Binondo Binge

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Binondo, comes a close second when talking about my favorite places here in Metro Manila. Food, shopping, great architecture and urban scenery, you can all find those here. I’ve been going to this quaint Chinatown since I was a kid. I remembered taking a summer job here when I was in my early college years, too, back when there were air-conditioned ferries that would take you from Guadalupe to Escolta.

I love the grit and rawness of Binondo. Both of the preserved and condemned old buildings would make you imagine how living here would be like in the past. I am a little sad that some of the buildings were not maintained and are currently in queue for demolition, though.

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I always make sure to drop by the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, also known as Binondo Church. It may look a little bland with its slate gray stones painted with reddish brown tones, but the interior is breathtaking. You can’t almost notice the fact that it’s in Chinatown because the influence is evidently European.

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I have always adored this fountain. Its location and elaborate decor take my breath away every single time. Too bad it now serves as a home for some homeless people. Hope they’d get shelters the soonest. We need to preserve spots like this, people.

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Afterwards, we went to Lucky Chinatown Mall. The architecture of the buildings are divine. I felt like I was in Macau with the art deco purely influenced by the Portuguese . The cream walls and teal windows look so lovely when put together.

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Famished from all the activities we partook that morning, we decided to fill our stomachs with the signature dishes of Binondo in Estero. It’s a small foodies nook near some creek that sells a variety of delicious Chinese cuisine, hence its name. I ordered frog legs dipped in sweet sauce and braised beef. You will never know that you’re eating frog legs unless you’re being told so. It tasted like chicken, actually. Other than being a little bony, I don’t have any problems eating it. I say that it’s a must-eat when in Binondo.

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With filled tummies, we decided to continue touring around Chinatown. What I love about this place is that it has maintained its cultural authenticity despite of all the modernization that’s happening. We saw these two ladies offering incenses on the shrine located in the corner of some street.

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A man braving the dirt and soot.
It was 3pm when we felt the urge to find somewhere to eat again. I proposed to go to this place I have known for quite some time now called, Dong Bei Dumpling. It used to be my favorite hangout spot in Binondo when I was in college. They offer homemade Beijing-styled dumplings, which I would tell you with all honesty, are the best dumplings I have tasted here in the Metro.  We ordered their famous steam dumplings. What’s unique about Dong Bei is that you can see how they’re doing it so closely. Like they’re literally doing it on the table next to you.
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Before we bid goodbye to this chaotic yet still charming little town, we took a quick stroll around so we can snap a few candid shots.

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Badass kid.
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She’s feeling the shot.
 
We took a quick stop at Eng Bee Tin to buy some mooncake or hopia to bring home. Eng Bee Tin has been a household name around the Metro. If you’re ever going to Binondo, it’s a must that you pay this staple Chinese sweets shop a visit. They keep on reinventing the flavors which had me coming back again and again.
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Here’s one more thing I love about Binondo, a horse-drawn carriage or kalesa. You can tour around the town by riding kalesas like this to make you feel more like a tourist.

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It was dark when we finally agreed to go home. I took photos of these Chinese lanterns lighting up the grounds of the Lucky Chinatown Mall because I wanted to end my trip with this sweet memory. These photos describe Binondo so perfectly. It’s bright, vivid and vibrant. Being in Binondo is like having a taste of what it would be like walking in the streets of Hong Kong or even Beijing, full of colors and life. I cannot wait until I set my foot on other richly-influenced places like Binondo.
DONG BEI DUMPLINGS
642 Yuchengco St, Binondo, Manila, Metro Manila
 
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ESTERO

Brgy. 297, Santa Cruz, Manila, Metro Manila
 
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ENG BEE TIN
Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila, Metro Manila