Getting Lost in Binondo the Second Time Around

Sunday, July 21, 2013

PROLOGUE


The first time I went to Binondo was a mind-opening experience. It can be likened to an epiphany from some otherworldly and omniscient being. It thoroughly changed my mind about oriental cuisine. Plus, the ambiance was something that cannot be taken lightly. It is reminiscent of the time of horse-drawn carriage and Asyong Salongga. Ok, wait. A bit anachronistic, maybe, but I hope you get my point. 

I now understand what the phrase "a blast from the past" means. Because that's what I felt when I stepped foot in the little piece of chaotic order that is Chinatown. Wow, I'm getting in my makata mode all of a sudden. But seriously, Binondo has that effect of me. It's not an unwelcome feeling. I am actually finding myself wanting to have the exact sensation in my system once in a while. (I think Kapitolyo had found its match. Hehe.)

Ok. Enough about this whole "Binondo Effect". 

Last July 14, the day after our Tagaytay Foodscapade, I finally got to go with Dennis to his dorm in España Avenue. Yehey! :) I've been pestering him for some time now about this. So after taking a look at his dorm, we walked towards Recto and set out for Binondo. Woot woot!

IN A NUTSHELL

1.) You can never go wrong with gut feels. I was trying to remember where French and I went to get to Binondo. Alas, I got disoriented and totally forgot the way. Hahaha. We squandered quite some time going back and forth and trying to recall where to take a turn or where to head straight. I was so frustrated. Agh. I almost wanted to go home instead. Hahaha. Dennis was very patient me, he always is. I then decided to try our luck by taking a reasonable but random left. After a number of strides, I saw a security guard and asked for directions to Ongpin. We kept walking and found ourselves near the Binondo Church. I was astounded. French and I didn't get to go on this part of, er, town. I told Dennis we'd buy some Custard Hopia first before we decide on doing something else. So we walked and walked until we found the Eng Bee Tin near Cafe Mezzanine. The whole time, we were just relying on our gut feels and horrible sense of direction. Hahaha. But you know, gut feels are almost often right. So hoorah! 
In any event, we rewarded ourselves with some Custard Hopia and Ube Custard Hopia, plus some preserved cherries (which Mama loved).

Goodies from Eng Bee Tin
By the way, I found that the cherries taste a lot like Haw Flakes. :))

2.) I've found the Kiamoy that I was looking for. Soon after loading up on some Eng Bee Tin treats, we walked back towards Salazar Street and went to Bee Tin Grocery. (I promised one of my highschool teachers that I'd buy her some kiamoy when I return to Binondo.) While browsing the wide array of odd and interesting products, I saw this:
Kiamoy Candy
"Eto yung hinahanap ko!" I shrieked in delight. I grabbed three packs of this (54php/pack), three packs of Haw Flakes (18php/pack), and a large pack of the icky salty kiamoys (for Ma'am Janeth). I felt that it was my lucky day because we've found another piece of Chinatown treasure:
Gummy Tamarind Plum and Orange Peel
I got immediately addicted to this. I finished the whole thing in one sitting. I told Dennis we should buy more of this the next time. I also loved how it came with a fork-like thingy:
It had the usual tamarind taste with a bit of refreshing acidity and mild bitterness from the orange peels. I had such a great time gorging them down. :)

3.) We couldn't find my xia long baos. Now that we were fully armed with odd treats, we decided to look for the xia long bao that I've been hearing and reading about. French and I weren't able to get a taste of this when we were there so I was resolved to sink my teeth on this soupy dumpling. Alas, I forgot the name of the establishment and ended up in Tasty Dumplings. Hahaha. I am such a lousy navigator.

The wrong turn didn't turn out so bad. Since we already got ourselves comfortable, we decided to try some of their dumplings. We had the:
Dumplings
 Yes, they're called simply that. Dumplings. I loved it. They were very chunky and the wrapper (?) was  cooked al dente. Nomnomnom.
Fried Kuchay Dumplings
These smelled heavenly. Dennis loved this. They were crispy and not oily as you'd imagine. Here's what the filling looks like:
I've no idea what kuchay is and I don't really care. I just care that it tastes good. Let's not complicate things. Hehe.

In any case, I found our snack quite filling. It's a good thing we had a long way to walk before we had our proper meal. (Hint: Aloha oi!)

BOTTOMLINE

Despite the epic failure by yours truly, we still got to enjoy Binondo. I told you, it has that effect on me. Plus, I get to spend time with Dennis and share this little adventure.

Don't we look good together? <3
This won't be the last time I visit Binondo. I'm coming for you, my little xia long baos.

Cheers to the next adventure!

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