The Manila Chinatown is also known as Binondo. It was established in 1594 and is said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world.
The place is a mix of Filipino-Chinese residential and commercial spaces. You can see homes that look like warehouses, and warehouses that are really warehouses. After all, many of the Filipino-Chinese locate their trading business here.
Aside from that, the place is filled with fruit/vegetable stalls, curio shops and Chinese food eateries and restaurants.
Eng Bee Tin
A good place for a light breakfast is Eng Bee Tin, arguably the most popular Chinese deli in Metro Manila.
Get one of their flavored hopias (bean-filled pastry). You can’t lose with a Hopia Ube and Hopia Red Mongo. If you want meat for breakfast, get the Hopia Baboy. Their mooncake ube is also yummy!
Add a cup of coffee, straight from the dispenser… and there! A hearty simple Chinatown breakfast!
628 Ongpin St. Binondo
Check out the market goods while in Chinatown. It is relatively cheap there, and you can find practically everything. There are streets dedicated to clothes, kitchenware, eyeglasses, electronics and more.
Fruits and vegetables here are varied, even offering rare treats like the dragonfruit.
Dong Bei Dumpling
Dong Bei Dumpling is a hole-in-the-wall that serves the best kuchay (vegetarian) dumpling in Metro Manila. It is a must-eat place when you’re in Chinatown. Try their kuchay dumpling, shrimp dumpling and stuffed eggplant.
There are only five tables available for dine-in guests, so come early.
Another curious thing about the place is that you’ll see the women make dumplings in a table next to the diners. It’s not odd to see newbie photographers come in just to take photos.
642 Yuchengo Street, Binondo
In the afternoon, head to this nondescript stall along Narra Street, which is at the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue. There is a small sari-sari store in the front, which sells snacks and sodas, and a small sign that says Ventosa.
The place is owned by an old Chinese lady, who facilitates traditional ventosa healing to her clients. Note: this isn’t a spa. Don’t expect dimmed lighting and aromatic smells. Instead, you will see simple beds, suction machines and cups made of plastic.
Don’t worry. The ladies who run the place are very knowledgeable. I’ve gotten rid of aches and pains through their therapy, which costs as little as 200 pesos an hour.
Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian
Quan Yin Chay is a well-loved vegetarian eatery, even in meat-eating Metro Manila. Here, you will find some of the most delicious Filipino and Chinese dishes, made the vegetarian way.
Don’t miss their barbecue, kare-kare (peanut sauce stew), bicol express, and fried rice. They don’t always serve the barbecue so keep your fingers crossed.
To order, you only need to point at what you like. Ask the server about the dish so you know what you’re getting. During lunch and dinner, you can get set meals with 2 dishes and a cup of steamed rice for 70 pesos.
G. Masangkay Street
To cap the day of eating and shopping, take a walk along Ongpin Street. The street is all lighted up, and still abuzz with activity. You will the subtle clash of Filipino and Chinese cultures amidst the backdrop of red, yellow and night.