If you are craving for some fresh noodles, delicate dumplings and other Chinese comfort food – Binondo is the place to be. Manila Chinatown, the oldest in the world, is home to early Chinese immigrants that run all sorts of businesses which have transformed the district into a center of trade and commerce. Along Ongpin St. are decades-old restaurants serving affordable and delicious dishes loved by locals and tourists alike.
To get to Binondo, you can take the LRT Line 1, alight at Carriedo Station and walk your way to Binondo Church which is an ideal starting point for the food trip. Alternatively, you can ride any jeepney from Taft bound for Sta. Cruz, remind the driver to drop you off at Binondo Church.
On this food blog, we will sample the signature dishes of some of the most popular and highly rated restaurants in Binondo. Let’s eat!
Dong Bei Dumplings
The first stop is Dong Bei Dumplings in Yuchengco St. This hole in the wall restaurant is a little bit hard to find and its faded signage doesn’t help. However, if you see some women kneading dough through a glass storefront, chances are you’re in the right place. This store has been serving delightful Chinese delicacies for 15 years and has become one of the most well-known restaurants in Chinatown.
We ordered their best seller, Kuchay Dumplings made of ground pork and garlic chives wrapped in thin dough. A plate of 14 costs PhP200.00.
The dipping sauce is a blend of soy sauce, vinegar and an optional garlic chili oil that you make yourself on the table. The pork filling is very tasty and as expected, the heated flavor of the garlic chives dominates. There is a little bit of soup trapped in each dough pouch that bursts in your mouth.
The dumpling is good on its own but a dip in the special sauce will elevate its flavor and make it more addictive. Hence, we finished the plate in no time. Kuchay Dumplings is a delightful appetizer, a great start to our exciting food crawl.
The Verdict: 4.0 / 5.0
Address: 642 Yuchengco St, Binondo, Manila
Operating Hours: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Wai Ying Fast Food
Our 2nd stop is another must visit place, Wai Ying Fast Food. Located in Benavidez St, one will not miss it as there’s always a queue of customers outside, waiting to be seated. They serve authentic dimsum, roasted meats and a variety of other Chinese-Filipino favorites. I and my co-workers used to go here for lunch after attending the Thursday mass in the National Shrine of St. Jude in Malacanang. The last time I visited was more than 5 years ago so I was really excited to be here again. We tried some items that I’ve never had before.
We ordered their dimsum bestsellers: Hakaw (Shrimp Dumplings), Steamed Spare Ribs and Curry Beef Siomai. Each dimsum basket is PhP90.00.
The hakaw had generous amounts of shrimp and was very delicate. I did find it a little bit dry and doughy though.
The spare ribs were tasty, juicy, peppery and tender. The meat easily tears off from the rib. I did not expect it to be so flavorful because of its plain presentation.
The curry beef siomai is an explosion of texture and flavors. Crispy fried dumpling filled with generous amounts of pork and vegetables. The curry dip is mildly strong and not too salty. I can say that this combination actually works.
The main course is Roasted Duck Rice for PhP 240.00. Thick slices of duck meat poured with a rich sweet sauce. I am not a fan of duck because it has that unpleasant odor and aftertaste but this one tasted clean and had a mild smokiness instead.
It was tender but a little bit tougher than chicken. The sweet sauce compliments it really well. I have a different idea about duck meat from now on and I can see myself eating this every day.
We had a satisfying lunch at Wai Ying and the experience proved that the restaurant is truly a Binondo classic.
The Verdict: 5.0 / 5.0
Address: 810 Benavidez Street, Binondo, Manila
Operating Hours: 7:00 am – 2:00 am
Lan Zhou La Mien
Our third stop is right next to Wai Ying and is just as crowded. Lan Zhou La Mien is famous for serving fresh hand pulled noodles. We ordered one of their best sellers, Beef La Mien. One big bowl that’s good enough for 2 costs PhP 200.00.
There were generous amounts of never ending strands of noodles in rich broth, some vegetables and huge beef chunks as toppings. The soup was fragrant, soothing and flavorful. I get a hint of star anise with every sip. The beef is indeed tender and there is plenty of it, you get your money’s worth with this one.
The thick noodles were evenly cooked on the surface but has that bite and rawness in the middle. They are truly freshly made because I still get that raw flour flavor, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing though. The noodles did not soak up the flavor from the soup and actually repels it. Keep in mind that these observations are coming from someone who has never tried hand pulled noodles before.
We tried to customize it by adding soy sauce, spring onions and chili oil and it made the noodles 10 times better. However, we were only able to finish ¾ of the bowl. We had to pace ourselves since there is one more restaurant to cover.
The Verdict: 3.0 / 5.0
Address: 818 Benavidez Street, Binondo, Manila
Operating Hours: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sincerity Café and Restaurant
Sincerity Café and Restaurant has been in the food business since 1956 and has made a big name for themselves when it comes to fried chicken. We visited their original location in Yuchengco St. during a very crowded lunch time and waited for 10 minutes to be seated. Aside from fried chicken, Sincerity is also synonymous with Fried Oyster Cake and Fried Kikiam.
We ordered half portion of their fried chicken for PhP 180.00. The chicken is covered in light crispy batter that makes you wonder what part of the bird are you going to get? I get hints of garlic, pepper and ginger giving it a unique oriental flavor.
The Fried Oyster Cake is composed of eggs, bean sprouts, oyster and chives. You might get chewy bits of what seems to be cornstarch that’s meant to bind the cake together. Soft, slimy, chewy and crunchy sums up its texture. The flavor of the bean sprouts and oysters dominate the dish. I find this version dry compared to Taiwan’s Oyster Omelet. A small serving costs PhP 240.00.
At this point, our tummies are full so we are not as enthusiastic as we were in the beginning. Sincerity’s Fried Chicken is definitely a winner but I am not so sure about the Oyster Cake.
The Verdict: 4.0 / 5.0
Address: 497 E.T. Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila
Operating Hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Lord Stow’s Bakery
For dessert, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that Lord Stow’s Bakery, known for their egg tarts, has a branch here in Binondo. The egg tart’s crust is airy, crispy and flaky while the custard is smooth, creamy and mildly sweet which is very consistent with the ones we had in Macau last year. One serving costs PhP 42.00.
We had a great time trying out delicious and affordable Chinese delights in Binondo. Our favorites were Wai Ying’s Streamed Spare Ribs and Dong Bei’s Kuchay Dumplings. We’ve barely scratched the surface of this food paradise. We are definitely coming back soon to try some of the lesser known restaurants that people should check out too.
We made a Binondo Food Trip video on our YouTube channel, The Daily Phil to better show you what our Manila Chinatown food experience was really like.
This is The Daily Phil, conquering the world, one country at a time, using a Filipino passport.
Until next time, Travel Now, Bills Later!