12 Tips on How to Thrift Shopping at Dapitan Arcade and Kanlaon Street

It is Christmas season once again.  One way to get best value for your money is to visit some thrift market or bazaars in Metro Manila.


shells and shell crafts


makeshift tents and stall line the sidewalk area

One of the best places to visit aside from Divisoria is Dapitan Arcade and adjacent streets like Dapitan Street and Kanlaon Street.


assorted nutcrackers

The area is known for the export overrun items, handicrafts items, Christmas decor and some cheap China made items.


Christmas decors are the most popular items for sale

Here are 12 Important Tips on How to Thrift Shopping


plastic poinsettias flowers and Christmas decor balls may also be found in other market places


Christmas village complete with lights and accessories (probably made in China or Taiwan)

1.) Try to scout other well-known areas beforehand. – Some items might also be sold at far more expensive or cheaper prices.


mid-century house with some make shift stalls selling figurines and decors

2. ) Know what items you need. – One must have a ready list of items you needed at home or items that you want to give away as gifts. Try to make a short list of items. Some people who do not have a list, sometimes end up buying more items which they do not need.


different kind of figurines, candle holder and display items- most are made from hard resin or fiberglass from China.


suki market

3.)Suitable parking space is limited- Parking space is rather limited, try to bring 1 or 2 more people for extra helping hands. Try to spare some loose change for watch your car boys.


4.)Try to Scout the area- The area also includes some side streets and make-shift tents before making any purchases.


5.) Be Early – Try to shop early, Some stall holders would even give ” Buena Mano” or discount to early shoppers.


Some of the figurines are made locally

6.) Changes in Style and Season- Some of the items being sold at the Dapitan Arcade and adjacent streets are export overruns. These correspond to seasonal changes in other countries and fashion trends. Hence some styles and decor might not be suitable.


baskets made from water hyacinth, terracotta pots and containers


7.) Always be Cheerful – Having a sunny disposition makes everyone happy.  Getting their business card and knowing the stall location would be a great help for future transaction.


Christmas tree made from local materials

8.) Wear Light Clothes- Most of the stalls are located on outdoor settings. Unlike malls and trade bazaars had air condition units. Try to bring face towels and water bottles.


Christmas parols made from local capiz shells while some decors at the back are made from China.


wood crafts and holders

9.) Not all items are export overruns- Some items are imported from Thailand, China, Taiwan, Indonesia and other countries. One must have a keen eye and learn to differentiate the items for sale. Some may also be available in Divisoria or Quiapo.


nativity scene


religious statues, crucifixes and figurines

10.) Learn to Haggle – Haggling is part of the experience.



11.) Check items that may have cracks, minor damages and imperfection. -Try to inspect the items for some imperfections and dents.


Santa Clause

12.) Buying in Bulk- Some stalls would give extra discount on bulk orders.

Visit Dapitan Arcade at 37 Dapitan Corner, Kanlaon Street, Laurges, Quezon City




Food Tasting at Tra Vinh Restaurant in Quezon City

N S. Amoranto ( Retiro street)  corner Cordillera street , Quezon City , Philippines

The first visit of this restaurant was a little over a year ago , When we took some sample of their Vietnamese halo-halo around mid-November, 2015 after some bargain hunting at the nearby Dapitan Arcade .

Last February 2016,  we visited the nearby Suki Market to buy some native kakanins and sushi sa bilao , We made a side trip and went to order their famed Pho .  Since the two visits were just coincidental , the author did not brought any camera at that time and did not make any reviews. This is very accessible to all forms of public transportation and is near Lourdes Church , a landmark of within the vicinity . Banawe , Retiro and nearby street is considred as a food street haven of Quezon City .

Tra Vinh Restaurant 

The restaurant is located at the ground floor of a commercial building along N. S Amoranto ( formerly called Retiro street )  corner Cordillera street .  Parking slots are limited  ,since the space outside the commercial building is not big .

dining area

The restaurant is quite spacious with a sitting capacity of between 100 to 130 people at any given time. But for foodies , this is a MUST visit place.

History : 

The original restaurant was founded over 20 years ago by Mr. Van Chien Ho founded Tra Vinh restaurant in Western Australia . Its authentic Vietnamese flavor instantly captured the taste of Australian market . He earned a lot of accolades which includes best and freshest produce.   The Philippine branch had opened about 18 months ago serving authentic Vietnamese dishes. There are some minor changes in a couple of menu due to unavailability of ingredients in the local market like the cat fish soup which was replaced with lapu-lapu fish .

  Goi Cuon Tom Thit or Vietnamese spring roll ( the spring roll wrapper is made from grounded rice flour ) The spring roll had prawns and pork , Ideal for 1 to 2 person sharing . We prefer the other dipping sauce .

There are different variants to cater the different palate , Special prawn and pork at Php 180 , Prawn 2 rolls Php 160, pork 2 rolls Php 160 , Vegetarian -3 rolls ( Php 160) 

Fried Vietnamese Spring roll ( Vegetarian style)  with vinegar.

The restaurant also takes pride of using as much as possible traditional ingredients .

Banh Xeo is literally called “Sizzling cake ” is  a type of Vietnamese pancake or omelette  with batter filling  comprise of shrimps , rice flour , egg , onion, stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, diced green onion, and  mung bean sprouts ( togue) . This is served with fresh lettuce ,mustard leaves , mint leaves and basil leaves and  dipped in a sweet and sour diluted fish sauce.

The mustard and lettuce leaves serves as the wrapper . This dish can be shared between 2 to 3 people. Php 250 ( There is an additional fee for additional 3 lettuce leaves )

Salt and Pepper Tiger Prawns

Salt and Pepper Tiger Prawns were cooked just perfect , The use of slat and pepper enhances the flavor of the prawns and topped with fresh slices of spring onion and lemon slice.  Ideal for sharing between 2 to 4 persons. Php 599

Canh Chua Ca – It is a Vietnamese catfish soup which had a sweet, sour and a little bit  spicy . However due to unavailability of the cat fish species in the Philippines , the proprietor had to substitute the fish with our local lapu-lapu /grouper fish  / garoupa . Customers had an option of between flat noodles or rice.

This serving is Australian style which is good for sharing between two to four people .  This dish is quite healthy as it also uses fresh mung bean sprouts ( togue) long variety , upland swamp spinach ( kangkong ) Ipomea aquatica .  The upland kangkong is more popularly called Chinese kangkong. Chinese kangkong or upland kangkong plant habit is usually planted on fertile soil and plantation, unlike the ordinary ones which is planted in canals and ponds , the ordinary kangkong tend to absorb water pollutants.

The stalks also tend to get soggy after just a few minutes of soaking . Hence , it is not use in the soup. The stalks are cut into lengthwise for added presentation , okra / ladies finger cut into longitudinal section ,sliced parsley, chopped coriander leaves , mung bean sprouts ( togue)  chopped chilli peppers (optional for added spice) This is ideal for sharing between 4 to 6 people.  Php 999

Prawn Pomelo Salad 

Prawn Pomelo Salad – Freshly julienne carrots and vegetables,  fresh tiger prawns , freshly sourced pomelo from Davao , peanuts, herbs, species together with special Tra Vinh dressing and Vietnamese prawn crackers  .Php 240 per serving , Ideal for 2 to 3 people sharing .

Prawn Mango Salad 

Prawn Mango Salad -Freshly julienne carrots and vegetables  , fresh tiger prawns, freshly sliced mango , peanuts, herbs and species together with special Tra Vinh dressing and Vietnamese prawn crackers. Php 250 per serving , Ideal for 2 to 3 people sharing .

Special Tra Vinh Soup

It has two flavor of chicken and seafood broth with pork slices, fresh prawns, slices of squid, sliced Singaporean fish balls , pork liver slices, mushroom slices, quail eggs, vegetables, slices of cashews and your selection of either rice or noodles.  I particularly liked the Singaporean fish balls , This is the one that is compatible with any soup .

Spicy Combination Beef Soup

Spicy Beef Combination Soup -The Pho had beef broth as based and cooked beef shoulder slices, raw slices of New Zealand Rib eye, Taiwanese beef balls , beef tripe with side vegetables like mung beans sprouts ( togue ), shredded  violet colored cabbage , basil and topped with onion leeks . The soup has 16 traditional herbs and spices. The soup can be shared between 2 to 3 persons.  (one can put sliced lemon or try to add chopped fresh chilies for added spice , although it is optional )

Tra Vinh special ice tea home brewed with lotus leaves

This is a special treat to those who like ice tea and lotus . Lotus leaves are dried up and added to the mixture giving the ice tea a different taste.( 1 liter)  Php 65 for sharing between 2 to 4 people.


There are several types of shaved ice desserts which one can choose from . One must try everything especially the ones with preserved Longan fruit and Lotus seeds.  ( Highly recommended ) Compared with the local halo-halo , the Tra Vinh halo-halo is not overly sweet. There are 6 kinds of Vietnamese halo-halo to choose from Dried Longan with Lotus Seed , Sweet Vietnam Jelly , Special Mixed Beans, Jelly Lychee , Jelly Longan and Iced Chendol   Php 100 per order.

Coffee Jelly with Ice Cream 

The coffee jelly is made from coffee granules mix in a jelly  topped with vanilla ice cream .  The ice cream was made by Tra Vinh restaurant . One must also try their ice coffee and Vietnamese coffee which can be shared between 2 persons.

Note : Prices subject to change without prior notice. Please check prices with the restaurant before visiting or ordering.

Full Disclosure : The author was invited along with several food critique and reviewers to give an honest review hosted by ZomatoPH 

Tra Vinh Face Book

Address: Unit 3, 109 NS Amoranto Corner Cordillera Barangay, Maharlika, Banawe, Quezon City

Contact : 724-1718

Operation: 10:00 am to 11:00 pm Everyday

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