What started as a commercial partnership through barter, ages ago, became a lasting relationship. From our language, to our daily products, food, fashion and lifestyle, the Chinese culture has blended well with our own. One of the best ways to experience the color, feel, and flavors of China in this country is to visit the Manila Chinatown.
Chinatown Manila was established in 1594, which is said to be the oldest in the world. It is located in Binondo, Manila. Binondo is the home to a very old church founded in 1596. Binondo Church is also known as Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, named after the first Filipino saint who served as an altar boy in the same church. Lorenzo Ruiz is Filipino-Chinese by descent.
A trip to Chinatown cannot be complete without a dining experience. In fact, when you mention Binondo, food comes to mind first. There’s a long strip of eating places to choose from. You will never go hungry in this part of the world. Today, we decided to try Chuan Kee in Yuchengco St. corner Ongpin St. just behind Binondo Church.
The place was full for a morning visit. Looks like every day is a busy day for this place.
With Chinese songs in the background, Chinese-speaking guests coming in and out, and Chinese characters everywhere you look, you will surely be transported to a country, which is miles and miles away.
We asked for their most affordable bestsellers and here are what we were advised to taste:
From the inside of Chuan Kee, you can’t help but notice this signage. It’s inviting so why not give this a try too?
Cafe Mezzanine was featured in CNN’s World’s Best Chinatowns as a Must Visit Restaurant. Read more from this link.
A portion of this cafe’s income goes to the Binondo Fire Department, whose iconic purple truck is parked beside Binondo church.
The place is cozy and is a nice place to hang out and chat. You will find interesting photos of firemen in action and other related displays.
You may try their signature coffee, Mezza Blend, which is refillable at P70. Not bad at all!
Or if you want a sweeter coffee, you may try their Cafe Latte. They also serve pasta, burgers, pancit, halo-halo and sandwiches.
Like I said, the food here never stops. When you pass by the newly established Lucky Chinatown Mall, you might be lucky to stumble upon any of their fun events such as this one below. We happened to have experienced their Weekend Asian Street Food Market.
We tried the following:
Pork and Chicken Isaw @ P20-
They’re a little bit expensive compared to its real street prizes but, hey, extra bucks for the comfort.
Weekend Asian Street Food Market goes on Saturdays and Sundays of September.
This isn’t my first time in Chinatown. In fact, visiting this place again brings so many childhood memories. I was born in Manila. My parents used to work in Escolta and my regular trips to Sta. Cruz, Quaipo and Binondo are memories I will always treasure.
Chinatown has, indeed, a world of its own. While walking the streets of Binondo on my way home, I hoped that it gets to preserve its distinct culture and that it will never sell out. When I saw this roadside chapel still there, I was rest assured.