The Big Binondo Food Wok

The Philippines and China go way back, even before the conquest of the Spaniards. As early as the 10th century, trade was already happening between Filipinos and the seafaring Chinese. That cultural exchange included beliefs, customs, clothing, technology, and of course food!

What better way to celebrate Filipino and Sino relations than to partake in the scrumptious cuisine brought to us by the Chinese?

Enter The Big Binondo Food Wok by Old Manila Tours. The food walk tour is basically a roving palate-pleasing exercise. Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Tours leads a flock of people to taste the various culinary wonders of Binondo and explore the impact and heritage of the Chinese on Philippine culture.

Brandishing a mobile speaker and microphone, Ivan began the tour with infectious energy as he led a contingent of medical pharmacists to Binondo, the Philippines’ Chinatown and one of the oldest Chinatowns outside mainland China.

Together with Mango Tours and covered by ABS-CBN’s Balitang America with host Gretchen Malalad, the group made its first stop at a known restaurant to sample its authentic lumpia. The lumpia, had a fresh bite to it due to the fresh vegetables and was accentuated further by the spicy sauce that is poured over it. It was a good way to kick off the tour.

Mr. Ivan Man Dy showing Grace Malalad the way to pour the lumpia’s sauce

Up next was volunteer fireman’s coffee shop on Ongpin Street. Kiang Pong (stir-fried rice mixed with peanuts, spring onions, nuts, and other seasonings) was sampled together with bola-bola soup (soup with an authentic fishballs). The trick here according to Ivan is pouring a little of the soup over the Kiang Pong which tastes even better when moist. He then shared the story behind the Tsinoys’ volunteerism and dedication towards fire prevention and safety. Willing participants also donned the fire helmet caps found on the walls of the restaurant, there was also a fireman’s hose that made great photo ops.


Gretchen Maladlad looking around

Ivan then took the gang to a small restaurant on Yuchengco Street. It was amazing to see the actual preparation of the dumplings just beside the entrance. Dy gave a short history lesson about dumplings and their Northern Chinese origin. He also told the group about the idea behind lauriat or why Chinese diners are always brimming with pleasant noise.

Ivan welcomes the group to sample dumplings

Dumplings being prepared

Gretchen Malalad goes for a bite

Benavidez Street, Binondo’s main food street, saw the group chomping down on crispy siopaos. The siopao, which means “hot bun” in Chinese, was delectable. Ivan delightfully joked around about the myth of feline-filled siopaos. Luckily, the siopaos handed to everyone weren’t made of cat meat.

Ivan talks about the secret Siopao

The tasty and crispy siopao

The last stop was at a popular bakery shop . It was a Chinese delicacy haven and where heavenly hopia or bean-filled pastry could be found. The group indulged from one flavor to another but the classic Ube and Mongo remain the favorites.

Packs and packs of delicious hopia

Walking through a small street called Carvajal to head back to the Lumpia house for the parting words gave a close-up view of the Tsinoy’s dedication and hardwork. Every stall was filled with different food products and goodies. After passing by the street’s sights and smells, Ivan Man Dy finally ended the walking food tour binge by giving away Big Binondo Food Wok maps as a guide to those who were willing to satisfy their gustatory curiosity the next time they visit Binondo.

Busy Carvajal Street

Ivan and the Big Binondo Food Wok maps

Ivan Man Dy being interviewed by Gretchen Malalad

The Great Binondo Food Wok was an interesting history lesson and palate pleaser, carefully wrapped like the lumpia with all the necessary ingredients to entice the minds and taste buds of everyone.