[BigBinondoBowl2] Culinary Secrets of Binondo!


I’ve always wanted to explore the culinary secrets of Binondo. I always knew that Binondo has a lot to offer aside from the all time favorite Eng Bee Tin Hopia stop, or eating in the exotic Estero, or grabing a quick chinese fix from your chinese fast food chain like tasty dumpling or the usual President chinese meal. This tour is also not about the original Diao Eng Chay (popularly known as DEC) store or the famous Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian in Binondo. I got curious with the Big Binondo Bowl streetwalk tour by Ivan ManDy ever since Marketman’s Binondo Food Tour post last Sept. 2005. There are a lot of articles already written about this tour and the background story about Ivan’s streetwalks which I will not attempt to duplicate. What I like about this tour is that you can see and feel Ivan’s advocacy on the Filipino – Chinese’s rich history. At the risk of divulging the entire tour, I’ll just give you a glimpse of the tour, the food stops, and try to compress the 4 hour streetwalk into one blog post. Hopefully it would also have the same effect that after reading through this post, you will say “So when is the next tour?”

The 4-hour streetwalk culinary adventure begins in the Binondo Church at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon. If this is your first time in Binondo, parking could be a challenge for you. My favorite parking spot is located on the right side of the street as you see Binondo church directly in front of you (when coming from Jones bridge). The parking lot has no name but it has this sign that says you need to park backwards. The tour begins with the history of Binondo and you can see how well researched this guy at par with Carlos Celdran.

Sidestop. The first side stop was a chocolate tablea store that manufactures them right inside their store.

The first reaction of people visiting this place is how could I missed this as I pass this chocolate store a number of times when visiting Binondo. Marketman has a nice write-up about this first stop and I quote:

“First food stop was a brilliant little chocolate tablea manufacturer, perhaps the last of its kind in Chinatown and a long-time (several generations) family run business. A modest storefront with just a few packages of tablea on display in their glass stand leads to a back room where the freshly roasted cacao beans brought in from Davao are ground up fine and cooked into a thick chocolate paste that is then dried on flat baskets stacked high. The aroma at this stop was simply amazing… it stuns me that I have walked by this storefront at least 15 times in the past 5 years and NEVER noticed what they were making within. I really have to keep my eyes open!”

Binondo’s First and Only Themed Restaurant!

After all the formalities and mandatory food for the mind on the rich history of Binondo, we finally arrived at the first food stop. This is Binondo’s first theme restaurant dedicated to the famous volunteer fireman organization in Binondo. Gerry Chua of Eng Bee Tin fame decided to setup this restaurant whose proceeds would go to the Binondo’s volunteer Fire Brigade. You can see a lot of Fireman’s hats and nuzzles along the walls and what fascinated me was Ang Sung’s award winning photographs of the devastating Binondo fires. If you love photography, these photos are a must see.

Finally, the first meal of the tour is composed of Kiampong (fried rice with spring onion, pork adobo and adobo peanuts), complimented by a fish ball soup and the restaurant’s famous iced coffee. Most of the chinese in the Philippines came from Hokkien ancestry and this is an authentic Hokkien style comfort food. The taste would be different from our usual cantonese style yang chow fried rice. I love cantonese chinese food and I now know what Hokkien food taste like.

Hole-in-the-wall “Fresh” Dumpling Restaurant (Voted as the best stop of the tour)

Don’t be deceived by this unassuming 4 table restaurant from what Ivan calls BS chinese (bagong salta — new breed of chinese that came over in the Philippines). This is undoubtedly the best stop in the tour and I have take homes to prove it.

This is the secret of the restaurant. Freshly made dumplings rolled before your very eyes. You can definitely differentiate the difference of a fresh dumpling from a long-time-frozen one. This is similar to eating fresh soft hand made pasta vs. eating the packed pasta you can see in the grocery stores.

Yummy Chinese Pancake! The only reason I’m not too hot about this is because it was fried but the taste is delicious.

This is the best dumpling I ever tasted! If ever I’m going back to Binondo, I won’t go back to the usual fast food chain chinese restaurants. This is a winner 🙂 I took a P100 worth of dumplings home and my wife equally loved it 🙂

Sidestop: Have you ever tasted an Ice Tea marinated chicken eggs?

Sidestop: One of the better merchandised up-scale chinese goodies store in Binondo.

Authentic Taiwanese Chinese Turo-Turo Resto

This is a favorite lunch place in Binondo because of its affordable value meals.

Cold Taiwanese Noodle with vegetables and peanut sauce — this is the only cold noodle that I loved. It is vegetarian too so it is not true that the Big Binondo Bowl only serves fattening chinese food 🙂

Sidestop: Fear Factor style Chinese Medicine Store. These lizard lovers need to be eaten in pair.

Sidestop: There was also another side stop on the famous Fried Siopao of Binondo. It was OK different from your usual Siopao.

The grand finale: A secret Lumpia place in an Art Deco Building.

This place serves fresh lumpia that is authentic better than the Greenhills Little store lumpia. Although my wife would still say that her Amma’s or grandmother’s fresh lumpia is still the best! I would agree 🙂

Would you know where these restaurants are in Binondo? Thanks to Ivan for sharing these culinary secrets with us 🙂


Old Manila Walks run on weekends.
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email: oldmanilawalks@gmail.com
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30 thoughts on “[BigBinondoBowl2] Culinary Secrets of Binondo!

  1. My mom is famous for her fresh lumpia amongst our family and friends. No meat 100% vegetables. I actually don’t buy the fresh lumpia’s from ma mon luk and the likes because hindi ako nasasarapan. I think she makes the best fresh lumpia ever, but I’m probably bias. Invite ko kayo once so you can compare it to Rache’s amma’s version:)

  2. Great photos! And I agree the dumpling place was superb…reminds me that I have to go back for a second serving…you can buy them to take home as well!

  3. hi, i’ve recently discovered your blog and i drool in envy when i see the beautiful places in the philippines you’ve been to.
    could you rate the top 10 resorts you’ve been to?
    oh, and have you been to leo’s leisure park in pampanga? we were wondering if it was any good.

  4. Ivan’s Binondo Food Tour is first on my to do list!
    Wonderful pictures! It will be a challenge to do better!
    I love Chinese food and I just crave for some dumplings right now!
    Nicely covered as always, Anton.

  5. I like eating at Cafe Mezzanine and the downstairs fastfood!! (forgot the name now. )Binondo really is a treasure trove of culinary delights. I wonder how much the tour is? Will it still be worth it even if I know some of the places already..hehe

  6. Hi anton! I know those resto’s that you’ve featured. They’ve really got good dumplings! But you should also try Ma-su-ki restaurant (known as Ma-kong for binondo dwellers) next time you dropped by the area to try the authentic original mami with their special sauce and siomai! It’s an old original mami house in binondo/ and the Philippines (according to my dad) and still existing…. Actually I’ve been an avit consumer since i was a kid. (Eating there as a reward from my uncle after my chinese tutorial) and so far, I have never failed my colleagues tastebuds with that superb chicken broth… Just don’t expect a good ambience though, coz it’s literally an old establishment. They’ve maintain the ‘rugged’ look, and remnants of tradition and heritage. They’ve recently opened a branch in greenhills, but still nothing beats the old package of ma-su-ki in binondo. It is located in Benavidez St. (Beside golden fortune and across wan chai resto’s – superb food also!)Ping me for other details…I would be glad to share it from a girl who lives in binondo!

  7. Hi I was wondering where is the Fresh Dumpling Resto and the Binondo First Themed Resto is located. Or anyone can suggest other restos in the area? Thanks Anton for the wonderful job ur doing.

  8. there’s another fresh lumpia store located in quiapo, too. near the overpass and chowking.. basta, it’s SOOO good! such a small place so people usually take them out nalang. you should buy more than one if you won’t eat there so won’t have regrets later 🙂 i personally like it because of the garlic flavor. costs P16 each.

  9. hi anton!
    i love your blogs!! have you been to masuki\makong (try their asado noodles with special sauce but their original mami according to my grandma is the chicken skin mami and also try their siomai), tasty (try their kuchay dumplings and the fried porkchop that comes with really yummy toyo rice), emperor (somewhere in soler.. try their siao long pao, dumplings and onion cake), peace (love their noodles!!!) and also waiying. i love these places.. if u ever go back to the binondo area try them out.. 🙂

  10. Hi do try out the new noodle shop just across wai ying in binondo. Owner is from beijing. He personally makes the noodles. You can see the whole process through their open kitchen settings. They also served authentic northern china dumplings. Food there is too die for and the price well…… its soooo cheap. Problem is place is too small and so theres a long waiting time

  11. Oh and yeah try big bowl resto along masangkay street ryt across metro bank. Theres a reason why the place is called big bowl, its becoz servings are BIG!!!. Big star there is there stewed beef with rice or with noodles. Really yummy, and as a casual dining place, price is also very cheap. Less than 100pesos for a huge plate. Theyre also famous for their different fried rice.
    Also try ang tunay beef house along gandara. Beef is king there as well as there ready cooked food. Really yummy.

  12. And oh my newest discovery, the list of food stalls located inside the new divisoria mall food court. Stalls there are owned by main land chinese. Really good food at very affordable price. Imagine this, u get a big bowl of jasmine rice, 2 dishes, free soup and an ice tea, all for only 50pesos. Each stall usually has more than 20 dishes on display, freshly cooked. They got fresh fish cooked steamed, or fried or stew. Prawns steamed or fried. Chicken leg 2 pcs is only 20pesos. Variety of veggie dishes. Chickens and other stuffs too. Food is so good that jolibee’ sales were affected. Heck even greenwich closed coz of those stalls. U just have to contend with long queues in those stalls. Better go there around 1030 am to avoid the lines. If there are any left over by 2pm, they sell them all for only 30 pesos. Was able to buy almost 1/4 kilo of steamed shrimps for only 30pesos. Grabe

  13. ….i also know a chinese filipino restaurant in the 60’s 70’s in the philippines where the ingredients does wonder on ‘timely’ health miracles on others….they said it is only ‘hearsays’ o sabi sabi lang to invite more customers{no health benefits o wonders}i strongly ‘disagree’now and in the past….but if it is really that good then it should’nt be treated as ordinary good luck lol….

  14. “You can see a lot of Fireman’s hats and nuzzles along the walls and what fascinated me was Ang Sung’s award winning photographs of the devastating Binondo fires.” Wow. Sir Anton, though you spelled his name wrong, Ang Sin is actually my grandfather! We live in Binondo, see, and Gerry is a family friend. My grandpa is actually a internationally multi-awarded photog and now I suddenly feel very proud.

  15. ….’divisoria mall food court’ should open branches around low salaried income neighborhoods businesses factories public schools colleges universities or in any low income market places nationwide….that way low income salaried filipinos do not have to pay their entire one{1} day salary just to eat one meal offered in malls or other fast food restaurant….i heard about a sales lady in baguio market not long ago whose salary was 75.00 phpesos a day an amount only good for one complete meal in medium restaurant….meaning she has to either bring her own food job food or eat in what sidewalks or small places can offer but what about her children their food their rents their school needs-fees clothings hygeine-household necessities medical electri-water bills needs transportations plus what about if they have brothers and sisters or grandparents with them….meaning low income person or filipinos can never afford or experience ‘vacations’ or a decent living experiences….meaning that calls for ‘vulnerable’ extra activities to find ‘ways’ to afford ’emergencies’ poverty needs….they are susceptible vulnerable to ‘criminal’ activities if low the income has low or poor educations-comprehensions or nothing to loose….so philippines-the government must find ‘ways to balance’ the salaries from daily needs of low income filipinos ‘survival’to keep them away from being ‘anti socials’ to lessen prison inmates free hospitals from overcrowdings….meaning less human ‘liabilities’and ‘billions’ of pesos social savings{better used-system}than use it as social ‘expenses’…..”binondo town-divisoria food court mall”….best places to eat…..i will not forget that….lol!….

  16. Hello! Can you tell me the name of the resto which serves yummy pancakes and fresh dumplings? Was it at Dong Bei’s? Where is it located? Thank you soooo much 🙂

  17. Oh! So it’s Don Bei (pronounced as Don Bey?). Sorry, I may have a bit of Chinese blood but I sure am inutile when it comes to the language. Yesterday, my friends and I went on to our second food tripping at Chinatown and we walked Ong Pin Street from end to end (twice!) looking for a resto called HOLE IN THE WALL Lol! I think we were traumatised after that haha I remembered the restos were generally called Holes in the Wall. Anyway, we ended up eating at Wai Ying and buying dumpling’s at Tasty Dumplings (which I thought was the one posted on this site which serves fresh dumplings). Do the people at Chinatown know where DON BEI is? We’ll just ask tricycle drivers (I am absobloodylutely unfamiliar with the ins and outs at Chinatown but I love getting lost anyway). We’re going back soon! I hope you could tell me more “very yummy dishes” to order at different restos there (we literally transfer from one resto to another). May God forgive us for our gluttonous appetite for food and endeavours lol (President’s is one of our food stop next time)

  18. hi anton,
    love your blog! can i please have the name of the dumpling place and location. also, where is the art deco building for the lumpia. yummy! hoping to hear from you 🙂

  19. hi anton!
    whenever i am free at my work here in Q-11 and GMA 7 i always finds time to read your thirsty traveling experience.
    i love the articles and the photos too!
    i hope i could read more from your daily adventures. you keep me updated specially on philippines’ prime secret destinations… made me proud to be a Filipino!
    kaya pag may time I will set a date of my gala with friends to visit those wonderful places.
    thanks thanks!

  20. ..i’m planning to take my family out on the chinese new year’s.. and i wana celebrate it by dining out in one of the chinese restaurants at binondo.. its just that my budget for it is very tight so im hoping if you could give me a place that serves authentic chinese delicacies but would fit my pocket.. thank you.. hopin for your favorable response..

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