Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Search for What Binondo Has to Offer

     Finally, for the nth time we've been passing by Sta.  Cruz and Binondo, for our unusual Divisoria shopping, for our unusual family events-we got to explore the Philippines' Chinatown.
And boy, I can't wait to tell you about our Chinese food craving and how it was satiated.   
It took us half an hour to look for a whole-in-the-wall diner that could give us satisfaction with the cultural immersion we were in for.   Restaurants abound, catering to distinct customers.  From upscale, modern to the downright hungry and ready to eat a dinosaur.

   Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz

   Known also as Binondo church, has trully played a major part in our  "las memorias del  amor."  Though me and my husband are both non-Catholics (we are Christians by faith and grace) we both find archaic churches and buildings quite fascinating.  You still could find a few here in Manila.   Traces from our rich Philippine history abounds and plays diversely with the modern architecture.

   Frankly, I don't know how to write my thoughts on the place, or I don't have any.   Reading articles about it helped, but it just did justice to the colorful history it has.  You might want to read this: Manila Chinatown, Philippines.
We were transcended all of a sudden to China, a mini version that is.   Seeing establishments written in Chinese and familiar objects originated from China's culture made it a very amazing walk along its streets.

                                                                          Wan Chai Tea House

   Too bad I never had a chance to ask the meaning of wan chai to the staff.  But I'm not a linguist, I'm a foodie.   However, Wikepedia is an arm, and according to the site, wan chai, is a Cantonese word for "a cove."
Hunger and great expectations made me dizzy, and also the search for the said oldest chocolate store.   Why oh why could we not recollect the name of that shop.

    At Benavidez St.  we saw Wan Chai Tea House  and we agreed and said this is it!   We want an authentic Chinese restaurant, simple and of course within our budget. 
   We were served with hot teas and we started off with Hakaw.   Shrimp-filled soft dumpling.  The silky-soft skin of the dish is very indulgent more so when you taste the filling.
  For Bhogs, a bowl of hot Wanton Beef  Brisket.   We thought of Chowking, taste and looks like it, but the noodles are a bit thinner.   More shrimp siomai inside and beef chunks are easy on the mouth.
   Has anyone tasted radish in any way aside from a salad or being part of "Sinigang?"  
    You won't believe this.
   The picture on the left is Fried Radish Cake.  We weren't hesitant ordering it, though we asked the waitress how it might taste, she couldn't tell us how though she said it would be a risk cause it is really different.   Yes, quite different but will draw your interest.   We loved it though, we even left the two slices to be brought home.   We didn't expect that my son who doesn't eat veggies liked it!  And after being full by all the food we had, came the very first dish we   ordered, Mushroom with Minced Shrimp.  It is the first picture above.   We could not help but dig in some more.   The clear sauce is sumptuous, with ribboned egg white all over.  The dumpling is sitting on top of steamed Shitake mushrooms.   And the dumpling itself is so stuffed with the goodness of shrimps and veggies.  I heard one woman said when the dish was being served, "sabaw pa lang ulam na" (the soup is a viand in itself).   Indeed! It was bit pricey but we we're glad we ordered it.  We have to bring some for the kids.  Well it was a hit!
   We will definitely be back here in Chinatown in a week or two, and we already have some restos in our list which we target to go, and yes we already know the name of the chocolate shop we've been looking for.   So do watch out for it! 


  1. Indeed! Manila still has the finest Chinese cuisine!

  2. Haven't eaten at Wan Chai Tea House yet, but I'd love to one of these days! :)


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