Chinatowns exist everywhere in the world. May it be in the USA, Australia or in Europe, these little cities of Chinese expats are part of the culture of every country. But did you know that the one we have in the Philippines, is the oldest Chinatown in the world?
Binondo was established in 1594 and has been an enclave to Chinese and Filipino- Chinese communities ever since. I have always been fascinated with this area of Manila. As a child, my mom takes me here to buy my favorite hopia and tikoy. But now, it is my first time to explore it myself.
Inspired by food write ups and blogs that I’ve read of Binondo, I decided to do my own brief food tour due to limited time. Before this personalized exploration, I started with a visit to Binondo Church. The mural paintings inside the church are definitely overwhelming. I loved the subtle colors, simple paintings overhead and solemnity inside the church that abstracts the outside. After saying a little prayer and lighting colorful candles, I went along with my brief journey around Binondo.
My first stop is a childhood favorite of mine, Eng Bee Tin. Famous for their ube hopias and tikoys, this famous Chinatown pasalubong center is such a delight for foodies. They offer a variety of food products that are all delicious. My top picks? Ube-Pastillas Hopia, Bite-sized Moon Cakes, Mochi and their new product, Custard Hopia! Budget: 44php-up for hopie, mooncakes and other delicacies.
After pasalubong hoarding at Eng Bee Tin, I immediately looked for what I call the “Blogger’s favorite”. Every write up I saw online raves about DONG BEI Dumplings at Yuchengco St. and told myself I needed to try these after the third positive blog review that I read. When I got there, the cooks are filling, wrapping and preparing hundreds of raw dumplings. I asked for a set boiled right away for my first taste. Stuffed with celery, chives, cabbage and a selection of pork, shrimp or vegetarian, the dumplings are definitely worth the cravings. Priced at 100php for 14pcs, you can take home some for pasalubong and cook them yourself.
For dinner, I went to Chuan Kee Fastfood for a quick bite. Pancit Canton, Oyster cake, Siomai and Maki are my favorites. With my limited time exploring, I know I still have a lot to see in Binondo. I would have loved to try the famous fried siopao or the must try chicken at Sincerity, but this should do it for now. The experience left me with more reason to go back and explore more! Budget: 80php-up for meals and various dishes.
Going around: Modes of transportation around Binondo includes the Kalesa and Pedicabs. If you are in for an adventure, opt to walk around to feel the culture and the vibe that Chinatown offers.