Summer is not yet over despite the recent typhoon that hit us. Not if we can help it. We’ve experienced some rain showers in the past days, but I’m pretty sure we still have plans set for the days to come. If you’re in for something different, you should try the Old Manila Walks‘ Binondo Food Wok.
The Binondo Food Wok is actually a walking tour of Binondo — the country’s China Town. You say it should be “walk” and not “wok”? Wait a minute. There’s something in there that you should know. This is not just your ordinary walking tour. Aside from visiting key places, you also get to enjoy delicacies that makes it a unique experience. That’s right, you eat while you walk.
I joined this tour way back in 2007 with some of my colleagues. This was sort of a team building activity as we end an episode in our career and start anew. We had no idea what it was all about until we get into the thick of things. We arrived at the Binondo Church where we met Mr. Ivan Man Dy, the man behind the walking tour service. Our group was joined by 2 foreigners and the crew of the now defunct magazine show “100% Pinoy” by GMA 7.
There he was, Ivan Man Dy, wearing a Chinese-inspired cap and shirt to complete the look. After catching some attention from church-goers inside the Binondo church where he introduced us to its baroque architecture and San Lorenzo Ruiz, we followed him to our next stop.
We took a short trip to a place where chocolate tableas are made. Then we arrived at a corner where we thought we’ll get to enjoy freebies of Eng Bee Tin — the delicious hopia. Instead, we went upstairs to a restaurant and ate kiampong and fishball soup. Kiampong is a mix of adobo (pork stew), fried rice, peanuts and shrimp. A perfect appetizer for a feast that we’re about to partake. But we didn’t let the opportunity of buying hopia pass us by.
Moving on, we passed by a Chinese drug store where we saw traditional medicines, including a dried reptile on stick. Then we stopped at a dumpling house where we had our fill of dumplings in all shapes, sizes and flavors. This time I understood why we didn’t eat much at Cafe Mezzanine. We loved this place so much that we went back to buy more for us to bring home when the tour ended. After eating lots of dumpling, we took a long walk and ended up in Estero Fastfood. The place is your all-familiar eatery, only it’s beside the canal. I remember smelling something foul. I’m not sure if the people eating there can smell it or not. I would have loved to enter inside the fastfood itself. We only stayed outside while Ivan tells us more about it. We learned that the food inside are mostly Filipino cuisine.
As we move along, we saw a store selling innards – steamed and fried. A few steps further had us munching fried siopao. The walk was capped with fresh lumpia. This is the most delicious lumpia I ever had. And it’s big too! I remember buying two orders to bring back home. The tour was filling, not just on the tummy but the experience itself. We walked a lot, but you’ll never notice how long you’ve been walking because of the many interesting things you’ll see. One of the notable things I saw was a restaurant proudly proclaiming that their serving food without MSG. That’s comforting, but I’m not sure anybody cared.
Binondo is a busy place – people walking to and fro, the traffic and the vendors along the sidewalk. This is an educational experience for everyone and highly recommended for students and relatives visiting from the province or overseas. Be there with an empty stomach and extra cash. We enjoyed the walk and the wok, we went home with plastic bags of full of food – hopia, dumplings, etc. The tour ended mid-afternoon. So if you’re in to explore more of Binondo, you still have much time to do it on your own. We were all so full that we ended up going home instead.
Where have you been in Manila? If you’ve been a resident of this city for a long time now and you haven’t been around, it’s about time to take the Old Manila Walks.