When in Binondo, the non-Chinese among us are often left in a quandary on where to eat without being challenged by price and menu choices. Our Chinoy friends who live right on Benavidez St. have long ago tipped us on where they go when the cook is on his day off. Here is a rundown of restaurants and food shops worth visiting.
Hopia. The most popular Binondo street is Ongpin and many would start their food buying spree at Eng Bee Tin for hopia. It seems to be the best-selling hopia in town and it has blazed the trail in making hopia ube, hopia pandan, and many other irresistible goodies. But a best kept secret among hopia connoisseurs is Holland Hopia. While on Ongpin Street, turn right on Nueva St. and walk for about 10 meters. There you will find Holland Hopia. This was the hopia lovers' favorite before Eng Bee Tin entered the scene. I like Holland hopia because it's less sweet than Eng Bee Tin's. Back in Ongpin Street, walk farther until you cross a bridge then turn left on Salazar St. A good landmark is the appliance store at the corner of Salazar and Ongpin streets. At the end of Salazar Street is Diao Eng Chay hopia factory. Besides hopia, Diao Eng Chay sells peanuts with garlic flakes, siopao, and many other delicacies. Cross the street enter Benavides Street where a row of Chinese restaurants await you.
President Restaurant. 746-750 Ongpin St. (near corner Salazar St.). Now under renovation, this could easily be the most upscale resto in Binondo. According to many accounts, most Philippine presidents have dined here, which perhaps explains why it is called President. President Restaurant and Waiying have the same owner but these two are miles apart in price, size of sevings, interiors, and ambiance. At President, there are so many items in the menu which are so scrumptious but our favorites are the white chicken (or Hainanese chicken) and hot prawn salad. The resto serves so many items, including those that are not on the menu. For instance, pancit canton is not on the menu but you can ask the waiter that it's what you want.
However, President Restaurant is closed for renovation.
President Teahouse - 809 Salazar St. Just around the corner from the President Restaurant is this tea house which serves excellent dimsum and noodles. Prices are cheaper than President Restaurant. There's also a pay parking opposite President Teahouse. Next to it, there's a Taiwan food store that you might consider dropping by as it has so many high quality Chinese food items (wife cake, husband cake, moon cake, etc.) that are so exquisitely wrapped, like Japanese stuff. For photos of the facade and goodies of President Teahouse, visit Wanderlust and Wish You Were Here.
Sincerity Restaurant - 497 Nueva St. (now Yuchengco St.) - opposite Trinity (an office supplies store) Order fried chicken, their famous specialty.
Golden Fortune Teahouse - 927 Benavidez St. Great food, newly renovated, comfortable and prices are reasonable. We used to go there quite often to order almond milk with ice, special tripe, beef brisket, mapo tofu and spare ribs, until it was renovated and the renovation took a year.
Wan Chai Restaurant - 918 Benavidez St. (opposite Golden Fortune Teahouse). The resto offers all the traditional Chinese dishes at reasonable prices. Try their dimsum, prawns or crab with sotanghon claypot, mapo tofu, mixed roast platter, and steamed fish head dimsum. As it gives good value for your money, you won't regret it.
Waiying Fastfood. This is one of our favorites. It is air conditioned but it's not for those who want peace and relaxation. But if you consider the food quality and reasonable price as a good tradeoff, then this place might just be for you The prices are very reasonable and the dimsums are so good. You can also take home all sorts of dimsum (siomai, hakaw, beef ball, etc.). Go upstairs (2nd floor) to avoid the chaos of a busy restaurant. When you go to Waiying, don't expect a fancy ambiance but think about the food and price. Based on the number of customers, this seems to be the favorite of the Chinoys. Here is where you will get the best value for money. Waiying sells a wide range of congee, chong fan, vegetables, dessert and drinks. Consider these prices: roast duck/asado rice - P120, roast duck/chicken rice - P120, lemon chicken rice - P100, yingyong rice - P100, steamed minced beef rice - P90, steamed chicken mushroom rice - P90, curry beef brisket rice - P90. For dimsum, here are the prices for 1 order: beef ball - P50, siomai - P55, chiu-chao dumpling - P50, hakaw - P60, kutchai dumpling - P50, vegetable dumpling - P50, etc. For drinks, Hong Kong milk tea - P40, HK milk tea cold - P45.