Manila Travel Guide: Walking Binondo Food Trip
As a heritage spot in the center of Manila and the setting of the world’s oldest “Chinatown“, Binondo has also become one of the focal points of the city’s gastronomic culture. Exploring this district’s bustling streets will have you discovering a confluence of cooking traditions that use recipes handed down from generation to generation. Therefore, when one mentions the place of “Binondo”, many people equates it to an unforgettable foodie destination. So, what are you waiting for? Set out now on a culinary exploration and discover sumptuous savory gems hidden in the many nook and crannies in this Binondo Food Trip. Let’s eat!
First introduced to Filipinos by Fukienese immigrants in the early 20th century, the “Hopia“—which means “good pastry” in Hokkien—was initially made as a cheaper alternative to moon cake. Through the years, it has become a popular Filipino-Chinese delicacy staple snack food. Today, when someone asks about where to buy the best-tasting hopia? One place stands-out. And it’s Salazar Bakery.
First opened after the war in 1947, the bakery has become a go-to place for anything hopia and tikoy (Chinese New Year’s Cake). As good as their hopia and tikoy are, Salazar’s other pastry and bread products are also worth trying. We had the egg cake and it was a sweet and soft treat.
Tip: Right across is a small grocer where one can purchase traditional Chinese ingredients. We shopped for shabu-shabu balls, sauce packs, and specialty drinks.
Salazar Bakery is located at 783 Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila
Estero Fast Food
Wait, what’s with the name? Well, it was coined as such because the place literally is a row of hawker-styled stalls found here is located beside a creek or an “estero“. When you’re fancying some exotic dishes, then this is the place. Like the frog’s legs cooked in adobo, buttered, garlic, fried and sautéed.
Sadly, I am not the type of foodie, no matter how many times I go on a Binondo Food Trip. So we opted to stick to the classic favorites at Estero. Such as the Chopsuey, Salt & Pepper Pork Ribs, Calamari, Beef Brocolli, and Yang Chow Fried Rice. For a group of four diners with drinks, we only paid arond Php 1100.00, with takeaway to boot!
The only knack at this place is when the wind blows a bit stronger, it carries the foul smell of the creek. But hey, with the new clean-up program of the city of Manila, the “Estero” might have a more appealing scent soon. PLUS food is really really good so nobody really cares. Hehe.
Estero Fast Food is located at Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila
New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian Food House
Great news for plant-based eaters! Binondo is also where a much-raved vegetarian restaurant is located. The New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian Food House serves an array of vegetarian dishes cooked in the style of a variety of Filipino-Chinese viands.
For only 140 pesos, you will get a choice of three dishes, a cup rice and unlimited hot tea. They also sell many vegetarian grocery items and ingredients.
I personally enjoyed New Quan Yin Chay because it’s a testament that eating healthy can be delicious too! Loved the variety, taste, and texture, of the food served. A healthy, filling meal indeed. A definite must stop for your next Binondo Food Trip!
New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian Food House is located at 739 Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila (across Anson’s)
Café Mezzanine/Chuan Kee Restaurant
Next stop on our Binondo Food Trip is Café Mezzanine. Also dubbed as “The Fireman’s Coffee Shop“. Mostly because it supports the Binondo and Paco fire volunteers. A group generally composed of Filipino-Chinese residents of Binondo. In fact, Café Mezzanine is owned by Mr. Ube himself, Mr. Gerry Chua.
Located atop another must-eat dining place in Binondo, the Chuan Kee Restaurant, Cafe Mezzanine is popular for its CNNGo featured dish of “Soup Number 5” (made from bull’s penis and a known aphrodisiac, Php 300.00)). Another must-try here is the “Kiampong” (Php 42.00), a fried rice concocted by a Filipino-Chinese chef in Binondo. Other popular dishes include the Lechon Kawali, Adobo Egg, Lechon Paksiw, Pork Maki (Php 140.00), Special Pork Machang, Kikiam, Lomi and other noodle dishes.
Café Mezzanine is located at the 2nd floor of Chuan Kee Restaurant at 650 Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila
The Great Buddha Café (Eng Bee Tin)
A new place to add to your Binondo Food Trip map is The Great Buddha Café. Located just on the 2nd floor of Eng Bee Tin’s flagship store, The Great Buddha cafe specializes in Hong Kong Chinese cuisine and dimsum. It also houses a 1.2-ton golden buddha symbolizing happiness, plentitude, and contentment. Thus the name.
Basically, The Great Buddha Café’s menu is divided into 6 major sections: Dimsum, Claypot Rice, Roastings, Short Orders, Noodles and Congee, and Desserts and drinks. Our favorite picks would have to be the Beef Tendon Claypot with its pleasant sweet-soy flavor, the Hainanese Chicken, Soy Chicken (Php 600.00) and the HK Style Honey Asado (Php 550.00) under Roastings.
You can finish your meal with some delightful desserts and drinks such as the Golden Custard Buchi (Php 98.00), Peanut Balls (Php 128.00), and The Great Buddha Cafe’s signature Cream Cheese Nai Cha (Php 130.00).
Afterwards, shop to your heart’s content with the Eng Bee Tin store downstairs. I personally recommend getting the Custard and Ube/Cheese Hopia, Pork Floss Buns, and the Wintermelon Drink.
The Great Buddha Café is located at the 2/F, 628 Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila.
As the name suggests, their dumplings like the steamed kuchay are worth the try. Each order of 10 pieces cost Php 90.00 while fried ones are Php 99.00.
That said, be sure to also sample the other items in their menu such as the Hong Ma—a Chinese version of our Visayan humba—pork chop rice, tossed noodles, silver rolled bread.
I also personally enjoyed their bestselling Tsay Mah Pao (Php 130.00, 5 pieces).
It looks like Bola-Bola Siopao but lighter and tastier. Most probably because of the sweet-tangy sauce and the extra veggies inside.
Tasty Dumplings is located at 641 Norberto Ty Corner Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila (found just behind Binondo Church – Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz)
Dong Bei Dumplings
This no-frills hole-in-the-wall is where you can order fine-tasting dumplings… While watching how the cooks roll these Northern Chinese-style dumplings with fresh ingredients in front of you. Once finished and served, you might think the dumplings appear plain and unsavory.
But once you dig on it with your chopsticks and dip it garlic, vinegar or soy sauce, you’ll know that Dong Bei Dumplings really serves one of the best dumplings in the city. No wonder it’s one of the crowd favorites when one goes on a gastronomic Binondo Food Trip.
Dong Bei Dumplings is located at 642 Yuchengco St, Binondo, Manila
Sincerity Café and Restaurant
You might wonder how different Chinese fried chicken to Filipino fried chicken is? The answer rests on the fried chicken served at Sincerity’s Fried Chicken. Popping with flavors, juiciness and tenderness, the crunch skin of their fried chicken is made richer with a secret blend of oriental spice.
A thing that honestly, gives their chicken an exceptional taste. They also serve Oyster Cake which is served like a fried pancake filled with oysters, bean sprouts, egg, rice flour and a variety of vegetables.
Sincerity’s Fried Chicken is located at 497 Yuchengco St, Binondo, Manila. They also have another branch inside Lucky Chinatown Mall)
Entering the block-long Carvajal alley and passing by a wall of colorful street murals, you will find Quik Snack. Another foodie haven which serves a variety of homecooked meals served in most Chinese households in Binondo.
This family-owned restaurant though, is popular for its Chinese Lumpia (Php 85.00), Kikiam (Php 85.00) and the Kuchay Fried Dumplings (Php 40.00). So, don’t leave the place without ordering a plate of it. Other must trys at Quik Snak are the filling Kuchay and Chicken Pies (Php 50.00 each).
Tip: Don’t forget to take a shot with the very IG-worthy mural/wall art along Carvajal Street (as seen below). 🙂
Quik Snack is located at Carvajal Alley, Binondo, Manila
New Po Heng Lumpia
Now found in its new location along Carvajal Alley, this former lumpia place situated in an old-house in Ongpin Street still retains its family heirloom recipe. A secret to its fresh lumpia unique-tasting compared to others. Making New Po Heng Lumpia a must not miss spot when doing a Binondo Food Trip.
Here, you can order your Chinese-style lumpia while watching their cook roll it out in front of you. Their gigantic rolls are made from tofu, lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, seaweed, ground peanuts and thin lumpia wrapper. New Po Heng’s Lumpia easily drowns inside your mouth bursting with popping flavors with every bite. Each lumpia is made fresh upon order and are priced at Php 70.00 each. They’re quite big so eat it sitting down is highly recommended!
New Po Heng Lumpia is located Carvajal Alley, Binondo, Manila (a few meters from Quik Snack)
Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant
Typifying the classic sit-down Chinese restaurant devoid of any fancy interior design, Ongpin Mañosa makes up for an appealing dining ambiance with its set of savory dishes. Their “machang” is a must try. It’s basically brown glutinous rice stuffed with shiitake mushroom and pork enfolded in bamboo leaves. Meaty, savory, filling. Another signature dish is the maki or “gawgaw“. It has a savory broth topped with generous cuts of pork kasim.
Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant is located at 926 Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila
1919 Grand Cafe
Talk about a wonderful way of preserving a heritage building. To conclude our tasty Binondo Food Trip for the day, we ended up at this iconic café.
The 1919 Grand Cafe is located at the ground floor of the former HSBC Building—a 1922 Neoclassical Revival structure. It occupies two storeys with small function rooms and more seats upstairs. Adorned with elegant interior combining elements of pre-war designs with a modern industrial look, the result is one fine dandy of a dining place.
They serve an assorted flavor of pizza, pasta (check out Squid-ink pasta and pasta negra), dumplings, rice meals (baked rice calderata is for the win), chicken, ribs and steaks. Plus, they also have sweet desserts and of course a variety of coffee, tea and smoothies.
1919 Grand Cafe is located at 117 Juan Luna St, Binondo, Manila
More to Come on the Next Binondo Food Trip!
These are just some of the must-visit foodie places in a typical Binondo Food Trip that we recommend. Be sure to bookmark this page and come back for additional updates as the Hungry Travel Duo team goes back to Binondo soon to try more restaurants. Like Masuki, Ying Yang Tea House, Ho-land Hopia & Bakery, ZCT Delicious Restaurant, Shanghai Fried Siopao, Lan Zhou Mien and more.
A Night Stroll at the William A. Jones Memorial Bridge
Oh, and before we forgot, we recommend you cap off your Binondo food-binge tour with a night-walk at the re-designed Jones Bridge. Equally beautiful day and night, it connects Binondo district to Padre Burgos Avenue in Ermita.
This neo-classical bridge underwent a makeover this year with Jose Acuzar of Las Casas Filipinas heading the project. Today, beaux-arts-styled lamp posts adorns the entirety of the bridge bringing a flair of a 50’s film-noir vibe perfect for night photography.
Tip: Walk further down towards the Escolta Ferry Station and get a snap of the bridge in its full glory. That or have the iconic Postal Office as a dreamy background.
Where to Park in Binondo? How to commute?
Honestly, if it were to me, I would personally recommend commuting for a Binondo Food Trip. As streets can be small and thus parking may be limited. But if you must bring a car, your best (and safest) bet would be to park at Lucky Chinatown Mall. It’s open from 10:00 AM- 10:00 PM and would most likely cost you Php 150.00 to park the whole day.
OR… You can also park at the empty parking lot next to Jones Bridge (coming in to Binondo, just beside the original Savory). Its quite a walk (15 minutes) to Binondo Church but the spot is very ideal.
Mainly because there’s a police outpost just around the corner as well as a trusty parking attendant you can tip. Plus the spot is strategic if you plan to take some shots at the Jones Bridge at night. A spot well away from all the traffic.
The best way to commute to Binondo is via LRT-1 (Carriedo Station), a mere 10 minute walk. Or via Lawton (by bus/FX).
Have any favorites to add to this Binondo Food Trip list? Comment down below. Gong Xi Fa Cai, foodies!
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