Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Binondo Food Pre-Walk: A Gastronomic Introduction

Fresh from an inspiring talk on the cultural legacies of Manila, me and my friends decided to take a sampler treat of the Binondo Food Walk made famous by Mr. Ivan Dy of Old Manila Walks. I called it a pre-walk since number 1: it was decided on impulse but we also wanted to take that Old Manila Walk tours someday; number 2: we got hungry and we called our Chinese travel buddy to give us some leads; and number 3: we're here in Manila anyway so why not?

Binondo was established in 1584 by Spanish Governor Lius Perez Dasmarinas. It’s the Chinatown of Manila and once was the center of commerce prior to World War II.  With Manila levelled during the war, commercial establishments has since moved elsewhere; but other than the hardy Chinese still working and living there in Binondo, one thing remained strong, famous and reminiscent of its old glory: the quintessential Chinese food. The dishes, samplers, treats and delicacies that wafts deliciously in the air reminds you that it’s a quarter past 3 and it’s meryenda time!

Our first stop: Dong Bei Dumpling at Yuchengco corner Tytana Sts. just behind the old Binondo church. This very small eatery had been described as a small, unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant. #Dongbei #dumplings

Small yet the place offers many mouth-watering treats. We ordered the pork dumplings as recommended by our friend. #dongbei #dumplings

The dumplings here are prepared in the resto where you can see them. Its also a good thing because you can be assured that everything you order are prepared fresh. #dongbei #dumplings

I wonder what this will become, is it the pork dumplings? the xiao pao? #dongbei #dumplings
The roll of dough was flattened meticulously to get that thin dumpling wrapper consistency, then filled with pork, shrimps, etc, fried or steamed....the list goes on...#dongbei #dumplings

The fresh dumplings looked good enough to eat already....don't worry, hungry as I was, I waited for the steamed version. An order consisted of 14 dumplings.  #dongbei #dumplings
Steamed pork dumplings with chives....this was what we ordered. Well, I'm not really a dumpling person, I don't like the taste of extenders I do not know. But this? This...was beyond words. Not a foodie, so all I could pathetically come up with is DELICIOUS in many tones, enunciations, intonations, modulations, pitches and cadences! Sigh, I became a fan! I will be back! And this was just the start of our pre-walk... #dongbei #dumpling

Our next stop was Wai Ying Fastfood at Benavides St. Our friend recommended its tai pao or the mean, large siopao! #waiying #taipao
It started looking like a very Chinese dinner as I watched through the window. That duck and other sweet meats displayed there paired with the hot, piping mami noodles on the side made me want to order my favorite yang chow fried rice for a really, stuffy-yummy five-course Chinese feast! But hey, our objective here was the tai pao, so I reined in my horses.... #waiying #siopao

It started with a hot glass of clear washed our palates from the tasty aftertaste of Dong Bei, prepared our tongue for another gastronomic surprise #waiying #siopao
This is not a siopao, this is a tai pao. The difference, as far as I saw it, was the size. But like an energy bar, its power-packed with different fillings, from asado, salted egg, steamed pork and who knew what else. 'Twas not as big as a plate, just a little bigger than the jumbo-sized siopao. It tasted great, better than what I can buy from the foodcarts. Its very filling, very tasty but really more than enough for me. If you go here, better come hungry. #waiying #taipao
They sliced it already so it can be shared. The steaming tai pao is already dinner for two. #waiying #siopao

We also ordered siomai and hakaw but what I kept coming back to was the tai pao. I already had one of these so I was not really surprised. It was delicious. period. Loved it? yes. Will be back? of course! #waiying #siopao

We passed by this carinderia-like store on our way back to Ongpin St.. No we didn't eat here but I was amused at the mini-cauldron pots containing the food - terracotta style. Now that's uncommon these days. #ongpin
Our travel buddy's list contained these words: freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. Wow! that was good advertising. We really looked forward to that freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice (so much that all we had so far was the hot tea from Wai Ying, not even water because we looked forward to that juice!).  #sugarcane

The Juice....was nowhere! ha! maybe we were lost or they went home already. So we just contented ourselves with the freshly-peeled-sugarcane-cane that can be bought from carts along Ongpin St.. Well, to spare my delicate teeth I gladly donated my share with a smile and a thought "Happy chomping!" #sugarcane
Next stop: Fried siopao along Ongpin St. It was just a store not a restaurant with a lot of food goodies other than the fried siopao. #friedsiopao

The fried siopao were already packed by singles, sixes or dozens. It was a regular sized siopao with a slight sear in its underside, proof that its fried, not steamed. #friedsiopao
I wanted to taste this, Machang, a glutinous rice preparation with meat filling at the center and wrapped in banana leaves dimsum style. But, I was getting really full that time and we still had one more stop to go. Well, much as I would like to nibble on my small fried siopao, I just took it home as pasalubong to my loved one with a line prepared that went "Dahling, I intentionally bought this for you! smack!" #friedsiopao
Last stop for the night: MaƱosa Restaurant along Ongpin St. A bit farther from the church, though good for burning all the food we ate earlier. Earlier on, those were appetizers and snacks. This place was for dinner. Our friend recommended its Maki and Makimi for a savoury finish. #manosa #makimi

Maki, a thick heavily flavored soup poured over breaded pork chunks with leaks to top it off. It has a full flavor, heavy in the gut too. Warning: need more gut space for these, would also need rice. #maki
Makimi was another dish we ordered, same with Maki on the soup and pork chunks but served with noodles. #makimi

It was already late when we gave up, too full to have another look on the list. Thankfully realizing that the Maki was the last recommended stop. Oh well, what a tasteful introduction to the Binondo Food Trip. We have craved to do this for the longest time. Finally, we had our round.
I guess every foodie and blogger in town already had this experience in their archives, I am still thankful that I got to do mine. Well, this was a pre-walk. Next time I wanted to do the real walk, know more about the places we went to, their history, their success stories and other food stops we never knew. Next time I hope to join the tours of Old Manila Walks with my friends to learn more, to experience more, to discover more, to eat more, to gain weight.....nah! let's stick to the discovering and experiencing.....

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post. Till next time. chow!
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