiampong rice and iced brewed coffee we tried are perfect starters for a day-long gastronomic trip. 

Cafe Mezzanine

Next stop: Dong Bei Dumpling. The restaurant is nestled in a small and humble place at Yuchengco St. Ciel said it's a must for us to be there, so we followed through. One good thing about Dong Bei is that one could actually see how their dumplings are being prepared. And really, they are good. The textures and taste blend perfectly well.

Dong Bei Dumpling

The next stop was inside the Lord Stow Bakery to taste the Macau-famed egg tart. What I think about their egg tart...hmmm... goodness and yumminess exploding in my mouth. 

Lord Stow's egg tart

For lunch (to think we’ve been eating already), we decided to eat at Binondo Estero Fastfood. The place was packed when we arrived so we headed to a small restaurant at the second level of the building. We ordered chicken, frog legs and liver steak. Oh yes, fried frog legs!! True to what is often said about it, it does tastes a lot like chicken. 

Lunch time scene at Estero

We passed by Delicious Kitchen to grab a bite of their famous tea egg. I didn't get to taste it, but Muy thought it's fine.

We continued with our walking tour and had a quick stop at a siopao stand to try the fried siopao. Well, the taste resembles that of regular bola-bola, only that it's fried. Hence, the name fried siopao. It's something I would want to eat for snack. :)

Finally, we tried the famous sugarcane juice which completed the smorgasbord of my Binondo favorites.

egg tea, "dila", fried siopao, sugarcane juice

To Janet, Ciel, Pitet and Muy, thanks for the company. Let's do it again! 


Binondo Food Trip Tips:

1. Going around on foot is the best way to enjoy a food tour in Binondo. I felt safe roaming the streets, but it pays to be extra careful. Also, be in your most comfortable outfit, and be modest if you plan to visit Binondo Church. Bring a cap or umbrella. 

2. You may find it hard to find a parking spot if you intend to bring a car so you may just  as well commute. Kalesas are still available as another option for commuting tourists. 

3. Besides foodtrip, there are a lot of Chinese stores around Binondo so bring extra shopping money. Just in case you bump into something interesting.

4. Enjoy Binondo! Dig! :)

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