The start of Lunar New Year on Jan. 25 is as good a time as any to make the trek to Binondo in Manila, the world’s oldest Chinatown.
Money changes hands multiple times daily in this populous and prosperous area, but visitors come not so much to do business as the chance to indulge in Chinese delicacies.
For close to a decade now, we have been going to Binondo this time of the year to stock up on lucky charms, eat freshly made dumplings and fried chicken, and drink cold sugarcane juice.
A quick online poll on popular Binondo eats on the 18,000-member Facebook page Best of the Best Manila drew a flurry of responses. Old favorites such as Sincerity fried chicken and Dong Bei’s steamed kuchay dumplings were on the list but so were a few we have yet to try.
Lifestyle compiled this short—and by no means complete—list of delicacies one can sample in Binondo in this Year of the Metal Rat.
1. Ying Ying Tea House
233-235 Dasmarinas cor. Yuchengco Street
My companion and I split the Soy Chicken Mami (P120, good for two) that had a clean-tasting broth, perfectly cooked noodles and flavorful chicken.
Our favorite was the sizzling oysters that we sandwiched between fried mantou bread. The pillow-soft bread (sold separately) sopped up the buttery oysters sauteed in garlic and sliced chilies.
2. Wai Ying
810-816 Benavidez Street
Pork siomai (P90) and hakaw (P120). We didn’t have room for the bestsellers: roast duck and shrimp chao fan.
3. President’s Grand Palace
746-750 Ongpin Street
On an earlier visit we ordered the Pata Tim with Mantou. Suggested dishes include the Salt and Pepper Squid, Prawn Salad, Fried Oyster and Green Onion
4. Sincerity Café
497 Yuchengco Street
Fried chicken and kikiam
5. Dong Bei Dumpling
642 Yuchengco corner. Tytana Streets
6. Polland Hopia
925 Benavidez Street
I like this branch because they sell hot hopia and cold Coke, and have seats and even a park bench where you can rest in air-conditioned comfort. Just be sure to buy a box or two of hopia.
7. New Po Heng Lumpia House
627 Carvajal Street (with take-out counter on Ongpin beside a stall selling chilled sugarcane juice)
Chinese lumpia filled with carrots, cabbage, tofu, crushed peanuts and sugar. At P95 per piece, it’s a filling snack good enough for two.