Pinoys have always had a unique affinity for Chinese food, given the country’s historical-cultural background. Filipino cuisine has been influenced by Chinese restaurants, a lot of which reside in the streets of Binondo. Known as the “oldest Chinatown in the world,” Binondo undeniably holds the elegance of a bygone era, in addition to the gastronomic experience that keeps locals and tourists coming back for more. If you find yourself visiting Binondo soon, check out these must-try restaurants:
Shanghai Fried Siopao
Say hello to the siopao-reinvented: Shanghai Fried Siopao has been a favorite steamed-bun joint for Filipinos who live and visit Binondo. Used to the typical siopao, many were surprised by its addictively soft and moist bun, well-seasoned meat filling, and toasted bottom.
Because it’s true, not all Bola-bola and Asado siopaos deliver that springy bun and juicy filling experience like their fried siopao does, so get yours on your next Binondo food crawl and make sure to bring home some to your family, too!
If you like comfort, ambiance, and the authentic feel of Chinatown, Cafe Mezzanine is the place to be. It’s known as the Fireman’s Coffee Shop, where 100% of its profits go to the Binondo Paco Fire Volunteer Search & Rescue Brigade. How often do you see that in Manila? A restaurant that gives back to the community with each cup and meal you buy.
The restaurant itself has its old homey charm, perfect for post-meal hangs. Sit by the window to get a great view of Chinatown under the neat red lanterns. Come for their xiao long bao and stay for their sweet and salty lava pao!
Address: 2nd Floor – 650 Ongpin St.
Dong Bei Dumplings
A trip to Binondo wouldn’t be complete without at least a few dumplings. If you are at all interested in experiencing the best Binondo has to offer, you’ve got to try Dong Bei Dumplings. The restaurant is smaller than most dumpling joints. Currently, they only allow ready-to-eat meals or frozen dumplings for take-out.
But to make up for their limited capacity, you can catch a view of the staff at work, making scrumptious dumplings, ranging from pork, shrimp, and even vegetarian varieties. Their pork ones are best-sellers—especially since they only cost Php 200 for 14 pieces! The pretty-looking fried pancakes are also great choices if you want to diversify your order.
Address: 642 Yuchengco St.
Learn more about them through their Facebook page.
Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant
As Binondo peeps would tell you, fried chicken isn’t really a staple in Chinese cuisine. But through the years, Sincerity Cafe has remained a local favorite for their star attraction: their savory fried chicken! Even without gravy or ketchup, it still packs a lot of flavor while staying crunchy and juicy. It gets even better with their kiampong and kikiam, too! Definitely a must-have on your list of places to eat when in Binondo.
You can’t go wrong with a good bowl of Mami! This age-old must-try in Binondo is a cut above the rest and has always been considered the best choice for an authentic noodle dish. Made from a generous combination of ingredients to bring out that homey feel, Masuki’s Mami is a match made in heaven for noodle lovers. Pair it with their famous siopao and signature garlic fried rice, and you are guaranteed food bliss!
What can be better than a dim sum platter? Head on over to Wai Ying, where you can find all-time favorites at an affordable price. They’re best known for hakaw (crystal shrimp dumpling) and siomai (pork and shrimp dumpling), among many others. Their menu is not limited to dim sum either, you can also try their roasted duck for a heavier meal.
Tip for first-timers: order one dish at a time. The food is best eaten when piping hot and fresh out of the kitchen.
LGA Fast Food – Estero
Binondo is also home to one tricky-to-find dining destination. LGA Fastfood, locally known as Estero, is a restaurant you have to experience for yourself to try exotic Filipino-Chinese food.
This row of canteen-style hawker stalls can get pretty gloomy (which complements its humble appeal), but this is where you can score hard-to-find exotic dishes like Soup No. 5 (bull testes) and fried frog legs, whose crisp fat really soaks up all the flavor!
Address: 770 North bridge, Ongpin St.
Living up to its name, Tasty Dumplings serves some of the most delicious dumplings in the heart of Chinatown. Other than dumplings, they also take pride and joy in their pork chop rice, best known for being the size of a platter and will make you ask for extra rice!
Address: Wellington Building, Norberto Ty St.
Take a walk along Carvajal Street and you’ll inevitably find yourself lost among the stalls leading to Quik Snack, where merienda just got better. Get their special home-cooked Indonesian-Chinese fare, including guisado noodles, kuchay-ah, chicken pie, oyster cake, Indonesian tofu, pancit, and fresh lumpia–their flavorful spring roll filled with peanut bits that give it a sweet crunch!
See why Chuan Kee has been in operation since 1940. As one of Chinatown’s most famous turo-turo restaurants, expect budget-friendly food choices like kiampong, pork asado, xiao long bao, and hakaw. Don’t forget to order gokong soup (Chinese herbal soup) to complete the meal!
Address: 650 Ongpin St.
Learn more about them through their Facebook page.
Of all the cultural experiences in Binondo Manila, nothing matches basking in the city’s old-world charm amidst the hustle and bustle with your favorite Filipino-Chinese local dish.
Looking to explore other amazing cuisines? Check out these SHOOR cooking classes you can take from home: Filipino Cooking Class, 36-Hour Adobo Cooking Class, and Travel with Your Tastebuds: Europe Edition.
What’s your favorite Binondo restaurant?