My Food Crawl Diary of Binondo —the Manila City's Chinatown

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It's been a week of heavy rain pours and gray cloudy skies in the city I'm living in. I am not sure if the whole Metro Manila has been experiencing this same weather. I love how it's not too hot in the day but it makes me crave for noodle soups that have rich flavors —my favorite is beef noodles. I love pairing noodles with any dumpling such as Xiao Long Bao, Hakaw, Siomai, and more. Yesterday, when I was informed that I'd have to do some shopping errands in the district of Binondo, I was excited. That meant that I can get a taste of authentic noodle soup and dumplings from the many Chinese restaurants in the area. Binondo is popular for these Chinese cuisine restaurants and stalls along the streets and nooks. There are so many that food enthusiasts spend a whole day or [some] days to explore this Chinatown.

As much as I want to spend a whole day roaming the area, I have to do my work errands first. I have been here a lot of times already but I still have a lot of places to try. For our lunch, we tried this fast food place called Chuan Kee, it is the oldest fast food place in Binondo.


The walk along the streets even at mid-day was comfortable for me. It wasn't too hot or humid, even with the narrow walk lanes, there were some trees and bushes that offered shade. I felt like it's been so long since I went here because I just noticed how the street posts were designed with dragons, maybe it was for the celebration of Chinese New Year early this year. Arriving at Chuan Kee, I noticed how it's different from the usual restaurants I have been in this area, most have those hanging roasted chicken and ducks. Chuan Kee is also known as the oldest Chinese turo turo in Binondo, it resembles the traditional Carinderia where you'll point at the dish you'd want to order. However, in our experience, a waiter notes our order. Maybe because of the pandemic and they don't want their customers lining up in the counter and pointing at the dish they want. Nevertheless, the food was great! I ordered the Beef Mami and paired it with Xiao Long Bao (sadly, I wasn't able to take a photo of the dimsum 🤭I was too excited and too hungry already when it was served).

The soup was rich in flavor and the beef cuts were very tender! The noodles were soft too (although I prefer it when it's just cooked a little). The Xiao Long Bao served to us was a total of ten pieces! It was quite a lot for a price of Php 200.00 or $ 4.00. It was served with black vinegar, one of my favorite condiments. It was a full lunch meal for me because the servings were very generous. We went back to our work errands after eating lunch. Just in time for an afternoon snack, we were able to check out of list. Before going home, I resumed my food hopping, alone. I thought I could manage with the directions all by myself but the different streets were still a puzzle for me, I got lost a little but that just mean I could explore more of the area.

Something that I am sure a while ago about myself is that I love fruits! In all my visits in Binondo, I have always wondered how much are the fruits being sold along the streets. I usually buy just in grocery stores near our apartment and it's quite expensive. The variety of fruits in Binondo also makes it more enticing to buy some.


I was just going to take the train on my way home so I had to factor in the weight of the fruits I'll buy. I was able to buy a lot for cheap prices too, I bought some lychee, longgan, and mangoes! When I got home, I had these fruits for dinner and I was so happy because they're all sweet and tasty.

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My last stop for today's food crawl was this famous food stall that sells fried siopao. There was a time when toasted siopao became a hit, it was just recently when I found this bakery near our apartment that sells toasted siopao, I loved it! Growing up, I just usually see and eat steamed siopao. I never thought that the crunch and toast of the bun would make such difference in the taste and texture of the food.

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The fried siopao in this place is sold at Php 30.00 per piece (that's $ 0.60), same price with the steamed siopao in convenience stores. The food stall only sells this and some other fried goods on display but they're really thriving. When I was in the line buying three pieces, the person in front of me bought sixty pieces! A lot of people really enjoy this delicious snack, it looks small but it's quite heavy for a snack because of the meat and the bun.

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Compared to the toasted siopao that I've tasted from the bakery near my place, these look like a bunch of steamed siopao 😂. The bun is still soft but the bottom part is burnt a little. The filling was very delicious, it's made of pork with some vegetables that I'm not sure of, it was a little crunchy. How I wish I bought more, it was very delicious!

I'll be adding more about the food restaurants and stalls I'll try in the future, for now, I'm happy of these new food adventures I got to taste. Binondo has a lot to offer, even thought it's quite far from home, the travel to this place is worth the time and penny. 👌🏻
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