#travelcurious Chinatown Chinese cuisine food Manila

Palatable adventure in Binondo

There’s something about Manila that lures me into exploring it. The atmosphere, perhaps?
Traversing the streets of Manila transcends a feeling of going back in time and watching the colorful culture circling the place. Despite the modern structures, moving around Manila feels like living inside a history book, seeing the historic capital described in it firsthand.
As part of my urban exploration, my friend and I visited the oldest Chinatown in the world—our very own Manila Chinatown in Binondo. Established in 1594, Manila Chinatown offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
How to get there
Well, I can only talk about how we got there, but this is still useful information.

 

From any southbound station, take the MRT and get off at Taft Avenue station. Then, take the LRT and alight at Carriedo station. We walked from the station going to Binondo, but I’m sure there are jeepneys headed that way. We just navigated the route through Google Maps and decided to walk since it’s a short distance. It took us 7 minutes or less to reach our first stop.
Ying Ying Restaurant
It was lunch time when we arrived and the two-story diner was full. There’s nothing spectacular about the interior. In fact, it’s akin to a school cafeteria. But it being jam-packed hinted that an exciting feast awaited us. The intervals between people coming out and going in were short.
We ordered braised beef noodles, fried pork dumplings, shrimp hakaw, and black gulaman. While waiting for our food, we helped ourselves with the house tea that sat waiting for hungry souls on the table. It was newly brewed, as the tea pot was hot.
A few minutes later, food was served. And indeed, it was an appetizing meal!
Braised Beef Noodles

Shrimp Hakaw
Wai Ying
We were hoping to eat Xiao Long Bao (pork wonton with savory soup inside), but it isn’t in Ying Ying’s menu, so we headed to Wai Ying after we chowed down on our food.
Wai Ying is another go-to restaurants when it comes to wonton and dumplings. Unfortunately, they’re not serving Xiao Long Bao either, so we ended up eating dessert instead. Their coffee jelly and buko pandan are superb!
We did not give up on our quest. We continued looking for a restaurant serving the savory dish. We tried our luck at Dong Bei Dumblings on Yuchengco St. The food joint has been receiving raves online, so it piqued our interest. Sure enough, the food joint serves Xiao Long Bao.
But there was one more problem: it was jam-packed and we were on the waiting list. And it seemed that we wouldn’t be able to get settled in the next half hour.
Chuan Kee
Since we didn’t want to waste our time waiting, we decided to buy hopia and other food items we can take home at Eng Bee Tin on Ongpin St.
After paying at the counter, we used the toilet located on the second floor. When I came back downstairs, my friend told me that the food joint adjacent to Eng Bee Tin had Xiao Long Bao in their menu. The food joint which we thought to be Café Mezzanine is in fact called Chuan Kee. They serve 10 pcs. of Xiao Long Bao for P170.
We knew at that point that our food trip in Binondo was drawing to a close since we had already found the highlight of our palatable adventure.
We placed our order, waited, and presto! Our eyes widened in glee as though we were presented with a precious gift.
We feasted on the juicy meaty goodness of each piece and savored the food trip’s finale one Xiao Long Bao at a time.
Xiao Long Bao
Expenses
The best thing about dining out in Binondo is, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get your fill. With less than a thousand pesos, your tummy will be happy. Here’s the breakdown of our expenses:
Expense per person
Ying Ying
P227.50
Wai Ying
P60.00
Chuan Kee
P138.50
Total
P426.00
You might spend more than that depending on your appetite, but that amount, I can say, is enough to satisfy your cravings.
Now I know what else lures me into exploring Manila: the sumptuous feast that you can find in places that marked our country’s history and have become part of our heritage.
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