Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :


04th January 2012, Wednesday.  In our last stop of our Binondo food trip inside Sa Lido Panciteria, one of the senior Chinese men seated at the table where I passed by to exit, called my attention and asked me, “Pogi, Pogi, saan ba lalabas iyang piniktyuran nyo, sa ‘NO RESERVATIONS’ ni ANTHONY BOURDAIN?“…..Me : “…po?  …In an instant, Ivan Man Dy approached him and explained that we will do some blog posts about it and not TV.

That moment reminded me that I was fortunate to be one of those who was tour-guided by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks just like what he did with Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations. I was silently smiling as I walked down the stairs out of that restaurant.

After Tina, my father-in-law (who’s now back in the US) and I attended Ivan’s invitation for him to tour us inside Malacanang Palace last December, he invited me and my family again for his Big Binondo Food Wok which I haven’t tried. Despite I have been to Ongpin Street and the rest of Binondo isn’t new to me, I was thrilled with the idea of going through the laterals of Manila again but this time, on a guided tour by the no-less than the main man himself of Old Manila Walks. He set the date to 4th of January, told me it would be his personal food tour of Binondo for us, and we’ll not be joining the other tourist.

Our vacation days went by and sadly at our last week in Pinas right after New Year, Gabby and I acquired cough manifested with fever :(. We’ve started on medications but as of this posting, we still have residual signs and symptoms. Because of this plus a handful of clearances that we had to secure from local government offices and our PRC license renewal, I almost turned down Ivan’s Binondo invitation. But things fell into places that I (and Gabby) felt better the night before the scheduled walking tour, and our documents were secured in a day. Thus, I was able to join the group of big time foodies (believe me, ako lang ang small time). I left my VERY OWN “BINONDO GIRL” at home to take care of our son and start packing our luggage back to Penang.

I was the last one to arrived at 1PM meet-up at the lobby of Binondo Church; thank God I was never late. We wasted no time and walked our way towards Carvajal Street….

One of the quintessential laterals of Binondo, Carvajal Street.

With lots of fruits, some carts with veggies, sun dried and smoked fish, some eateries and a bookstore, Carvajal Street is a long and narrow fascinating lateral of Binondo. It was my first time there, actually!

Our first stop was Quick Snack…Lesson: Do not underestimate simplicity of the signboard, food may blow your taste buds away! hehehe. 😀

Ivan mentioned we’re in for 3 of his personal favorite food places in Binondo that he doesn’t include in his usual tours; reason : will eat up time of his walking tour.

At Quick Snack, Ivan stuffed us with what he called appetizers….

This Tofu Dish is SURREAL! ...ang sarap!

My favorite was this tofu dish. I like its crisp and crunchy coating because it’s fried but remained soft inside. The sauce was simple but to die-for.

Also on our table were plateful of kuchay empanada. I’ve tasted kuchay dumplings both steamed and fried from another Binondo eatery, Dong Bei, but never a kuchay empanada. It was interestingly good.

Kuchay Empanada.

Oyster cake is one of the hawker dishes in George Town and the rest of Pulau Pinang however, in my 18 months of living and working here, I haven’t dared try it yet. I never thought that Binondo would give my palate a sample of this seafood delight. It reminded me of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pie.

Oyster cake

Tsinoy cuisine would not be complete without a noodle dish.

What was told by Ivan as a light merienda cum appetizer turned out to be a heavy one; we’re all stuffed at our first stop!  Then we walked towards the end of Carvajal which is Nueva Street, a spot in Binondo where paper, stationaries or school supplies and uniforms of all colleges and universities are being sold, in retail and in bulk. We entered a hopia place, one that’s familiar to me and my family other than Eng Bee Tin…

What's your flavor? Tell me, what's youf flavor. ... haha! 🙂

Inside Holand Hopia, Ivan quickly showed us the different flavors of hopia which are ALL being sampled in his Big Binondo Food Wok. He also featured some other delights that are must-have for the Chinese New Year celebration. Case in point, the tikoy or that glutinous rice cake. Apparently, it symbolizes unity and oneness, but now, tikoy is being brought to the next level with its impressive variant and flavor. Have you ever tried dunking your fork at a tikoy beautifully shaped as a kois? One of our former Tsinoy Nursing student before gifted me and Tina a box of it with a pair of kois-shaped tikoy. It took us days to stare at it and to decide whether to eat or not. 🙂

As my fellow bloggers’ eyes roamed around the small food shop, the moment became nostalgic when my eyes spotted those peanut-caoated angpaw. It reminded me of my maternal grandmother who raised us; angpaw was her favorite and I used to buy her a pack as pasalubong before.

Tikoy became so versatile in flavors. There’s that Ube and Mango tikoy. Have you tried these flavors?

Tsinoys or Filipinos in general are naturally innovative. They usually never run out of new ideas to introduce to the market. Inisde Holand Hopia, I first found HOPTIKS, a fusion of hopia and tikoy all in one! How amazing!

After Nueva Street, we found our way to Ongpin. We saw that famous peculiar street sign again at the corner of Salazar and Ongpin. I asked Ivan the reason why the first letter N of Ongpin was inverted, he replied it must be out of carelessness or plain stupidity. Regardless of the reason, it remains to be the most photographed street sign in Metro Manila.

Ivan pointed out to us the original hopia in Ongpin comes from this simple and unassuming bakery…

The old Tsinoy couple gave Ivan sample of their old-school hopia that’s still wrapped in red Japanese paper.

It’s obvious that Binondo is an interesting community at the heart of Manila. There’s food, there’s culture and heritage and there’s history. At a new age building where Sweethearts Balloons (for parties and all) and other establishments are located, this National Historic signage is posted that an ordinary Ongpin-goer would not easily noticed. The sign deserves a second look.

From Salazar and Benavidez Streets, we strolled towards the second restaurant, ROSSO. Here, Ivan wanted all of us to sample a uniquely delicious offering of a hot pot – Sichuan style!

Most of us are familiar with Yakimix, Tong Yang and other Hot Pots in the Metro but having it Sichuan style is totally different.  We began to order two variants –spareribs and chicken.  They were severd in stew. Ivan explained that the difference lies not only on the taste; as Sichuan is known to be spicy, spicier, spiciest, haha! but also on how you eat it. In the usual hot pot even here in Penang, you eat the broth with everything on it. In Rosso’s Sichuan style hot pot, you eat first the stewed meat then a new soup base would be pour before you mix the other ingredients. Quite interesting!

The sparerib stew was so delicious, I preferred it over chicken.

Ivan asked all the members of our group to order ingredients for our hot pot. The unanimous favorite is the cheese ball (a fishball like with melted cheese inside, yummy!).

Deliciously good! 😀

Another Sichuan dish that was served was Sichuan water cooked beef that’s so tender and flavorful…

But if there’s one thing that would make me go back to Binondo and eat at Rosso again, it’s this dish –Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork. This plate made me crave for a double cup of steamed rice!!! It was that good! There’s a burst of flavors in my mouth that pleasantly stimulated everything in my palate. It’s one of the best pork dishes I’ve tasted!

Then as we were almost struggling to eat more, Ivan brought us all to our final stop -Sa Lido Restaurant.

The second floor of that bank promises a coffee-panciteria area perfectly fit for Chinese men discussing their families and businesses with their old time friends.  If Starbucks Coffee didn’t hit Manila by storm, this type of panciteria would be the best option.

As I have surrendered to Rosso’s Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork as the best tasting food for that day, I thought twice when I tried Lido’s Pork Asado.  The slice of meat cooked in wood fire oven effortlessly melted in my mouth and offered its smoky delicious taste. I also considered this as the best Pork Asado in town. You will definitely like it even sans sauce or gravy. Two thumbs up and a must-try! 😀

Ever heard and tasted HOTOTAI? I’ve long heard of this soup dish but never have tried it until last week. Thanks Ivan, it was heavenly!

Hototai’s tasteful until its last drop. 🙂

Ivan never forgot to order his favorite siomai.

Asado buns and Camaron rebosado, anyone?

Again, a Chinese cuisine is never complete without anything to represent longevity. Ang sarap ng Lo Mee na to!

Lido serves one of the best coffee in town. I can’t choose between coffee and tea so I had them both.

And what a glorious day of eating Chinese food it was and so perfect to end it sweetly with Lychee and almond dessert. Yummy!

We ended our half day Binondo Food Wok with our gastric pits overflowing. Thank you so much, Ivan Man Dy and Old Manila Walks for that sumptuous treat! We truly enjoyed it. 😀

For the readers and followers out there who would like to experience Binondo in its most colorful and delicious ways, I highly suggest you join Old Manila Walks Big Binondo Food Wok on Chinese New Year. You’ll get a taste and stuffed yourself with Chinese cuisine, stroll with the dancing dragons and lions, and immerse with the diversity of Manila Chinatown has to offer with the best tour guide in town, Ivan Man Dy no less.  Below are the details of what’s in store for you.

the BIG Binondo Food WOK (Chinese New Year Edition):

Nibbling Our Way Through Chinatown

January 21 (Saturday) @ 1:00 PM- 5:30  PM (approx)
January 22 (Sunday) @ 8:00 AM-12: 30 PM (approx)

@: 2:00 PM-6:00 PM (approx)

January 23 (Monday 1st day CNY) @ 8:00 AM-12:30 P.M. (approx)


Happy Lunar Near Year!


Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

"Oh yes, its that time of the year again when we BINGE ourselves silly as we welcome the the Lunar New Year with a BIG, BIG BITE! It's the BEST time of the year to do the BIG Binondo Food WOK as the year of the rabbit hops away and we ROAR into the year for the Dragon!

So what are you waiting for? Let us paint the town RED, join in the festivities(while filling up our stomachs!) as we usher in the Lunar New Year in Chinatown!

Rate: P1,500.00/head (inclusive of tasting menu and lotsa fun and surprises!)
      **Slots limited.Book early!

And if you happen to be participating this wonderful tour and/or would refer this to your friends/relatives, please don’t forget to tell Ivan you read it here on my blog.  Maraming Salamat po!  *wink*



  1. Wonderful and intriguing photographs! I am a vegetarian who sometimes eats wild caught fish and I have to say the photo of the pork soup looks very tasty! I am curious about Filipino cuisine…actually did not know much about it until coming across these photos. They are amazing.

    1. thanks for dropping by here, how did you find my blog?
      welcome!!! 🙂 my photos actually do not justify the tastes of the food in manila.
      they’re more than meets the eye! 🙂

  2. i love this post! i felt like a kid looking at the fruit stand photo, as well as the one with hopia. i’m a sucker for mongo hopia. 😀

  3. patang nabusog ako sa post na ito! im craving especially for lychee!!!! 🙂

    believe it or not, as far as i remember, i haven’t eaten in binondo! i’ve bought ivan man dy’s map but haven’t gotten to use it yet. boo!

  4. Hi Doc,
    HELP! I emailed Sidney and Marlon Llovido (guy of UPA that Melissa Villa suggested) but for some reason I’m not getting any response from either and I am a very determined person and will try everything until i have the answer. 😉 fortunately, you are one of my other sources because you’ve been there (Ulingan)
    First, my apologies for using this forum … anyway, two of my friends and I are in the process of starting a non profit foundation to reach out to those in dire need. Would you be able to give us a name or email addy of somebody in Pinas whom we can connect with and talk about reaching out? i really appreciate whatever help/assistance you can give us and hope I’ll hear from you? God bless …

    Nance (FunNFamily)

  5. naglalaway ako. this is the kind of tour i really wanted to participate in. sana makajoin ako when i go home.

    sarap naman ng christmas break nyo, 3 weeks, haba nyan ah.

    1. you should join old manila walks tours manned by ivan no less. they have a lot of walking tours around the metro that i’m sure you’ll be interested with. question is, when will you find time to come home to pinas. 😀

      thanks, maria! happy 2012!
      and 3 week-work-break? bitin nga e! but we’re grateful of course to the Lord Almighthy!

  6. dyanie, nina, and i went to Binondo too, last weekend. we saw Ivan. hehe
    we’re on a diet, pero we cheated kasi ansarap ng hakaw at naicha. haay. 😀

    1. nice, chyng! remember, it was in binondo where i met you, dom and the other bloggers back in 2009. *nostalgic* haha! …diet? nah, moderation lang. chinese food, FTW! 🙂

  7. oh my goodness! naglaway ako sa kuchay empanada! mush have it! and also, i must go to one of ivan’s tours. never pa ako naka-experience ng pro tour kasi.

    happy new year, kuya doc! i hope this 2012 will be filled with more love and joy for you, (ate) tina and cutie gabby! at shempre pa, sana puno rin ng pagkain at photos! 😀

    1. jane chua, frannywanny and you failed to make it. i bet it could have been more fun if you guys were there too. sayang nga, sana nakasama ko din kayo!
      there must be some other time.

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