It’s always a walking experience of history whenever we had the chance to do a food walk tour in Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. It’s not only the food that made the food walk tour interesting but also the places that surrounds with people living and culture that shows the history of Binondo.
Also it’s also the time of the year as Chinese celebrates the annual Chinese New Year. For this year, 2017, the Chinese welcomes the coming of the Year of the Fire Rooster. The Chinese Lunar New Year day begins on January 28, 2017. We’ll talk more about 2017 Chinese New Year on our next featured article.
This time we’ll share our food walk tour in Binondo with a challenge to bring in a budget of P300 only. Let’s see what we can find and have with a shoestring budget and at the same time have a great experience touring the Chinese community.
When you walk the streets of Binondo you’ll see a lot and different mix of people, Chinese, Filipino, Chinoys, and foreigners. People who live in Binondo are mostly businessmen who came from a long line of Chinese heritage when parian trading began in Manila as early in 1571.
Now let’s go to our main course.
First Stop, Quick Snack
Quick Snack is famous for meet-ups because its close proximity to the main street and is just located inside the alley of Carvajal Street where a lot of sidewalk vendors fill the lot. Carvajal Street is a busy aisle with different commodities sold everyday. Quick Snack is a bit fancier than the usual restaurant in Binondo, one thing that made an impression is the strong air-conditioning that they have inside.
For a quick Quick Snack, we had a one serving meal of Tenderloin Steak (P100), plain rice (P40), and a regular Coke in can (P45). Not bad if you’ve not made up your mind of what to order at Quick Snack. The Tenderloin Steak looks like the typical Pinoy Tagalog Beef Steak but different in taste. Quick Snack’s Tenderloin Steak offers a sweet flavor topped with sliced red onions. It also has a hint of star anise. The one serving dish is good for one person only.
We also took a small bite of the Lumpia (fried) that Azrael ordered for P75 per piece. It has lot of tofu (tokwa) stuffed inside. It also tasted good.
Second Stop, Big Bowl Noodles
You’ll never find Big Bowl Noodles easily when you walk along Yuchengco Street. Perhaps, the most you’ll remember is Sincerity which is the popular in this street.
Big Bowl Noodles is located in between office supplies, hardware stores, and commercial banks. The noodle house is on the ground floor of what looks like a residential two-story building. We were not impressed of the food here but we nevertheless enjoyed the first-time experience at Big Bowl Noodles. If you’ll visit Big Bow Noodles, don’t forget to check out their ordering system. When you finish ordering your food written on a piece of paper, it will be placed on a plastic bottle ready to be pulled up where the kitchen is located on the upper floor.
We ordered one serving of Beef Brisket Noodle Soup (P110), Seafood Hofan (P150), and 4pc, Siomai (P60) for group sharing.
The Beef Brisket Noodle Soup is good for sharing for two to three people. If we were to compare, the hand-pulled noodles from Lan Zhou La Mien in Ongpin Street tastes much better than Big Bowl Noodles. If we’re going to go back in Big Bowl Noodles, it will be the Seafood Hofan and Siomai.
Third Stop, Ilang-Ilang Restaurant
During the food tour, we were accompanied by Chef Rache Go who is well-versed not only in cooking but the history and heritage of the oldest Chinatown in the world. She brought us to make a stop and dine at Ilang-Ilang Restaurant in San Nicolas. Th restaurant built in 1910 serves Hokkien dishes. They also do catering. Ilang-Ilang Restaurant derived its name from the street where it was built, Ilang-Ilang Street. It’s not that popular, according to Chef Rache because it’s far from the Binondo center and it’s hidden from the service road. But, for Chinese and Filipino residents, Ilang-Ilang Restaurant is an established restaurant that is rich in history that every food lovers shouldn’t miss visiting.
Before reaching Ilang-Ilang Restaurant, we have to pass by Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. The church was founded by the Dominicans in 1596.
Another touristy spot is the what used to be called Plaza de Binondo. It is now known as Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz, named after the martyr and first Filipino saint Lorenzo Ruiz. The plaza is just right across Binondo Church.
We also passed by one of the oldest hardware stores in Binondo where Cham Samco & Sons, Inc. is presently located.
Going to San Nicolas district, historians and those who read the books of Dr. Jose Rizal will be given a glimpse of the Panciteria Macanista de Buen Gusto which roughly translates to ‘delicious Chinese food from Macau’. The panciteria was mentioned in the book El Filibusterismo, chapter 25. Today, the property is just a reminder of the old Binondo and how it helped shaped the culture of the Chinese-Filipino community. It is now abandoned and there are no updates if the property will be restored to its old ancient look or if it will be left for good until the last pillar is standing.
Back in Ilang-Ilang Restaurant, we let Rache do the ordering since she knows more about this place. She ordered Chicken with Rice Wine Sauce (P235), Chami miki guisado (P135), Kikiam, and Shrimp with meat and spices wrapped in sausage skin.
The food experiencing at Ilang-Ilang Restaurant was like a trip to the old Binondo because of stories that we’ve learned from Rache. Food was good especially the Chicken with Rice Wine Sauce, which stands out from the rest of the dish that we had on our table.
If you’re going to Ilang-Ilang Restaurant, you must order the Chicken with Rice Wine Sauce. Seriously.
That’s the end of our pre-Chinese New Year 2017 Year of the Fire Rooster celebration in Binondo. Thanks to Rache of www.kaladkarindiaries.wordpress.com for guiding us on our walk-through. Thank you also to Jeff Gonzales of TripKada and Edel Santiago of www.thekitchengoddess.blogspot.com who joined the tour.
As you can see, it doesn’t matter how much you less spent in your food trip adventures. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent P300 more or less, it’s the learning of the cultures, heritage, and history of the place that will make your food walk tour more enjoyable.
This Binondo Food Walk Tour is part of our EATgetaway adventures. To know more about EATgetaway, visit our website www.eatgetaway.com.
Some information in this article were derived from Kaladkarin Diaries.
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