The last time I went on a food tour in Binondo was when I was four months pregnant. We were back with another bunch of my sister’s friends last Saturday, when my son is already four months old. Yas! 🙂 We’re Binondo gals who were born and raised here, so we pretty much have already dined in every single restaurant in the area. I haven’t blogged a single post about restaurants in Binondo though, because I’ve already grown too accustomed and I never realized how special they would be for other people.
Nonetheless, arranging an itinerary for our Binondo food trip was easy. Instead of bringing our friends to each tried-and-tested place, we decided to bring and introduce them to our perennial favorites–some prominent and noteworthy destinations in Chinatown. We intended to dine in five restaurants, but our stomachs couldn’t take any more food, so after four hours of munching, we settled on four. 😛 Our experience was definitely fun like always, as we together explored our way through Binondo’s much-alive food scene.
Binondo Food Tour: Best Recommended Places to Visit in Manila’s Chinatown
1. The Great Buddha Cafe
2F UBE Tower, 628 Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila, 1006 Metro Manila
Phone: (02) 288 8888, (02) 241 9999
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Great Buddha Cafe is very different from Buddha Bar in Makati, although both have “Buddha” in their names and a large statue of Buddha inside the restaurants. If you’re familiar with the original Eng Bee Tin store in Binondo, then you’ll find the wonderful cafe on the second floor interesting. The renovated place is now called the Grand Buddha Cafe, where mouthwatering Chinese food are served beside a souvenir shop selling trinkets of Filipino and Chinese culture. Soon, there will also be a museum showcasing the history of the famous hopia brand and the process on how hopia is made.
This was our first stop and our meeting place. The Great Buddha Cafe is like a sister of Mr. Ube and Cafe Mezzanine. It has a modern ambiance, a casual setting housed in an expansive floor. Interior-wise, it’s a step up from a hole in the wall. We shared an order of xiao long bao (PhP 248, 10 pieces)–soup dumplings that burst in your mouth with a memorable explosion of flavor, especially when paired with the black vinegar and ginger condiment. We also tried stir-fried radish cake with pork floss (PhP 220). The nice golden crust was a delight to bite into!
Having a party at your house? The Great Buddha Cafe is present in the Honestbee app or website, so you can enjoy great food delivered at your doorstep. To immerse in the full dining experience, visiting the place itself is more ideal of course.
2. Big Bowl Noodles
Address: 517 Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila
Closes at 9 p.m.
Phone: (02) 244 8755
Chinese noodles and noodle soups and classic small plates are what it’s about at this quaint stop. Fans excuse the nondescript decor and turn to this terrific under-the-radar food joint for the limited yet unique and exciting lineup of noodle specialties. With a low-key, mellow vibe, Big Bowl Noodles has no crazy waits and nice simple digs. We had Seafood Hofan (PhP 180) and also enjoyed the Sliced Beef Fried Noodles (PhP 170). These are two solid choices at a reasonable price.
3. Sincerity Café and Restaurant
Address: 497 Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila
Phone: 241-9991, 241-9990
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant is one of the oldest and most known restaurants in Binondo. Must-orders include the Sincerity Fried Chicken (PhP 180 half, PhP 360 whole) and Fried Oyster Cake (PhP 240 small, PhP 280 big). You can’t miss these when dining here! Sincerity Fried Rice (PhP 70 small, PhP 110) and Kikiam (PhP 60) are also your best bets.
Aside from these staples, this restaurant is cherished for adobo frog (PhP 320) and deep fried frog legs (PhP 320). Unfortunately, these were unavailable when we visited since they’re seasonal. Unlike Big Bowl Noodles, Sincerity can get really crowded and waits can be long at prime meal times, but it works well when you have a craving. It’s best to go with family and friends to soak up the vibrant and bustling mood and enjoy dining at the tables.
4. Wai Ying Fastfood
810 Benavidez Street
Phone: 243-6665, 242-0310
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
For our final dining stop, we visited Wai Ying Fastfood, saving the best for last. At any time and on any day, this place can be a madhouse packed with both tourists and locals alike. But be patient, the food is worth the wait! Wai Ying is one of the best restaurants in Chinatown and you don’t need to burn a hole in your wallet to enjoy delicious Chinese fare.
From dim sum to rice toppings and noodles, this two-story building with royal-blue walls doesn’t disappoint. It’s truly a magical pick when you’re looking to impress your guests. Order anything with confidence and you’ll nod with amazement in every bite. Elbow-to-elbow seating may be a downside, but the undeniably great food with intensely delicious flavors ensure everyone leaves happy. We ordered lemon chicken, hakaw (PhP 120), lava buns (PhP 90), fried mantou with condensed milk, milk tea jelly (PhP 85), and sugar cane juice (PhP 55).
5. Eng Bee Tin Mall and Flagship Store
Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli is the home of the BEST hopia, tikoy, and ube pao. It’s a grocery store along Ongpin that was established in 1912 and was reconstructed last year. It started as a simple stall, but now, the flagship store looks like a supermarket cafe. The sleek glass exterior allows customers to see the appealing shelves filled with recognizable hopia and tikoy variants.
Eng Bee Tin is known for innovative and exciting flavors of hopia like buko custard, mochaccino, and golden pork floss. Premium flavors of tikoy are for those with an adventurous palate. Ube, strawberry, butterscotch, sweet corn, pandan, and muscovado tikoy are all available in different sizes. It’s too easy to fill your shopping cart with all these delicious finds! I got frozen xiao long bao (PhP 120, 10 pieces), which my sister tried from here before. Let’s see if it also gets my nod of approval. 😛
Manila Chinatown is one of the most historic neighborhoods in Binondo, Manila. It is the oldest Chinatown in the world! For this reasons and many more, visitors flock here in droves. Despite its accessibility, it still can be hard to figure out where and what to eat. Each restaurant offers its own list of specialty dishes, so if you’re not content with one, it’s okay to move on and try another. 🙂
Manila Chinatown: List of Other Restaurants in Our Rotation: 👍
- King Chef Seafood Restaurant (Lucky Chinatown Mall)
- Lord Stow’s Bakery (Imperial Sky Garden)
- Quik Snack (Carvajal Street)
- Lan Zhou La Mien (Benavidez Street)
- Awi’s Cafe & Restaurant (Yuchengco Street)
- Ling Nam (T. Alonzo)
- Uno Seafood Wharf Place (Escolta)
- Tasty Dumplings (Norberto Ty corner Yuchengco Street)
- President Grand Palace (Ongpin)
- Café Mezzanine (Ongpin)
- Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian (Ongpin)
- Chuan Kee Chinese Fast Food (Ongpin)
- Wan Chai Tea House (Ongpin)
- David’s Tea House (Tomas Mapua Street, Santa Cruz)
- 1919 Grand Cafe (Juan Luna corner Plaza Cervantes Street)