Every Chinese New Year, Kap & I make it a point to go back to our roots in Binondo & immerse our kids in the chinese culture. If you don’t know it yet, I am a true-blue Binondo girl. Born & raised. It was only in my late teens that I transferred to the South when my father passed away & my mom had to close shop & take over his businesses here. I then “transformed”, “adapted”, and became the shala Alabang girl that you perceive me to be now HAHAHA! :P
The kids don’t see themselves as Chinese, really. They don’t even speak & understand the language. Pinoy na pinoy na sila sa puso’t diwa so once in a while, we shock their systems & take them to chinatown. ;) And in spite of the quiet & peacefulness here in the suburbs, I’m happy to note that they also adapt well to the noise & chaos that is Binondo. Yan ang kinalakihan ko noh!
Chinatown in Binondo is really so festive & colorful. It’s always crowded so I braced (myself and) the kids for a loooong walking tour & crowded food trip. We were fortunate to find a parking space & walked our way from there. Behind my Lovey is the Chinese-Filipino Friendship Arch -one of the 3 markers that serve as the unofficial boundary surrounding Chinatown in Binondo. The arches commemorate the bond between the Chinese and Filipino community throughout the centuries. The other 2 arches are: The Arch of Goodwill, and the Arch of Solidarity,
One thing you can do if you can’t find a parking space in the heart of Binondo, park at Lucky Chinatown Mall & just ride a calesa -a horse drawn carriage, or a tricycle. Hari sila ng kalsada. You’ll get to your destination in no time! :P
Case in point: These drivers have no remorse running over you so do watch out. They are the Fast & the Furious of Binondo! @_@
Every year I say to myself: Jane, maawa ka sa sarili mo at sa mga bata. Don’t go to Binondo na this year, SOBRANG SIKSIKAN. And yet, like a druggie, I still go with the fambam every single year -no fail. You can take out a girl from Binondo but you can never take out Binondo from a girl. ;) This is my heart & soul kahit na magpaka-shala pa ako! :P
The long street of chinatown in Binondo is one big flea market. You can never pass without buying a trinket or 2. I dare you!
Thursday FEB 19, 2015. Year of the GOAT! The Goat comes 8th in the Chinese zodiac. The 12 zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
Because the stores close early, you gotta buy all the chinatown essentials that you need before anything else.
So we got all the flavored hopia & tikoy we could carry to last us a season, lels. :P Beware, napapanis yan. So make sure you only buy why you can consume within the limited time allotment printed on the package.
For my grocery needs in Binondo, I really just go to either ENG BEE TIN or DIAO ENG CHAI. I don’t like the taste of the other hopia stores. Eng Bee Tin – 628 Ongpin St., 1006 Binondo, Manila (632) 288-88-88
Top on my list for take-home is this frozen Siomai from Wai Ying 350 php/pack. The best siomai ever -big & crunchy. My kids love this so I really hoard whenever I get the chance. <3 You can keep it stocked in your freezer & it’s consistency remains the same.
When in Binondo, go to Wai Ying for the Peking duck rice & dimsum. Their Chicken rice is also the bomb! Better yet, get a combo! m/ Wai Ying – 927 Benavidez Street, Binondo, Manila (02) 245 4603
MUST TAKE HOME! Country Chicken Cuisine – Masangkay Street Sta. Cruz, Manila WITH EXTRA SAUCE! Country Chicken House (in front of Wai Ying!) Binondo 1329 G. Masangkay St. Tondo, Manila (02) 252-7884 Serving size/box: Jumbo Chicken 320.00 Jumbo Half Chicken 165.00 Regular Chicken 200.00
Because we promised the kids a Binondo Food Trip, we made our first stop at MANOSA RESTAURANT for the yummy, starchy, gooey MAKI MI. <3 Small 100 | Large 115 Ongpin Mañosa – 926 Ongpin St, Sta. Cruz 1014, Philippines Phone:+63 2 733 3179
Next stop: NEW EASTERN GARDEN RESTAURANT for the best fresh lumpia in Manila! New Eastern Garden Restaurant (Est. since 1950) – 954 Ongpin Street, Sta. Cruz Manila (02) 733-6226 Lumpia small regular 38 | special 45 | Lumpia Jumbo regular 50 | special 55.
Fresh na fresh.. they make it while you wait! I must warn you, these are mostly hole in the wall restos so don’t expect fine dining.
Bags armed with baby wipes HAHAHA! Mga taga-Alabang talaga! :P
Chicken Misua with Sibut (chinese goji berry medicine) 150 php/bowl. This has a somewhat bitter taste that only the Chinese people know how to eat. At best, it’s an acquired taste. I ate my share with gusto but the kids barely touched theirs. :)
If you want to cook on your own though, just buy a Manok Tagalog & boil it together with sibut, or preserved chinese wolfberry/goji berry which can be bought at any chinese drugstore. SIBUT is known to restore energy & boost the immune system.
Our tummies were quickly filling so we had to walk it off a bit by visiting the Te Ya Kong Chinese Temple located at the 3rd floor of an old building, for that authentic Chinese feel.
Along Ongpin corner Fernandez St., walk a few more meters then turned left to Kipuja. At the bend, you will see a dead end. The building on the left of that dead end is where the temple is.
Also called Seng Guan, the Philippine Chinese Buddhist Temple was built in 1882 by Wang Tze Chi, the great grandfather of the temple’s current owner.
Entrance is free. You go up 3 flights of stairs to reach the Buddhist temple on the 3rd floor.
During the Chinese New Year, Chinoys offer flowers, prayers, and burn paper. Thus this giant oven. It is believed that through burning, they are offering prayers and wishes to their dead ancestors.
In the middle is Te Ya Kong who is made out to have a red face because he’s the god of war in Taoism. He protects & defends the oppressed and fights against all those who wish to take advantage of others. He is one of the Chinese gods of wealth, helping people pull in wealth and prosperity to their lives and homes. He’s pictured holding a book, since he is also the god of literature.
If you have more time & you want to immerse yourself more in the Chinese culture, do go to Seng Guan Si Temple on Narra Street, near Divisoria as it is said to be the biggest & grandest buddhist temple in Manila. And you can have your fortunes told.
Te Ya Kong or Seng Guan Buddhist Temple is open to the public and is worth visiting as it shows the roots of the Chinese-Filipino, you can burn incense sticks and say your prayers.
On our way out, we see SHANGHAI SIOPAO. I have been looking all over for this Fried Siopao store & it’s so funny how we unintentionally saw it on our way back! The temple gods much have heard my fervent prayer. ;P Yummy fried bola-bola siopao, 20 pesos each. <3 Shanghai Siopao – 809 Benavidez St. Binondo, Manila (02) 2449034
We also passed the infamous ESTERO. In all my life as a sheltered Binondo girl, I have never eaten here. I might just include this on my bucket list! ;) The Estero, or a tidal channel used as a drainage canal in populated districts, is located just after the Ongpin Bridge. Thus the name. And yes, it is a bit smelly. But people don’t seem to mind. LOOK!
And in our journey on foot, who should we see but Mrs. Food Alphabet herself! My dear preggy friend JOAN LIM. <3 She & Abet were with me during my 3-day birthday weekend. I love them both dearly!
A couple of other eateries were in our list such as: QUICK SNACK for its Kutchay Ah (Chinese chive pastry). A flaky pastry filled with meat and Chinese chives, quite filling and one of the bestsellers. SINCERITY RESTAURANT for its Fried Chicken. And DONG BEI DUMPLING for the best dumplings in town. And they are incredibly cheap – P100 can get you either 14 dumplings with pork and kuchay or 10 pieces of pork and shrimp dumplings. The soupy xiao long bao, meanwhile, costs only P90 for six pieces.
But we were pressed for time & almost all establishments were closing for the celebration ahead. We will just have to go back another time.
And finally, we reached our real destination! PRESIDENT RESTAURANT. We are forever loyalists of this eatery in Binondo. <3
First on our list, a succulent duck!
Frog. Para mataas ang talon at pag-asenso! :P
Taro on the puff was our chinese entertainment! Due to the lack of available tables, we were seated in a section reserved exclusively for an association party so we were privy to their program. We were serenaded with chinese songs while we were eating. Now this is what you call authentic chinese dining! ;)
All in RED. Luck, follow us please! Did you know: Red is the color or symbol of good luck in Chinese culture and is often used for new year decorations. The number “8” also symbolizes good luck and wealth, since the Chinese character for eight rhymes with fortune or wealth.
Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year or the Chinese Spring Festival, holds the most significant position among all Chinese festivals and holidays. It lasts for the first fifteen days of the Chinese lunar calendar, which on the Western calendar begins sometime between January 21 and February 21, varying from year to year. The celebration includes decorations, parades, folk traditions, and a wonderful feast. If you want to participate in the celebrations, there are many things you can do to join the festivities and to pay homage to Chinese traditions:
See you again next year, Binondo! <3