Guide: Manila’s Chinatown Eats to Welcome in The Year of the Rat

Guide: Manila’s Chinatown Eats to Welcome in The Year of the Rat

Fresh into a new decade, Chinese New Year is fast approaching. As Manila bids farewell to the Year of the Pig, what better way to embrace the Year of the Rat than sampling different Chinese eateries around Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown.

With a wealth of Chinese tea houses located just at the end of Pasig River, Manila's Binondo is a haven for the hungry. It has a number of options ranging from well-known places to hole in the wall haunts. And the popular places have long lines for a reason: their delicious and no nonsense Chinese food. 

Ying Ying Tea House's Hot Prawn Salad. Photo: Miguel Nacianceno

The first of these places is Ying Ying Tea House, which serve up the usual dim sum delights. From dimsum, congee, noodles, and roasts, the restaurant is perfect for when you’re looking for a light snack or looking to to have a full meal. Their Hot Prawn Salad is arguably the best in town, along with their Pork Blood, which runs out fast. 

Wai Ying Dimsum's sweet sesame dessert. Photo: Wai Ying Dimsum

Similarly, Wai Ying Dimsum, has all the usual tea house suspects in their menu. They are, however, known for their roasts, specifically their roast duck, which is eaten with rice, or with congee, or sitting atop noodles and broth. Aside from their main shop, they also have a small branch conveniently located in the 168 food court, a popular mall in Binondo.

Sincerity's best-selling Fried Chicken. Photo: Sincerity

Like the first two, Sincerity is a dimsum place with Chinatown roots, but has since expanded throughout Metro Manila. This expansion is a testament to their amazing food, specifically their Chinese-style fried chicken and oyster pancake. 

Making of Dong Bei's dumplings. Photo: Miguel Nacianceno

If you're looking for a quick bite and craving for a little dimsum, Dong Bei Dumplings is a little hole in the wall that makes fresh dumplings right up at the front of the shop. Generously stuffed pork dumplings are a must try and, regardless of whether you like chili oil or not, theirs is one you need to try at least once. 

A shopkeeper stocking goods of Eng Bee TIn Chinese Deli. Photo: Miguel Nacianceno 

As tradition dictates for Filipinos, Chinese New Year Cake, known locally as tikoy, is mandatory for welcoming the new year. Vendors along the streets of Binondo peddle boxes of the glutinous rice cake during this time. The best ones can be found in the two famous bakeries in the area, Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli and Ho-Land Hopia

These bakeries started in Binondo and have since grown throughout Metro Manila. They're not only known for traditional pastries such as tikoy, mooncake and hopia, but also newer flavors. Take for example Eng Bee Tin, whose tikoy now also comes in different flavors such as ube, cheese, pandan, sweet corn, muscovado, and strawberry. Likewise, Ho-Land’s hopia, which traditionally comes comes with black and white mung bean, pork, and winter melon, now has versions with pineapple and yam.

The Den's Cold Brew Coffee. Photo Miguel Nacianceno 

For those looking for an alternative to Chinese food, third wave coffee has found itself in Binondo in the form The Den, which is located in the First United Building, a gentrified Art Deco building which used to house actors and actresses during the heyday of the Philippine Movie industry in Escolta Street in Binondo. This cafe uses local Filipino coffee beans by Kalsada Coffee.    

Binondo has a lot of flavor, not just with its food but also with the district itself. Its streets are always alive, not just during Chinese New Year. It’s a place meant to be walked through and explored. Interspersed between its shops, its banks, and it's highrises are countless places both big and small waiting to be discovered. It’s a good thing there’s plenty of great places to stop and eat throughout the journey. 

For more delicious recommendations and recipes on Chinese New Year, see our Chinese New Year 2020 page. 

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