Binondo Food Wok Tour

dragon dance beside Binondo Basilica

The oldest and most important festival in China is the Spring Festival. Better known as the Chinese New Year, it is a time for celebration for millions of Chinese all over the world. The Spring Festival celebrates the Earth coming to life and the beginning of plowing and planting.

fruits strung in wire with  red ribbons and red envelope

The Chinese use a calendar which places the festival on the first lunar day of the first lunar month.

Thus, the date of the Spring Festival changes each year. The new year in the 12-year cycle Chinese calendar is the Year of the Metal Tiger, beginning February 14, 2010.

Chinese seller of various curio stuffs in Ongpin street

Last February 15, 2010 (monday)  a day after the Chinese New Year, the group composed of Mr. George Yao , Ms. Neptune Pittman, Ms. Marilois  Estrella  , Ms. Gloria Razon, Ms. Virgie Neo, Ms. Catherine King, Ms.Leslie Kennedy ,Ms. Lina Gueco , Mr. Ray Ong and myself braced ourselves into a day of food tripping , shopping , culture and history hopping in one of the oldest Chinatown in the world.

The group immediately went into a buying spree at the Carvajal    wet and dry street market .

The planned trip was a last minute preparation, initiated by PHS dynamic lakwatsa committee head Tita Glo Razon .

We met at the PHS office at the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation at around 10:00 a.m. and as time passed by. The group finally agreed to meet at Carvajal Street near the famed Binondo church (Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo Ruiz).

The group went to find fresh produce like seaweeds, fruits, fresh flowers, vegetables, Chinese dried goods, etc…

dried Hemerocallis sp. or Day lilies

The flowers of some species are edible and are used in  Chinese and Asian  cuisine. They are sold (fresh or dried). This particular dried flower is popularly sold as ” bulaklak ng saging ”  and is used in various cuisine from Pata Tim, soup , adobo.

To the right is a wide alley of mixed shops, drugstores, jewelery shops and restaurants, but by the end is a lowly hidden shop by the name of Diao Eng Chay. It has never transferred to another building since its establishment almost 50 years ago.

Then the group went to the famous Diao Eng Chay – Chinese Deli or popularly known as DEC , the store is located at 845 to 847 Salazar Street , Binondo , Manila among its top favorite are its hopia, huat ke, heart shaped tikoy among others.

tikoy in various shapes , sizes and prices

Before , going to another convenient store, some of the tour members saw Ms. Vangie Go wearing red dress and buying some pasalubong at the nearby Shin Ton Yon store.

Shin Ton Yon store located at 825 brgy .296 Salazar Street , Binondo – this store is known for its deep friend spring rolls, lumpiang shanghai, nori squid balls,  pork asado, pork, chicken and beef floss .

New Victory Trading Store , this store is located in 754 Ongpin street and is known for  Wedding or Ting Hun items,  lucky charms, Feng Shui items,  mahjong sets, vases, trophy, glass items etc..

Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant

We walked towards Sabino Padilla Street ( formerly known as Gandara) and went to Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant . The restaurant is located at 807 Sabino Padilla street in Binondo and with the help of our gracious host Mr. Ray Ong ordered about a dozen of the restaurant specialty .

group enjoying a hearty lunch

Some of the notable dishes served  were the steamed beef with garlic, potato salad,tofu with century egg,  oyster cake, mustard fried rice, fried tomato rice ,  pancit guisado ,pancit bihon , sweet and sour mushroom soup , sauteed chicken gizzard and their service tea .

After the sumptuous lunch, the tour pack went to nearby fried siopao store in Ongpin while some of the members bought several packs of dimsums as pasalubongs.

the group also went to a nearby tofu factory

Eng Ho Bakery is located 628 to 630 Teodora Alonzo Street , Sta. Cruz Binondo , Manila and is famous for its chiffon cake, steam cake, mocha star cake, huat que, hopia and its mango flavored tikoy. Most of the group went into buying  spree after some brief introduction on the specialty of this store.

heart- shaped mango flavored- tikoy

steam cake

huat que

Marland Cake and Pastries is located at the corner of Soler street and Teodora Alonzo street  sells other popular Filipino – Chinese delicacies such as hopia, ang pao. Compared to other bakeries around Chinatown, This bakery is still not that popular compared to nearby Eng Ho bakery, however this store had some loyal clientele tucked into its name.

Marland Cakes & Pastries

a short tour in the nearby Arranque market , some members of the tour group went into panic buying  of different array of dried Chinese foods, fruits, vegetables, lotus leaves, Chinese chorizo, Taiwan squash seeds , Ho ti etc…

members of the tour group went inside a Filipino- Chinese convenient store

dried jelly fish on sale at the Arranque market

various array of meat balls, fish balls, crab sticks, kikiam, squid balls

Mr. Ray Ong holding a meat ball made to resemble a cartoon character

pet shop tour

The group went to various stores and bought several items, which included a visit to the nearby pet stalls at the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue and Teodora Alonzo street.

Lion dance marked the first working day of the Chinese lunar New Year

New Eastern Garden Restaurant located along Ongpin street is famous of their fresh lumpia and other home cooked Filipino- Chinese cuisine. This restaurant was established in 1950. The restaurant is near the Maxim Tea House  & Restaurant

signage of New Eastern Garden Restaurant

Salazar Bakeshop– the  shop smells Chinese food all over, with it offering a variant of Chinese delicacies; from hopia, chiffon cake , tikoy , pastries and  botchi.

mungbean  with salted egg another specialty of the bakeshop

The wide range of choices for the different Hopia flavours made the decision a little difficult: Which to buy? Even Hopia Mungo are classified into Black Mongo, Black Mongo Bean, Mongo with cheese,Lotus Cream Hopia ,  Mongo with salted egg, Hopia pineapple, White Lotus ( Lao Po Pia)  and pure Mongo. But the simpler the better right?

Tikoy rolls – one of the specialties of Salazar Bakery

This bakeshop is known for its various tikoy rolls and moon cake. This bakery had a tradition of over 60 years and rivals that of Eng Bee Tin, Holland, Diao Eng Chay , Eng Ho , Chuan Kee , Monte Land etc…

different types of hopia – Holland bakery

Two blocks away from Salazar Street is the E.T. Yuchengco Street ( formerly known as Calle Nueva ) an empty alley which bans all transportation from entering. Situated along the street are towering condominiums and offices, far from the old two-storey stores that dominate Chinatown. Peeping through the modern buildings is an old big sign which says: Holland Hopia. It would probably take a while to figure out which store the sign is referring to, it being a tiny almost unrecognizable bakeshop.

This bakery is known for its hopia baboy, diced hopia , hopia buko pandan- macapuno  , hopia pu tao ko and is one of the main rival of the famous Eng Bee Tin bakery .

Group photo : L- R Tita Gloria Razon, Ms. Neptune Pittman, Ms. Lina Gueco, Ms. Marilois Estrella and Ms. Virgie Neo

Eng Bee Tin Bakery

The store is located at 628 Ongpin street coner E.T. Yuchengco street , Binondo , Manila and had 4 branches in Metro Manila. Eng Bee Tin products are also exported in a number of countries around the world.

Born in 1912, Mr. Chua Chiu Hong established Eng Bee Tin in a simple stall in the heart of Ongpin, Manila. The stall became well known for its traditional Chinese delicacies, such as hopia, tikoy and glutinous balls.

During the 1970s, Eng Bee Tin stood cloistered in a sea of similar businesses. Its popularity began to wane and its products were getting harder to sell in a competitive environment.

More than a decade passed, and there appeared to be no end to the downtrend. The stall’s hopia proved unpopular due to its consistency. Creditors, suppliers and friends were turning a cold shoulder, wary of doing business with a seemingly doomed enterprise. The business needed a miracle to survive the 1980s.

It came in the form of Mr. Gerry Chua.As the eldest among the current generation of Chua siblings at the time, it fell upon Gerry to take the reins of the business at the young age of 21. He was armed only with a sincere wish to help his father by affecting a turnaround on the family business.

The store currently have 8 branches .

La Ressureccion Chocolate- located 618 Ongpin street , Binondo , Manila

This chocolate factory is considered as one of the oldest existing chocolate factory in the country .  The store is located near the Eng Bee Tin Bakery store while the original Hispanic style building in which the store once stood in place is now a vacant lot waiting for the next building !

Chocolate  tablea products

Manila’s Chinatown, like China-towns elsewhere in the world, has colorful parades that wind around the district, capped with the Lantern Festival on the night of the first full moon which marks the end of the Chinese New Year holiday period. Good-luck items for sale abound, together with other items that have become synonymous with Chinese New Year celebration. Eating noodles is traditional and is believed to ensure long life.

People born in the Year of the Tiger are said to be intelligent, alert, courageous, honest, lucky, intense, lively, and engaging. Colorful and unpredictable, their energy and love for life are stimulating.

They are optimists who always bounce back for new and fresh challenges. Known for their ability in influencing others and swaying crowds, those born in the Year of the Tiger love life and want to live it to the fullest.

It would be a great year if people could take in the good characteristics of the Tiger who pursues life with unyielding energy. With a tiger mind for this Year of the Metal Tiger, our actions could bear fruit and make it easier for us to achieve our goals for the year 2010.

Happy Chinese New Year to one and all!

Kung Hei Fat Choi, Gong Xi Fa Chai , Kiong Hee Huat Chay !!!!!

2010 is the Year of the Tiger,
which is also known by its formal name of Geng Yin. 2010 is Year 4707 in the Chinese Calendar.

Note: The author occasionally on special request may do a Binondo Food Wok Tour

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