One of the many activities organized for our homecoming balikbayan batchmates was this. Old Manila Walks has been doing tours around Metro Manila (and out of town) since 2004. Our tour guide Ivan, took us around Binondo one fine Thursday morning at 930 and gave us a 3.5 hour tour that was both fun and satisfying to the tummy. I joined this specifically because of the food we were going to enjoy!
First stop was the historical Binondo Church, where the group met up and listened to Ivan give us a brief but very detailed and interesting history of Chinatown. Then it was off to do some walking.
Here's a detailed account of all of our stops:
1 - the last remaining tsinelas factory in Chinatown which still makes Kung Fu shoes, the kind we used to wear to school, yes! Also spotted some beaded slippers which my Lola loved to wear when she was s
2 - Cafe Mezzanine, Volunteer Fireman's Coffee Shop - owned by the same person who runs the famous hopia store, Eng Bee Tin. Our first "meal" was taken here. They served us Kiampong (a brown rice dish with peanuts) and suuuuuuuper delicious Fishball Soup.
That's our guide, Ivan in the background
See all those happy faces? Our tummies were full but this was only our first food stop!
3 - Dong Bei Dumpling - a hole in the wall on Yuchengco St. The place can probably fit in a maximum of 20 people (snugly). From the outside, you can already see a couple of girls working on those dumplings. It's an art, really.
I wonder how many of these they can do in one day
We were asked to try twokinds : Kuchay and Pork
The special sauce on the right side is similar to Gyoza sauce, minus the chili oil. We were told you can add chili oil of you love spicy sauces. They also sell these dumplings frozen. A couple of us took some home. For a pack of 31 pieces, you only have to shell out P200.00 That's the beauty of Chinatown for you. Super cheap food!
Dumpling cooking tip : they're best eaten BOILED, not steamed or fried. Drop them in a pot of boiling water and wait for them to float. That's when they're ready to eat.
4 - Special Siopao Stall along Benavidez St. - the siopao we were asked to try here had a nice twist to it. They're made to sit on a huge griddle so that the bottom part is slightly crispy. I honestly forgot what's inside it (not Asado or Bola Bola) but it was really really good. This stall sits right next to the famous Wai Ying Restaurant, which serves the best congee in Chinatown.
5 - Eng Bee Tin, the renowned makers of our favorite Chinese merienda, the Hopia. Here, we were allowed to try several other variants like Ube, Pandan and what not. I still prefer the traditional Baboy and Monggo though. My balikbayan batchmates had a field day filling their baskets with Eng Bee Tin to take home with them as pasalubong.
6 - Last stop! The Po Heng Lumpia House, which apparently is so popular. I had never been there before though. By this time, I was already bursting at the seams so I had to say no to the fresh lumpia they served us. But my friends made sure they still dug in.
This is what it looked like
Familiar? That's because you don't really have to go all the way to Binondo to get this. Whenever Neal craves for it, we drive to the DEC Chinese Store on Wilson Street, Greenhills.
The place looked like a huge cafeteria. It got so noisy the minute we walked in haha!
A couple more photos we took before the group adjourned at around 1pm
I promised my LA-based cousins that we would do this the next time they're in town. It's a totally different experience and a good diversion from the usual balikbayan itinerary of restaurant and mall-hopping.
Old Manila Walks also does the following tours:
San Miguel/Malacanang Palace
Far Eastern University (FEU) Campus
You can visit their Facebook page to see what else they have. I recently checked and saw an entry about a Pampanga Food and Culture tour. Now that's exciting too!
For those who are interested to know, the Binondo WOK Tour costs only P1,000 per head (inclusive of all the goodies you're going to eat). Just find a way to get to Binondo on your own and you're all set!