Binondo Chinatown: A trip to tummy-town Part II
Eng Bee Tin’s Hopia Ube
Eng Bee Tin is a very popular deli in Binondo where we bought lots of snacks and pasalubong (gifts) for our cousin. Actually, we passed by at least four different Eng Bee Tin shops throughout our tour around Chinatown, and not one of them was empty! We didn’t really know what we ought to get, but after asking the salesperson for their bestsellers, we got hopia in different flavours, tikoy (a rice-based pastry), mooncakes and fortune cookies. One pack of each was more or less P100 (€1.70), so we had no problems filling our bags with them. We ate one pack of diced hopia ube on our way to our next stop, and I must say, the famous deli deserved its renown.
Along Ongpin street lies our cousin’s most favourite Chinatown food: fried siopao. Siopao is a white bun with meat filling eaten just like bread back in Europe. We were told that fried siopao is unusual as most siopao here are served simply steamed. One siopao is P16 (€0.30), so we both got one for ourselves. I haven’t tried any other siopao in my life, but this one was hot, a bit crispy and very tasty.
This next stop we had to turn away from Ongpin street and into the small Carvajal street to get to Quick Snack, another of our cousin’s favourite. This restaurant served fresh lumpia and noodles, but we were there for one particular dish: oyster cake. The oyster cake or omelette they served here was chewy and affordable at P180 (€3). Quick Snack’s oyster cake is a bestseller among locals, but we had room enough yet for another local favourite, the Sate beef chami. For P135 (€2.30), we got a small but flavourful noodle dish.
We backtracked a bit and crossed Ongpin street to reach Dong Bei Dumpling along Yuchengco street. If you’re looking for the best dumplings in town, it’s here in Dong Bei. Here they serve xiao long bao (soup-filled dumpling) and the popular steamed kutsai dumpling. We ordered one each, which we ate slowly because we were already feeling full by then. The 6-piece xiao long bao was P90 (€1.55) while the 14-piece kutsai dumpling was P100 (€1.70). Dong Bei Dumplings was the perfect place to slow down a bit, by the way, because it was away from the busy Ongpin and because we were able to watch the women rolling the dumplings on one side of the room.
I think it’s important to remind those who plan to go on a food binge around Chinatown to bring their own drinking flasks or bottles of water. Not that there aren’t any in the restaurants, but portable water kept us hydrated during our walk around the area. We also stopped from ordering soda so that our tummies wouldn’t hurt from too much walking and to make room for more food.