What to do on a random Saturday afternoon – why, visit Chinatown for a foodtrip led by my friend (a Binondo guide-in-the-making!!)
Before we dive in and talk about all the amazing food Chinatown has to offer though, let’s discuss a few things:
|What’s the best way to get to Chinatown?||■ By public transport, the nearest station is Carriedo (LRT-1). From Carriedo station, turn left at Rizal Avenue and walk towards Bustos until you reach Sta. Cruz Church (Chinatown is right behind the church). Riding the train is way convenient now with our trusty BEEP card (which I love love love!)
■ If you’re iffy about riding the train, just grab an Uber – which is crazy convenient and WAZE your way to Chinatown.
|How to get around Chinatown?||■ Walk, walk, walk!
■ Chinatown’s known for its narrow one-way street and crazy traffic congestion. Not only is it difficult to navigate the streets here, it’s also almost impossible to find parking in the area! You’re better off commuting or grabbing an Uber
■ If like me, you’ve got ZERO sense of direction – make sure to bring your phone with 3G capabilities and Google Maps your way around the area
|Do establishments in the area accept credit cards?||■ The fancier places in Chinatown do (e.g. President Grand Palace, Lucky Chinatown restaurants), however a lot of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants don’t
■ I’d recommend you just bring cash (around Php 1,000 – 1,500 should be enough), to make sure you don’t miss out on the wonderful food on offer!
|Which Chinatown area should I go for?||■ I’d say most of the restaurants you’d want to try are around the Benavidez St. and Yuchengco St., so stick to those two if you’ve got limited time!|
|How can I maximize my food trip?||■ Plan your route beforehand so you can optimize the number of restaurants you try!
■ Go around 1-2pm, when the lunch rush has subsided so you won’t have to queue up for the restaurants
■ Wear simple clothing and comfortable walking shoes (you’ll be doing a lot of walking!). Leave the jewelry and designer bags at home. Sad to say, this isn’t the safest place in the world, so if you don’t need it – leave it.
■ Secure your bags and take extra good care of your valuables. As much as possible, don’t bring out your fancy iPhones while walking along the streets and keep to the main streets where there are more people
On to the food trip!
President Grand Palace
- Address: 746-750 Ongpin St.
- Must tries: Fried rice, fried noodles with shrimp, and fish fillet with soy sauce! Simple food that definitely packs a punch!
- Cost: Php 200 – 300 per dish
- A nice grand restaurant where the Chinese usually celebrate auspicious occasions, President Grand Palace is a nice way to kick back and relax (even if you’ve just officially started your food trip). Prices here are a bit higher than the normal Chinatown hole-in-the-wall restaurants, but they’re still pretty cheap compared to most places in the Metro (I’m looking at you, Makati & BGC)
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Wai Ying Fastfood
- Address: 810 Benavidez Street
- Must tries: Cold HK milk tea, Kebab (similar to fish balls, dipped in sweet and sour sauce), Japanese siomai, Beancurd roll
- Cost: Php 55 for the HK milk tea (must try!!), Php 70 – 100 for the dimsum
This two-storey building is pretty full no matter the hour so you might have to wait a few minutes before getting seated. But fear not, turnover is pretty quick and you’ll be able to get a seat in no time. Would recommend getting a table on the second floor, as it’s less crowded
The restaurant’s not extremely clean though, so just make sure to wipe the plates and utensils thoroughly. If it still looks dirty, just tell your server to grab you a new one instead
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Dong Bei Dumpling
- Address: 642 E.T. Yuchengco St. cor. V. Tytana St.
- Must tries: Kuchay dumplings, fried pancakes
- Cost: Php 120 – 150 per dish (each dish is big – well worth it!)
Humble hole-in-the-wall where everything’s made from scratch within its four walls! It’s pretty cool to see them assemble the dumplings you’re eating on the table right beside/behind you
Note that this place is crazy small (holding capacity is around 16 to 20 people), so best to come here during off-peak hours (aka merienda time)
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Sincerity Café and Restaurant
- Address: 497 Yuchengco St
- Must try: Sincerity Fried Chicken, Fried oyster cake
- Cost: Php 150 / half chicken, Php 140 / small oyster cake
Fried chicken’s definitely not top of mind when you think Chinese food. But, Sincerity does it so well that I’d definitely rank this as one of the highlights of my Binondo food trip!
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Other restaurants to try while here (if you’ve got the stomach space!)
Masuki Mami House (929 Benavidez St.)
- Must try: Mami noodles, Asado siopao
- Comments: I love Masuki SO MUCH! Make sure to dip your noodles into their special sweet sauce, it’s so good, I swear!
Café Mezzanine (650 Ongpin cor. E.T. Yuchengco St.)
- Must try: Kiampong
- Cost: Php 100 per dish
Shanghai Fried Siopao (Ongpin St.)
- Must try: Fried siopao (Obviously!)
- Cost: Php 18 per siopao (so good, you should get two – gah, I’m craving it already!)
Tasty Dumplings (641 Norberto St.)
- Must try: Pork chop (servings are huge!)
All in all, a lovely trip and a great way to spend the day! Imagine, my friends and I spent a grand total of Php 2,640 (Php 660 each) – not bad for a food trip that served as our breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the day! Special shout-out to Justine, who served as our amazingly patient foodie tour guide! For future reference, would love to try out the restaurants listed here as well