Walk with Chan : Special Chinese New Year 2015 Tour

Chinatown , Manila – Philippines

 Santa Cruz church group photo

Walk with Chan in partnership with NGO groups like Binondo Fireworks and Firecrackers Lovers Association , photography groups, freelance media , bloggers , food and cultural hoppers went for a whole day tour of several important and historical places  which encompasses Santa Cruz, Binondo, San Nicolas and Divisoria areas.

Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz

We started the day quite early , most of the participants arrived at past 6:00am at the fountain area within Plaza Santa Cruz, We saw some photography group and families that are waiting for their tour around Chinatown.  The largest contingent was from Novaliches , Quezon City which numbered around a dozen participants , while there are some participants which came all the way from Nueva Ecija,  Cavite , Pasay , Parañaque , Makati , Pasig , Manila and Rizal province. There were 50 plus participants from different age group.

Golden Pharao ,  Chicken Plant , Rabbit’s Foot, Golden Chicken Fern, Lamb’s Foot

 Local peddlers selling them at a few hundred of pesos for unsuspecting buyer – They call them with different names  . They are being sold as good luck plants which are gathered from the forest ( Mount Banahaw and Mount Cristobal in Quezon province  ) according to the seller .  This fern species is critically endangered species and is found between 200 meters to about 1, 600 meters in altitude.  If grown improperly and grown in Metro Manila conditions , This fern species will surely meet its untimely death !

Cibotium barometz – This is medicinal and throughout its range some shamans , witch doctors , native people believes that it can ward -off evil spirits , hence a lot of them seems to e sold during auspicious times like Chinese New Year or Christmas season. This fern is slow growing and due to forest destruction and illegal collecting for the past hundred of years cause its dwindling population .

Range:

China, Taiwan , Nepal ,  Indonesia (from Java to Sumatra), Japan, North East India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines .

Website: http://www.forestferns.co.uk/tree-ferns/cibotium/cibotium-barometz

The common Chinese names for this tree fern species include ‘Jinmao Gou’ or ‘Jinmao Gouji’ (Golden Hair Dog Fern, Scythian lamb, Golden Fu Dog Fern ), in Guangdong province it is called “Huanggoutou” (Yellow Dog’s Head Fern). In Malaysia the fern is known as Penawar jambi, bulu pusi, bulu empusi. The common European names for this fern include the ‘Woolly Fern’, Tartar for ‘lamb’, the vegetable lamb’.

ordinary house plants become extraordinary ” Good Luck Plant” with red ribbons and nice plastic pots

It seems that it is very interesting mix of Philippine festivities like ati-atihan,  fire-blowers ,  people in vampire costumes, mardi-gras dancers and among others.

 fire-blowers

 The fire- blowers  are accompanied with loud banging noises ( mardi-gras beat)  are also an added attraction to the event. They held a small envelopes ( Ang Pao) and solicit money or goods from the spectators, tourists and even shop owners.

radish cake

We passed -by several places like Ongpin, T. Pinpin , Sabino Padilla, Salazar street then Benavidez site of our favorite Maki Place by Mañosa.

Maki Place

Lucky Chinatown Mall

The group slowly went to Lucky Chinatown Mall for a quick stop over ,It started raining before we left  the mall .

Ramada Manila Central

Some of the participants eventually break-away and toured the nearby Seng Guan temple just a few blocks away and then promise to return by lunch time at Ramada Manila Central.

Ms. Sydneylyn B. Tan- Business Development Specialist ( Ramada Manila Central)

Our group was warmly received by Ms. Sydneylyn B. Tan which explained the Emperor’s buffet promo . It was the grand launching of the promo  ( Luna Deck) and the hotel is starting to offer them on February 20, 21, 22 , 2015 at News Cafe Mezzanine and all sundays starting March until December 2015 including declared holidays .

participants and guests

 This is the time of the year that all restaurants within Chinatown district are filled to the capacity . We opt to book this place as this had a commanding view of the Binondo and San Nicolas district . Security is also tight and visitors had more time to relax and have some time bonding with each other.

desserts

There were exciting array of western, asian , fusion desserts fruits,  white fungus with dates, lotus seeds ( supposed to be good for a person’s skin and digestive system)    almond jelly , emperor’s salad , dimsum, bite size tikoy , muffins, cookies

pork crispy lechon

Another must try is the pork crispy lechon , Unlike other lechon in other restaurants, The skin  is very crispy and the meat is tender. It is also accompanied with sauce. We were fortunate to take photos of the food before it was chopped-up and eaten.  In few minutes , It was GONE !!!!

chicken feet with tausi

stir fry broccoli with fish fillet

noodle station

glutinous rice cake , firecrackers , umbrella and Chinese hat

 I was not able to taste all the foods offered by the hotel ( downside of being one of the organizers of the tour)  ,  We had a short program and need to entertain some guests .    . Maybe next time.

Website: http://ramadamanilacentral.com/

Panciteria Macanista y Buen Gusto- photo courtesy : Binondo archives

The old photos shows the glory days of the old panciteria ( noodle house) . This was mentioned in the El Filibusterismo – Chapter 25

Panciteria Macanista y Buen Gusto crowd along San Fernando street, Binondo

 The old panciteria ( circa 2015) building is almost in a sorry state and it was now owned by a Filipino-Chinese businessman who plan to convert and demolish the house into a building .  This is also a popular debate on several facebook pages and forum site on the real value of the old house. Sadly,  very few of the participants  knew the place even existed .

Wikipedia : http://tl.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_filibusterismo

lion dancers

The group toured parts of San Nicolas district and before 4:00pm , The group decided  to took a passenger jeepneys plying San Nicolas -Escolta route .

New Toho Food House

Antigua Toho or New Toho Food restaurant is considered as the oldest still existing Filipino- Chinese restaurant within Manila’s Chinatown- the store is located along Tomas Pinpin street near Dasmariñas street.  The restaurant was established in 1866 and was even mentioned in Jose Rizal’s -Noli Me Tangere novel .

pork asado

 Pork asado is a MUST try when you want to eat at the restaurant. It is always out of stock and it must be pre-ordered days or even weeks in advance, especially on special events and occasions.  It had a smokey flavor and had a right texture .

spring rolls

lumpiang Shanghai is another popular dish in this place

Pancit canton

 Pancit canton with pork liver, liempo , carrots, beans, shrimps , chinese cabbage

Chinese kikiam ( or Que -Kiam / Que Keng )

Another MUST TRY , Basic ingredients includes ingredients minced ground pork ( giniling na baboy),  diced carrots, shrimps ,finely chopped red onion ,minced garlic, chopped green onions or chives, minced Chinese mushroom, diced water chestnuts wrapped in soybean ( tao peh ) . Its special sauce ( spicy and non-spicy ) are to crave for.

participants ( photo credit: Mr. Ralph Soriano )

We then distribute the t-shirts which was sponsored by Binondo Fireworks and Firecrackers Lovers Organization and printed by Nick Printing

Nick Printing Services: 0923-375-5851/ 099-8615-76-90

The group took its final leg walking around Ongpin, Sabino Padilla, Yuchengco , Teodora Alonzo and Zacateros street.

Zacateros street could be derived from Spanish word for the one who works with hay either by cutting or selling it. We finished  the tour at the temple , ending our full day of tour.

HoCha- a traditional mami house on the block

Ho- Cha Mami House and Restaurant first started its operation three years ago at a corner lot located in Katipunan road corner King George street near the Christ the King of the Universe Parish within the Kingspoint Subdivision in Barangay Bagbag , Novaliches , Quezon City .

Ho Cha Mami house and restaurant

Ho Cha is a Hookien- Chinese term for good to eat .  The mobile mami push cart style vending is similar to any  mami vendor in the city . It’s first clientele were the ordinary tricycle drivers, taxi drivers,  joggers ,  sunday church goers , passers-by and ordinary folks which lived nearby .  There are only 2 type of beef menu (way back  then) ordinary beef mami and special beef mami ( with  hard boiled eggs ) .   Business operations  started small with  stainless steel noodle pushcart,  a handful of  kitchen equipment, bowls ,mono-block chairs, tables ,spoon and fork   .

beef mami  push cart style service

According to one of the faithful patron of the restaurant  “Gusto namin  humihigop ng mainit na beef mami ” , We wanted to sip hot beef mami. Compared to instant noodles, this had all the original ingredients including beef stock , beef  meat , spring onions and traditional mami served the fast-food way!

Satisfied customers started to bring in more customers, by the word of mouth and personal advertising of their friendly proprietors  ,  More and more people became loyal clientele . Another reason for the expansion of their customer base  was the  store is  strategically located within the main thoroughfare (short-cut route ) from  Mindanao Avenue to  Bayan – Novaliches town .

Soon after-wards, the proprietors decided to rent the small  commercial space ( former sari-sari store space) and ventured into opening a carinderia- style restaurant serving Filipino- Chinese cuisine like adobo, Chinese kikiam Que Kiam , orange chicken , siopao , Yang Chow fried rice, adobong pata tim , pancit bihon , lumpiang shanghai  among others.

Now ,this mami house can  add the growing list of  some local celebrities , staffs and crews of giant television networks to the lists of people who ate  in this   restaurant.

Pictures of their visit and acquaintances with the owner were posted in one corner of the store (  picture souvenir corner )  TV channel 5 comedy show Lokomoko High and WOW Mali used to film their restaurant . These  gag shows  features different comedy sketches, spoofs, and even musical numbers that will tickle the funny bone of viewers, young and old alike.

The store had also adopted a unique logo with Chinese character and a Chinese man in thumbs -up with chopstick  .  Now , the home- style restaurant had 4 branches located within Metro Manila like in Tondo , Novaliches and a concessionaire store in Pure Gold – Commonwealth branch.

The proprietor told the author that Ho Cha is soon to open franchising to interested parties and also accepts catering and pack meals packages for delivery .

HO CHA Mami House and Restaurant

Location: Katipunan Avenue corner King George street ( near Christ the King of the Universe Parish , Kingspoint Subdivision, Barangay Bagbag, Novaliches , Quezon City

Store Hours: Monday to Saturday 6:00am to 7:00pm

Contact Information: (+632) 440-85-69

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