While virtually every country in the world has its own version of Chinatown, the one in Binondo, Manila holds the record of being the oldest. Established in 1594, Manila Chinatown occupies about a square kilometer of land bustling with commerce, culture and religious fervor.
Manila tour guide Ivan Man Dy calls Chinatown “Manila’s culinary wonderland; its food, culture, history and streetlife in one fascinating district.” Some restaurants like the iconic Original Savory restaurant, known for its classic fried chicken, dates back to the 1950s. The original restaurant was razed by a fire in April 2015, but has since reopened ( 201 Escolta St. Sta. Cruz, Manila?, tel +632 2418782 ) and has several branches in Metro Manila.
Other must-try Binondo restaurants include Wai Ying (810-816 Benavide St., 1006 Manila, tel +632 243 6665), Sincerity Café (497 E. T. Yuchengco St, tel +632 241 9991), and the Original SaLido (839 Ongpin St., Sta Cruz Manila).
Dy's favorite stops are the old ma mi houses and panciterias (noodle houses), serving various types of noodles and steaming congee. And the best noodle house, according to food critic and writer Clinton Palanca, is Ling Nam (616 T. Alonzo Street, Santa Cruz, Manila, tel +632 733 5231). It serves the best beef brisket and wonton noodle soup in town. Not the most authentic, but the most adapted for local taste. There’s only one branch worth going to and that’s the one in T. Alonzo Street. Dinner for two will cost around P500-P600 (about US$10) with drinks. A solo order of beef wonton noodles is an affordable P170.
Book Man Dy’s “The Big Binondo Food Wok” , a three and a half-hour tour that takes tourists through 400 years of history and culinary indulgence, with stops at Plaza Calderon dela Barca, Basilica de San Lorenzo Ruiz, Santo Cristo de Longos Shrine, Ongpin Street, traditional Chinatown shops and restaurants and the Carvajal Alley Market.
Here's our food critic's guide to 8 of the best Chinese restaurants in Manila.
Published January 2017