Over the weekend, Tralulu, a digital booking platform that allows visitors from all over the world to experience traveling and eating at places like the locals do, took us on one heck of an amazing Binondo food crawl adventure. We went through hidden holes in the walls, that surprisingly served some of the best food in the city, saw beautiful sights and even learned a little more about the culture and history of Binondo. We really enjoyed this wonderful treat.
This tour was co-organized by iDiscover, a non-profit group, advocating for culture and heritage preservation through making maps. They partner with locals in different communities to create routes for people to take when they visit, featuring the best of what each place has to offer. Activities, sites, learning experiences and even food, they really get their way around even the most hidden but valuable spots. For our tour, we got to try out their new Binondo map and celebrated its launch through this food adventure! The experience was definitely one for the books.
We met up in Binondo Church, which, by the way, is the only church in the country that conducts mass in four different languages. We had no idea who we were going with, but later on found out that we were traveling with a group of bloggers and vloggers. From there, we walked to our first stop.
Home of the best lumpia in Binondo is the extremely hidden New Po-Heng Lumpia House! You literally will not find it if you are not looking for it specifically. They have been open for twenty years now, successfully selling their food to a bunch of regulars. Their lumpia has fourteen ingredients and is made right in front of the customers. This is their original branch, but they have also opened a restaurant in Ongpin street. If you can’t find the place, don’t worry! They deliver too! And it’s free if you are from the Binondo area.
Second stop – Ying Ying! What’s interesting about this restaurant is that it actually was a house for forty years before it was converted into a tea house in the early 2000’s. They specialize in serving dimsum.
On our way to our third stop, we passed by Capitol, a historical cinema that has been abandoned for years now. It is being converted into a condominium, but the facade’s design is to be kept the same. Do you think that this is an issue of historical preservation like we do, or do you support the transformation of this old historical landmark?
Our third stop was more of food for the eyes. Our official guide, Andrew from Tralulu took us to the Rooftop View Deck located in one of the condominiums in Binondo, the highest point in the area; where we got the chance to see the entire Metro Manila from its four sides (Quiapo, Binondo, Manila Bay, and Intramuros)! Pretty cool, huh? Aside from the jaw-dropping view, we got to enjoy the windy and chill vibe up there. Indeed, it is a great place to relax, but to get access to this, you must either be a unit owner or part of the people going on a tour with Tralulu.
Before we talk about our fourth stop, we would like to tell you about this very controversial arc situated in the bridge connecting Binondo and Intramuros. The design is beautiful, but is found very disrespectful by the locals. Why? Because the Chinese symbols at the middle, can literally be translated to “A town of China”, almost as if there is a claim of ownership. Something we found interesting to learn about during the food crawl.
Our fourth stop was in a humble open kitchen called the Shanghai Fried Siopao. Considering how we got used to different varieties of siopao, we found their version very interesting. Upon taking our first bite, we found that it had a bit of soup inside which is very much like the siopao you can find in China! Don’t let the name deceive you, though. It is still steamed siopao, but the bottom part is fried to a nice brown. The pork, which looked like a meatball, was cooked really well and everything about it was just so enjoyable. Enough for us to crave for more.
Our fifth stop was in Lan Zhou La Mien, a noodle house that is famously visited by migrants. Authentically Chinese too! It has been in business for 11 years now and upon trying their best selling beef lamien noodles, we immediately saw why people kept on coming. The beef was really tender and the noodles were hand pulled which you can see through their glass windowed kitchen. The soup they use is boiled for 24 hours which is why it was very flavorful. Aside from this, they have really huge serving sizes which is a plus factor for hungry people like us! We would definitely come back here.
The sixth and last stop is in Cafe Mezzanine/Eng Bee Tin where we got to try out Binondo’s best desserts like the Ube Hopia, Custard Hopia, Salted Egg Yolk Siopao, Buchi, and more. What makes them the best? Well, everybody absolutely loves them which is why now they are present in over 24 branches.. and counting! Desserts we loved the most? We’ll definitely go for the Hopia variants and the Salted Egg Yolk Siopao. Yum! Lastly, what amazed us with this cafe’s story is how the Chua family places all its revenue in their advocacy to support firemen. This came from their father’s means of giving back to the community he was once a part of.
Overall, the experience was really great. We were happy to have been able to travel like locals around Binondo by checking out the iDiscover App (You can download this for FREE by searching “iDiscover Manila” via Play Store or App Store) and map and being toured by the best Tralulu guides! We will never see Manila the same way again!
Book your next Tralulu experience here: https://tralulu.com/instant_booking
Check out the idiscover app for Binondo here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idiscover-manila/id1263471614?mt=8
Check out the idiscover maps for Hong Kong here: https://i-discoverasia.com/product/hong-kong-travel-guide/.