I can still remember how fun it was back in elementary school when we get to go on field trips. Once you step out of Grade 6, people seem to forget how to have fun. Bummer!
When I learned about the Binondo Wok Tour online, I was ecstatic since it is going to be a reminiscent of all those school trips I once had! Only better, by the way.
Once we arrived at Ramada Manila Central Hotel, we headed straight to the Luna Function Hall at the roof deck and met with the group. We introduced ourselves to our tour guide, Anson, who welcomed us warmly and asked us to patiently wait for the others. Before proceeding with the first destination, he gave us a quick fact about Antonio Luna whom the hall was named after. One of the bravest Filipino heroes, he was born in Binondo October 29, 1866.
We soon left the hotel and crossed the street to Binondo Church. Do you know that the real name of the church is Parroquia Basílica de San Lorenzo Ruiz y Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario. What a mouthful! Also, you can see here the Our Lady of Prompt Succcor of Binondo which has very prominent Asian features.
After marveling at the beauty of the high renaissance structure, we headed to the home of one of the best Lumpias in town. New Po-Heng Lumpia House is the go-to place when the talk of original Fresh Spring Roll surfaces. I kid you not: the peanut sauce was god-sent and you can certainly taste the authenticity of the dish with each flavorful munch. What’s good about the Old Manila Walks is that you do not just visit and look at the place, the food is all for free!
Next stop was Quik Snack. Here, we got the chance to interact with the other tourists and sat with them through the meal. We were first served Indonesian Tauhu which is a sight to behold. I sincerely appreciated the presentation and the taste was exceptional. It was quite heavy on the stomach though, so I would suggest not to wolf on it immediately and save room for the other dishes first.
We were also served Beef Mi Guisado with Sate. Here, we got extremely lucky because we were given second and third servings! I guess it was pretty evident that I was having the time of my life because one of the customers who was sitting across talked to us and said that they’re loyal customers because Quik Snack never failed them when it comes to taste.
And to top it all off, Kuchay Ah were also given out. Define “full-stomach” and to think this was only our 2nd food destination!
Along the streets of Carvajal were fruit, vegetable, and seafood vendors. What caught my attention though was the traditional Chinese drug store. From ointments, to herbs, and balms, they have it!
Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant was our next agenda. Although the place was acclaimed for their Chinese-style Fried Chicken, I ultimately enjoyed their Kikiam and Oyster Omelette. The omelette was cooked on the outside yet remained moist inside. I wanted so much to order rice but I was way too full!
The interior of Sincerity screamed of hearth. Going there is like visiting a close relative. The second floor even has a multi-cultured altar!
Now what is a Binondo Tour without visiting Ongpin? Hard to imagine, I suppose! Although nestled in the heart of the City of Manila, it felt like I was somewhere in Macau. The vibe was almost the same plus I started seeing newpapers printed in Hokkien!
We soon headed to a humble store selling Bizhu-Bizhu, Friend Siopao, and Machang. Anson knew that we were crazy full so when he passed the food around, he mentioned that we can definitely keep them as pasalubongs. I loved the idea! It’s such a good deal having people at home experience all this awesome food!
Our last stop was at Eng Bee Tin. Here, I went completely bat-shit crazy! After all, this is the source of my favorite hopia!!! We were given, of course, the ultimate best seller: Ube Hopia. The soft, chewy texture was superb that one piece was not enough! It was so popular, in fact, that Binondo does not have red fire trucks. Their fire trucks are all in purple to pay tribute to the Ube Hopia. I also had the chance to taste the Tikoy Bar which, contrary to my impression, was actually tasty.
The Binondo Wok Tour was worth every centavo. It was also worth all the walking! Anson was kind and entertaining. The people joining the tour were nice as well. Aside from having the taste of Binondo linger in our mouth, we learned a lot about the history of not just the restaurants but also the whole of the district.
We were given a map by the end of the tour should we wish to relieve the tour someday. Believe me, with the unbelievable experience we had that day, we definitely will!
**The Binondo Wok Tour is being facilitated by Old Manila Walks regularly. To know more about it, please visit their website by clicking HERE.