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Food you can’t miss on your next Binondo trip

Food you can’t miss on your next Binondo trip

Ongpin South Bridge. Photo by Joma dela Merced

Recognized as the oldest Chinatown in the world, Manila Chinatown (popularly dubbed as Binondo) offers a combination of rich history, picturesque streets, and great food!

I know. You’re probably already familiar with what Binondo has to offer. The restaurants and kiosks here have been featured way too many times on a lot of blogs, and we can’t blame them. The food here’s legit!

The last time I went to Binondo was during the last Chinese New Year, pre-pandemic. We didn’t get to explore the streets then as the sea of people was just too much. I mean, it was fun and festive, but the lines on the restaurants tend to get long. Maybe that’s the reason why going there after almost two years was soooo refreshing!

Ongpin Street decorated by Chinese lanterns. Photo by Joma dela Merced

When to go

Usually, the dubbed best time to go to Binondo was during Chinese New Years. Aside from the food, you’ll get to see a glimpse of Chinese culture – from dancing dragons and joyous bands, to lanterns and fireworks! But since the pandemic, the best time to go is whenever you can. Like, seriously. Take any moment you can and just go.

Unlike before, navigating the streets of Binondo has never been easier, thanks to handful of food crawls posted online. With these posts as guide, we decided to revisit the streets of Manila Chinatown and re-explore the rich taste of Chinese cuisine!

Here are food I think you shouldn’t miss the next time you go to Binondo.


Café Mezzanine’s Pork Dumplings. Photo by Joma dela Merced

Dim sums is a traditional meal made up of small plates of dumplings and other snack dishes. One of the most popular dim sum dishes is the Jiaozi.

Also called as Chinese dumplings, these crescent-shaped dumplings are formed using an opaque dough and are usually filled with ground pork and greens.

We ordered Café Mezzanine‘s pork dumplings and boy, does it taste good! I love how juicy it is, and how the sauce boosts the flavor of the dim sum instead of overpowering it.

For only Php 190 for eight (8) pieces of these goodies, I’d say that ordering this is definitely sulit!

Xiao Long Bao

Café Mezzanine’s Xiao Long Bao. Photo by Joma dela Merced

Regularly served at a traditional Chinese brunch, these soup dumplings are bites of surprises!

I know, Dong Bei Dumplings is probably among the famous spots for having your XLB’s (Php180 for 6 pieces), but since we were so hungry we didn’t make it there so we decided to have it at Café Mezzanine, too. Don’t hate me, but having tasted both, I think I prefer the latter better (please don’t come at me)!

Its minced pork filling is a bit sweet, it’s juicy as well, and just the proportion to its dough. The gelatinous pork broth that turns into liquid once steamed is very flavorful, too!

Priced at Php 220 for a 10-piece order of Xiao Long Bao, I guess it is worth a try to know if it indeed is better than Dong Bei’s.

Chinese Canton

Café Mezzanine’s Hema Miki Bihon. Photo by Joma dela Merced

Us Filipinos love ourselves some good pancit and Café Mezzanine‘s Hema Miki Bihon platter doesn’t disappoint!

Savor the Chinese-Filipino fusion in this 400-peso sweet-savory platter, filled with pork cutlets, ngo hiang (kikiam), shrimp, and veggies. I am not certain about the serving suggestion of this family platter (sorry, we were so focused on just ordering) but our group of six sure got each of our fills!

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Fried Siopao

Shanghai Fried Siopao’s stall. Photo by Joma dela Merced

Ah, the original! This was actually my first time to try the infamous Shanghai Fried Siopao.

I wasn’t certain if it was because we just had a filling late-lunch at the Café Mezzanine or if was because I expected the fried siopao to be well, fried (only the bottom part’s crispy and fried), but I’d say that I was a bit disappointed after my first bite.

But since I ordered another eight pieces to-go, after a long walk to the Lucky China Mall, I tasted the goodness of the siopao! The meat filling was indeed juicy and flavorful, and the bun was moist and soft. I can’t get over the fact that it tasted like you put a a dumpling filling inside the siopao bun – heaven for only Php 30 each!

A tip: Not sure if it’s just me but it’s way better after heating it in the oven (it makes the bun a bit more crispy).

Egg Tart

Lord Stow’s Bakery’s Egg Tart. Photo by Joma dela Merced.

To cap the food crawl on the streets of Binondo (and before going to Lucky China Mall), we bought probably the best sweet delight I’ve ever tasted – Lord Stow’s Bakery‘s Egg Tart!

I can say that I’ve fallen deeply in love with this treat! the flaky, crispy goodness of this egg tart’s pastry, is perfectly combined with the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth egg custard that gives off a rich finish. And a bonus, you can experience this delight for only Php 48 a piece!

Revisiting the streets of Binondo was such a rewarding (and filling!) trip. The streets, although not filled with as much people as before, is still as welcoming as ever. Of course, the food as usual, does not disappoint!

If you miss authentic Chinese flavors, or if you want to try it for the first time, now might be a good time to go gather your friends and see what the Manila Chinatown has to offer.

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