To be honest, I’m not much of a fan of Chinese cuisine until I went to Binondo. There’s something about the authenticity of that place that satisfies my taste buds unlike the commercialized faux Chinese restos in Manila. So when I went with Team Kaladkarin to have the best Binondo food trip, we made sure to max out our experience (and cash) and ate for 9 hours in 10 different restaurants/stores.
Some of us met up in Ongpin St. and each had their own adventure going here because we were not familiar with the place. In short, medyo nawawala kami nung umpisa. Smarla has The Big Binondo Food Wok map by Ivan Dy, but she won’t be joining us until lunch so we had to rely on my beautiful sketch of the area:
1. Shanghai Fried Siopao
Our first stop was the Shanghai Fried Siopao. It’s kinda hard to spot this place because they only have a small signage and it doesn’t stand out with the rest of the shops so if you’re not too careful, you could easily pass by this place. The only direction I can give is that it’s along Ongpin St. and a few steps before you reach Mang Inasal.
Maliit lang yung siopao but it’s really fulfilling because it’s cooked fresh. For P16.00, a couple of it and you’re busog na. I say it’s the best siopao I’ve ever tasted, hands down.
2. Wai Ying Fastfood
Another one of my favorites is Wai Ying because of their awesome Milk Tea (P 50.00) and they’re popular dimsums. This is where we had our lunch so we ordered a lot because they had a lot of interesting things on their menu. The place is along Benavidez St. right after you take a right turn in Salazar St.
I’ve read a couple of blogs that recommended their Roasted Duck Congee (P120.00) so we ordered that for sharing. The trick in having a good food trip is to split everything so that everyone can have a taste of each dish and in the end, may space ka pa to eat at other restaurants and hindi masakit sa bulsa.
We also ordered and fell in love with their Curry Beef Siomai (P55.00) because of the interesting taste the curry gave to the siomai, their Century Egg Siomai (P65.00), and the Shrimp Chong Fan (P60.00). All 3 tasted great and I would definitely come back for the Curry Beef Siomai and Shrimp Chong Fan and try other dumplings as well. The Shark’s fin (P60.00), though I’m not a fan of, also tasted waaaaaay better than the ones in malls.
Also along Benavidez St. is the famous Masuki. They’re well-known for infusing siopao sauce in their noodles and for having the biggest Siopao and Siomai in Binondo. For a little over P100, you can already have a big serving of their noodles.
Their Beef Wanton Noodles (P55.00), which I had in my previous Binondo experience was a steal! Huge serving for a small damage to your wallet. But when we went there, they already ran out of beef so we opted for their Original Mami Special (P110.00) which all 6 of us shared. They give you each a small plate of their siopao sauce para ikaw na ang bahala magtimpla sa soup. We also tried their Special Siopao Taipao (P75) just to see how big their siopao really is and I must say that it’s already good enough for 2-3 people as a side dish. Inside it is a wealthy serving of pork asado, sliced chicken, and salted egg. Yum!
We were already so full after this and it was only our 3rd stop!
4. Shin Tai Shang
Naisip namin na we wanted something sweet for a change, so we dropped this store that sells TONS of sweets pastries. Shin Tai Shang is like a mini grocery along Salazar St. where people can buy small cakes and packaged drinks. And yes, they taste as good as they look! If you’re a Green tea lover, you have to try their Green Tea Plum Cake (P40.00), it’s a little pricey for the size but it’s worth it. I also bought their Assam Milk Tea in a pack out of curiosity. They also have green tea, milk tea, and jasmine tea in powder form which you can buy in huge packs for around P200-ish depending on the brand.
5. President Tea House
At first, some of us were a little hesitant to try the President Tea House because we were already running low on cash. So we went in prepared to order just one main dish and maybe a few dumplings. Because all of us felt really adventurous that day, we ordered their Crispy Fried Pigeon (P360.00) na may kasama pang ulo. The pigeon meat was a little heavy and thick compared to the common chicken. I even said that if chicken meat was like chocolate, then pigeon meat would be dark chocolate. Oh, and I ate the head part! The pigeon’s brains tasted like isaw.
We also ordered a couple servings of their Bird’s Eye Dumplings (P65.00), which weren’t literally made from birds eyes but of shrimp instead. It was okay. President Tea House is right beside Shin Tai Shang.
6. Café Mezzanine
A good Binondo experience wouldn’t be complete unless one is brave enough to try the infamous Soup # 5, which is a soup made from a bull’s testicles. We headed to Café Mezzanine, a fireman themed restaurant above Eng Been Tin in Ongpin St. just for this dish. After tasting their Soup # 5 (P250.00) all I can say is masarap naman pala talaga siya. As long as you don’t fuss about it being the bull’s family jewels, you’ll realize that it tastes similar to the other more common bull parts.
Café Mezzanine is also popular for their Kiampong (P48.00) but I forgot to order it because we were all excited to try the Soup #5 so I guess that’s one reason to come back to this place next time!
After eating, we saw Ivan Dy enter the place together with his tour group! I was a little bit star struck, konti lang naman, and we had a picture with him right before we left the place. Nakita rin naming si Vicky Belo as part of the group pero I don’t really care much about her.
Cafe Mezzanine is a restaurant created by the same person who owns popular hopia chain Eng Bee Tin. All proceeds of this restaurant go to the volunteer firefighters of Binondo, thus the fireman theme of the place.
7. Tasty Dumplings
Moving on, we headed a few steps along Ongpin St. to try Tasty Dumplings. Even though their name suggests that they have really good dumplings, they are more popular for their Porkchop Noodles (P99.00). You will be served a good serving of noodles and thinly sliced porkchop on separate plates, malamang. For a better experience, slice the porkchop intotiny strips and put them in the noodles. In fairness, ang sarap ng combination and for a hundred bucks, it was reaaaaally good!
During our lunch at Wai Ying, Mary said that their Winter Melon Juice (P40) were “heavenly” so we expected a lot from it. I expected that it would be very sosyalin and even created a body gesture while saying the drink. Pero when I saw it I was a little let down because it was served in an ordinary glass and it didn’t even taste as good as heaven.
8. Estero Food Alley
To continue our adventurous gastronomic experience, I took the group to Estero. They place is a bit rustic and dingy and you might be concerned about the cleanliness of the food because of it’s location beside a river, but I think it’s something one needs to experience just for the heck of it. Here we ordered some Fried Frog Legs with Salt & Pepper (P200.00). The price ranges depending on how many pieces of frogs you’ll order. 8 pieces of frogs = 16 frog legs = P200.00.
Last year, I had their Spicy Fried Frog Legs for P110 for 4 pieces.
9. Dong Bei Dumplings
Undoubtedly THE BEST DUMPLINGS in Binondo, hands down!!! I wasn’t really looking forward to this place because I’m not a fan of dumplings, I think dumplings are just okay. But this place seriously changed my mind. I can confidently say that this was the highlight of my foodie experience during the day in Binondo. In fact, if only I had more money left, I would order their raw dumplings to go and cook it at home. Located along Yuchengco St., this is one of the places I strongly recommend you visit in Binondo.
It’s a small place with only 4 tables available for customers, there’s another table that the staff use to prepare the dumplings. Yes, you’ll actually see them preparing the dough and everything while you wait for your food. We ordered a mix of Steamed Dumplings (P150.00 for 21 pcs!) and their Fried Stuffing Pancake (P100.00, 4 pcs). When we were downing the steamed dumplings, I was already raving about how I love the flavor, but when we got to the Fried Pancake, I was in heaven. Their both actually similar only the latter was in pancake form. I can still vividly remember how much I enjoyed both dishes.
10. Ang Tunay na Beef House
After having an orgasm at Dong Bei Dumplings, our final stop was sort of a let down. Because a lot of us were already short on cash, we only ordered one dish for the entire group to share. The Lake Palos Soup (P220.00) is made of eel and it wasn’t really up in my alley. It was too malansa for my liking and madaming tinik. However, I’m giving the place a good benefit of the doubt since we only tasted one dish from their wide array of food choices. They even have a cheaper Soup # 5 and frog legs, although I’m not sure if the serving is as big as the ones we had in other places. For P220.00, we felt that their not-so-inviting Lake Palos Soup fell short.
I thoroughly enjoyed my 2nd Binondo food trip and would come back again for more. These are only 10 places out of sooo many food options in the area and I would like to explore the rest. Also, if I were to come back again with Team Kaladkarin, I’d definitely eat again at Dong Bei Dumplings, Wai Ying Fastfood, Café Mezzanine, and Tasty Dumplings.
Also, if you want to have a food trip of your own, I suggest buying Ivan Dy’s Food Map of Binondo as it has proved helpful in our exploration of Binondo’s finest! Each restaurant has a brief description about their specialty and their location is well represented in the map. The map is available at Bahay Tsinoy Museum, Libros Filipinos Bookshop (Filipinas Heritage Library) or the La Monja Loca Store for P100.00.
If you want to be part of our next Binondo Food Trip, just say so in the comments section below and I’ll keep you posted. We will definitely come back for more!
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