Manila Chinatown: Binondo Food Crawl with Ish Meets World

Ish, Leah, Marl and Kiting braved the late summer heat to explore the heart of Manila’s Chinatown a.k.a. Binondo. Everyone knows that when you’re in Binondo, it’s either a shopping spree or a FOOD TRIP! Check out which popular Binondo eateries were sampled alongside a quick documentation of a harrowing PNR train ride. Enjoy!

  1. Dong Bei Dumplings: I must say, the dumplings were fresh and cheap. They were good but I wouldn’t say that they were extraordinary. The best part about eating here is watching the ladies making the dumplings right by the door. Apart from the customary kuchay dumplings, the biggest hit in our group was the fried pancake. I think the crispy texture made it unique compared to the steamed dumplings that can be had elsewhere. The Xiao Long Bao was meh. It was bland for my taste and didn’t really stand out against the other items on the menu.
    Freshly-made dumplings
    Fried Stuffed Pancake

    The food was satisfactory and very affordable. However, I think they need to level up. I know that the “quaint” ambiance is a selling point but there’s no need to have mismatched plastic chairs and a generally run-down appearance.

    Location: 642 Yuchengo Street, Binondo, Manila

  2. Eng Bee Tin: Now, here’s an example of a place that knows how to evolve with the times. Even though hopia is one of the most old school street snacks from Chinatown, Eng Bee Tin has taken it into the 21st century with modern packaging, new innovative flavors and brand new stores. The foil-wrapped treats now have ube and custard variants among other new iterations of the well-loved hopia. Apart from these, the place also serves hot chinese meals and pre-packed ready-to-eat food items like kikiam and camaron. As a true testament to its evolution, Eng Bee Tin products are also available in many grocery stores and in mall kiosks across the city.

    Hopia Haul
  3. New Po-Heng Lumpia House: I’m a huge fan of fresh lumpia. I would eat it as often as I could so I was not too optimistic about this one. I knew I had high standards when it comes to fresh lumpia so I just went in with an open mind. Lo and behold! I was pleasantly surprised by the great textures and flavors of the lumpia served at the New Po-Heng Lumpia House. The fresh, crispy vegetables were enhanced by the crunchy peanuts and garlic. The real star was the thick, sweet sauce that I could not help but pile onto my lumpia. among all of the things that we tried on this food crawl, this is the one that I am looking forward to having again. If I would find any fault in it, I would change the wrapper into the softer egg wrapper that’s usually used in fresh lumpia. The one they used here was a bit tough like an uncooked version of the one used for fried lumpiang Shanghai.
    New Po-Heng Lumpia House

    Apart from the food, the restaurant also sits in the interior of a building that has a quaint little courtyard.



    Location: 531 Uysubin Building, Quintin Paredes Street, Binondo, Manila

  4.  Sincerity Restaurant: This place is already a household name. The Sincerity Fried Chicken has a reputation of its own. I have tried this before and I must say that I like it a lot. This is partly because it has a unique flavor that sets it apart from your usual fried chicken. The spices that they add give sit a sweet tinge, which I like a lot. However, one of my friends wasn’t a big fan. If you are not into sweet meats like tocino and other similar items, maybe you won’t like this so much. another popular item is the oyster pancake, which brings me back to the streets of Taiwan. I would not mind coming here again.
    The famous Sincerity Fried Chicken

    Location: 497 E.T. Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila

Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

5. Shanghai Fried Siopao: I love asado siopao very much. I never eat the bola-bola version if I have a choice so I think I came to this place with a lopsided opinion. Their fried siopao is filled with what could be categorized as a version of the bola-bola pao so I was immediately on the wrong side of the fence.

This is also another place which is similar to Dong Bei in that I think it needs to evolve.  They could perhaps start by requiring the staff to be in uniform while handling the food out in the open and in plain sight to for the customers to see. It’s not appetizing to see your food being handled by guys in basketball jerseys and flip flops. On the upside, the siopao were warm and freshly made. They tasted quite good even if they were not filled with my preferred barbecue pork.

Overall, I would also say that I would probably choose toasted siopao over this. That one is toaster all around unlike this one which is only fried at the bottom like a gyoza.

Store Facade
Open kitchen at Shanghai Fried Sioipao

Location: Sabino Padilla St, Santa Cruz, Manila, Metro Manila

6. SaLido Restaurant: By the time we arrived here, we were already too full to enjoy a full meal. However, we heard that the place is famous for its coffee. I had an iced latte while my friends enjoyed a classic hot brew. While the coffee was good, it was nothing to write home about. I looked at the menu and it seems like they serve all the usual Chinese classics. I’m sure that the food is good but I must say, the place needs a total renovation. Old school charm is one thing but this place is just old and simply over the hill. It feels to me like the kind of place my grandfather would have a coffee spiked with brandy with his fellow WW2 veterans talking about the glory of yesteryears.

Location: 839 Ongpin Street, Santa Cruz, Manila

That completes the food tour but we also went around for some sightseeing. The Binondo church was a nice, refreshing red spot right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Chinatown.

Binondo Church as seen from the central square

While many places in Binondo seem to be stuck in the early 20th century (or even before that to be honest), my friends and I were very happy to also see some solid signs of progress and modernization.

We tried out the new electric tricycles that proved to be a real treat. They were cheap, (50 per person from the church to Tutuban PNR station) spacious, quiet and brand new!

If you ever find yourself in this part of town, please patronize this mode of transport. the drivers were very cordial and the ride was comfortable, hassle free and environment friendly.

The same could not be said about the harrowing PNR train ride that we took back to Makati. Oh my GOD Never again! But that’s a story for another time. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, read about my little day trip around old Manila (Intramuros, Luneta etc) while on a layover with my friend, Amber:

Read Also: Amber’s Manila Day Tour: “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” With Ish Meets World