As the World’s oldest Chinatown (established in 1594), Binondo in Manila is a well-known cultural and foodie haven. Here, you can find lots of authentic hole-in-the-wall establishments serving everything from flashy Cantonese-themed lauriat meals to homey Hokkien-style Tsinoy cooking. However, there are over 100+ restaurants in the area, so it can be quite overwhelming to decide where to eat.
Thankfully, I’ve joined several walking and eating tours led by THE Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks, so I’ve sampled a few of the best. I highly recommend you join one of his tours so you can get a sense of history and learn more about the different establishments.
But for those who want to explore on their own, your best resource would be the Big Binondo Food Wok map, where Ivan lists all the restaurants, shops and cultural points of interest in the area. Here are just a few favorites in Binondo.
DONG BEI DUMPLINGS
642 E.T. Yuchengco St. cor. V. Tytana St., Binondo
A humble hole-in-the wall joint that’s gained fame for serving authentic homemade dumplings and potstickers in the style of the northeast of mainland China cooking.
Everything here is made from scratch within the four corners of the walls. Really good dumplings especially the kuchay with pork dumplings. I’m craving for these right now as I write. Definitely one of my favorites in Binondo.
- Recommendations: Pork dumplings, kuchay with pork dumping, deep-fried scallion cakes, stir-fried chicken with carrots and cucumber, Tofu Burger, Xiao Long Bao, Wong Lo Kat drink
- Price range: P120 – P270/dish
- Restaurant hours: Monday – Sunday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
- Facebook: Dong Bei Dumpling
650 Ongpin cor. E.T. Yuchengco St. Binondo
This Volunteer Fireman’s Coffee Shop specializes in comfort food cooked Hokkien-style. All the restaurant’s revenue is donated to Binondo Paco Fire Search and Rescue Brigade.
- Recommendations: Kiampong (rice cooked with soy sauce, pork, veggies and topped with salted peanuts), Special Fish Ball Soup (a light soup with veggies and fishballs), Lo Tau Hu (Stir-fried tofu), Cold kundol or Wintermelon tea, Soup#5
- Price range: P90-P200/dish
- Restaurant hours: Monday to Saturday 7:00 am – 8:00 pm; Sunday 7:00 am – 2:00 pm
- Facebook: Cafe Mezzanine
NEW PO-HENG LUMPIA HOUSE
531 Quintin Paredes Street / 937 Ongpin Street
A small family-run eatery hidden within a courtyard of an Art Deco building. Their signature dish is Tsinoy-style spring rolls made mostly of fresh vegetables. For just P50, the lumpia which contains crushed peanuts, seaweed and bihon bits, is surprisingly filling. Homemade condiments and a sweet and spicy sauce are served on the side.
- Recommendations: Fresh lumpia rolls
- Price range: P50/lumpia
- Restaurant hours: Monday – Sunday 7:00 am to 7:00 p.m.
- Facebook: New Po Heng Lumpia House
637 Carvajal Street
A no-frills neighborhood establishment that’s been around since 1968. They serve Tsinoy “lutong bahay” specialties and other original recipes.
- Recommendations: Ku-tsai-ah (empanada), Sate Mi noodles (pancit guisado with crispy kangkong), Deep-Fried Tofu drizzled with sate sauce, Fried lumpia
- Price range: P40 – P200 per dish
PRESIDENT’S TEA HOUSE
809 Salazar St., Binondo
A popular Cantonese dim sum place known for their seafood, siomai, congee, noodles, hakaw and cheong fun. They serve some pretty good desserts like steamed custard buns with salted egg yolk and mango and sago jelly.
- Recommendations: Scallop dumpling, Peking duck, Steamed Custard Buns filled with Salted Egg Yolk, Mango and Sago
- Price range: P80-P400+ per dish
- Restaurant hours: 2:30 pm – 11:00 pm
AWI’S CAFE & RESTAURANT
520 E.T. Yuchencgco Street, Binondo
A modern Chinese cafe that serves some unique twists on typical Chinese dishes. The restaurant turns into a karaoke bar at night.
- Recommendations: Awi’s Lo Bihon, Coffee Spareribs, Gabi Cake covered with scallions and vegetables, Kuapao
- Price range: P130 – P220 per dish
- Restaurant hours: Monday to Saturday 8:00 am – 11:45 pm
- Facebook: Awi’s Cafe & Restaurant
SINCERITY CAFE & RESTAURANT
497 E.T. Yuchengco (formerly Nueva St.)
Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant is a family-owned establishment specializing in healthy and affordable Amoy dishes. They reputedly serve the best-tasting fried chicken in Binondo since 1956. Aside from chicken, they serve other specialties like BBQ spare ribs and oyster cake.
- Recommendations: Sincerity Fried Chicken, BBQ Spare Ribs, Fried Oyster Cake, Fried Kikiam, Fresh Lumpia, Shrimp Omelette, 8 Treasures Machang
- Price range: P120 – P320/dish
- Restaurant hours: Monday to Saturday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sunday 9:00 – 2:00 pm
- Facebook: Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant
MASUKI MAMI HOUSE
929 Benavidez Street
Originally known as Ma Kong Mami, this establishment still resembles a 1930s eatery. It specializes in classic mami noodles which come with spring onions and asado sauce and siopao.
- Recommendations: Mami noodles, siopao, siomao
- Price range: P60-P110/dish
- Facebook: Masuki Mami House
ESTERO FAST FOOD
Brgy. 297, Santa Cruz, Manila
Adventurous foodies usually make a stop at Estero Fast Food, so named because it’s located right next to an “estero” or creek/canal. The hawker-style stalls, the most famous of which is LGA Fast Food, offer a range of Filipino and Chinese dishes including a few exotic ones like Fried Frog’s Legs, which you can have cooked in different styles (adobo, butter, fried in garlic, etc.).
- Recommendations: Crispy fried garlic frog’s legs (eat at your own risk)
- Price range: P120 – P250 /dish
- Facebook: Estero Fast Food
KING CHEF SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
2/F Lucky Chinatown Mall, Binondo
This fine dining restaurant located in Lucky Mall Chinatown offers a variety of Chinese, seafood and Taiwanese specialties good for large groups holding business meetings or celebrating anniversaries and special occasions.
Food here is more upscale and expensive compared to most of the smaller eateries in Binondo.
- Recommendations: Seafood with Spinach Soup, Shrimp Bombs (coated shrimp balls filled with melted cheese), Dragon Boat (prawns seasoned with butter and melted cheese served with broccoli and crispy noodles), Peking Duck served three ways and Lapu-Lapu in Pomelo Sauce
- Price range: P300-P2,800/dish depending on size
- Facebook: King Chef
Ramada Manila Central, Ongpin cor. Quintin Paredes
Located at the Mezzanine level or Ramada Manila Central, a hotel right across the Binondo Church, News Café offers Western and Asian all-day dining with themed buffets during weekends. The cafe is decorated with photographs of scenes of Old Chinatown.
- Recommendations: Buffet
- Price range: P595 for Emperor’s Lunch buffet (every Sunday)
- Website: http://ramadamanilacentral.com/
SOUVENIR SHOPPING & TAKE-OUT
Binondo has a lot of stalls selling everything from Chinese medicine, dry goods, books, toys, trinkets and fresh fruits and delicacies. Cat not included.
Preserves and kiamoy
Traditional stalls where you can buy different nuts and Chinese preserves like plums, ginger preserves, dilis and kiamoy. A good stall is the one located at the end of Carvajal street, Alley Market.
There are lots of stalls around Binondo selling cherries, dragonfruit, strawberries, apples, persimmons, oranges, grapes and other fruits.
Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli
Delicacies and hopia in interesting flavors like pastillas, pandan and creamy custard. I’m a big fan of their Crispy Mikiron.
A family-owned bakery that sells an assortment of Tsinoy cakes, pastries and delicacies, including their bestseller – hopia.
Shanghai Fried Siopao
This small stall sells different kinds of Chinese food – hopia, kikiam, cuapao, but their best seller is the fried siopao, a meat bun filled with meat and vegetables. They also sell ma-chang, flavored sticky rice with bits of chicken, pork and chestnut.
By public transport, the nearest station to Binondo or Chinatown is the LRT-1, which is reachable via MRT-3. From the Taft Avenue Station, walk to the LRT-1 Station via the Crossway. From Taft-Edsa Station, buy a ticket going to Carriedo Station. From Carriedo Station, walk from Isetan Mall until you reach the old building of BPI which is across the Sta. Cruz Church. Here are various routes to get to Binondo.
Because of the traffic congestion and narrow one-way streets, it’s very difficult to bring a car and find parking in the area. A lot of locals use motorcycles instead. Once you get there, Binondo is best explored on foot or by taking a sidecar. This is also one of the few areas in Metro Manila where horse-drawn carriages or kalesas are still widely used to get around.
Binondo is a good food-trip biking destination but many establishments lack proper bike parking. If you’re bringing your bike to eat in the area, choose streetside restaurants where you can easily keep an eye on your bike. Bring a bike lock!
TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- Plan your route beforehand to maximize the number of restaurants you can try during your food trip.
- If you’re walking and want to save some money on drinks, bring your own water bottle.
- Wear simple, breathable clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Leave the jewelry, fancy clothes and designer bags at home.
- Keep your bag secure and take extra care of your valuables especially at times when the place is extra crowded (Chinese New Year, etc.)