April 27, 2014

Binondo - Manila's Chinatown

The fabulous CLO (Community Liaison Officer) organized a Wokking tour of Manila's Chinatown - the neighborhood of Binondo.  Actually, it was more of a walking and eating tour - so right up our alley!

We learned that the Chinese community developed on the other side of the river from the old city - Intramuros (within the walls).  The Chinese people there traded with the native peoples (Filipinos) as well as the Spanish - who controlled the area.  Many Chinese people came and settled there and incorporated the food they knew, with what was available.

The first stop we made was to a Chinese lumpia place - very different from the Filipino lumpia I've had.  It's more like a burrito, with lots of vegetables.

We went down a hallway that opened up into a lovely interior courtyard.

There we were introduced to Chinese lumpia.  There was sweetened chopped peanuts and toasted rice with seaweed as toppings.

Here's half a lumpia before you put the toppings on.

And here it is with the toppings.  You also add hot sauce, chopped garlic in vinegar, and a sweet syrup.  Put it all together and it's super yummy!

From there we walked through some narrow alleys.

Notice all the electrical wire grouped together overhead.

There is a cute bridge over the river. But the river itself is not particularly clean.

We went down the famous main street - Ongpin Street.

People get around on tricycles - with sidecars.

There's great fruit sold on the street - mangosteens are wonderful.

Great street ambience

and interesting shops.
Our tour guide explaining about dumplings and donuts.  

These dumplings reminded me of char siu bao - but they were filled with ground meat - not bbq pork.

And here are the donuts - sort of.  Traditional Chinese fried dough - but here they often toss them with sugar - then they resemble a churro.

The yams here are purple on the inside and called ube - with a different flavor. Then the sweet potatoes are red on the inside - and taste more like yams.

We eventually came to a very small dumpling shop.  Just 20 seats and they make everything by hand right there in the window.  Wonderful!

Our last stop was at a pastry shop that sold hopia.  Small cakes with various fillings.  Traditionally filled with mung bean paste.

Purple is ube - the purple yam.

But they also had ones filled with flan - my favorite.

The last thing I tried, were these peanut cakes - they tasted a lot like a really great Butterfinger.

A very fun and interesting day.