The second season of our show “Foodprints” on the Lifestyle channel started doing the rounds to try to find the best places to eat all over the country.
One of our stops was the very popular Chinatown or Binondo in Manila. I had been here many times in the past and have tasted many of the dishes we got to check out. I was in awe at what I learned about one of the food establishments.
For me, Eng Bee Tin makes the best version of the traditional mongo and ube hopia (The Kiampong and Goku combination is to die for). Unlike others that use pork fat to make their products taste better, Eng uses corn oil, which is a healthy alternative. I was amazed not only at the 40-plus varieties of hopia the company has created, but also the sense of community service that owner Gerry and his son Jeric Tan adhere to.
Eng Bee Tin has several branches all over the metro; a café sits on top of the Binondo outlet. All proceeds of this café go to support fire prevention activities. So far, the company has donated 10 fire trucks. No wonder I see the trucks in Binondo colored purple. No wonder the business is also so blessed.
One place we also visited was a Taiwanese store called Shin Tei Shang Food shop, owned by Cristine and her husband. Here, we found unusual and healthy food like curry chicken empanada, various lean pork meat pies, chicken kikiam, mixed grain rice stuffed in sausage casings, vegetarian multi-grain rice and many more. What an interesting shop.
On Benavides Street, we bought a no-name siopao, which was delicious. It had minced pork filling and was toasted into something crunchy before being sold. Sarap.
You know you’re encountering good food when you’re so stuffed and yet you somehow still find space in your tummy for the next thing coming along, when your original plan was really just to taste in bits.
King Chef at Lucky Chinatown mall is a semi-fine dining restaurant with a reasonably priced menu. The Kutchay dumpling I tasted was outstanding. I can safely say that this dim sum is comparable to Hong Kong standards.
I was also very impressed with the Peking duck served three ways. I tried the standard one with wrapper—minced and sautéed, wrapped in lettuce and the bones made into soup. Here you’re given the option to try the third way, which is duck cooked in salt and pepper and served with vinegar. New to me, and also very good. This we had for merienda.
Unique training program
For dinner, I joined the crew in having hot seafood spinach soup, chicken fortune bags (delicious and unique), a crispy suahe with tea leaves, eight-spice spare ribs (highly recommended—they should make a chicken version of this), and salted fish fried rice. Everything reminded me of the fine cuisine of Hong Kong.
Owner and foodie Marites Ang works with her chefs to come up with good dishes via a unique training program. Instead of bringing in chefs from Hong Kong, they send their Pinoy chefs to Hong Kong to train there.
This was the first time I tried authentic-tasting Hong Kong-type cooking done by Pinoy chefs. Galing!
The resto also has standard dishes like sweet and sour pork, hot and sour soup, salt-and-pepper squid, etc. It’s always packed, and this is already the second branch, with the first one somewhere in Banawe.
What a trip! Happy eating!
King Chef Seafood Restaurant is at the 2/F, Lucky Chinatown Mall, Reina Regente St. cor. La Chambre St., Binondo, Manila; tel. 7209062.
Visit sandydaza.blogspot.com. Follow on Twitter @sandydaza.