The agenda: To taste drive Ivan Man Dy’s new Big Binondo Food Wok Map with who else? None other than the boys behind happyfoodies.com — Ferdz Decena and Oggie Ramos. The place? It needs no further introduction to where the taste drive will commence — Binondo — of course.
Our meeting time was 11am at McDonalds. Oggie arrived two hours earlier. I arrived quarter past the meeting time and Ferdz came in last at 11:30. At quarter to 12 noon, the three of us begun the taste drive. Using Ivan Man Dy’s map as our guide, we walked along Ongpin Street towards our first taste drive destination — Benavidez Street. The street of Ongpin was so busy. Both the establishments and sidewalk vendors — left and right — are selling ornaments like the golden tiger hanging in front of their shops and other merchandise, such as the Buddhas, for the upcoming Chinese new year this February 14. Ongpin was filled with bustling vehicles — public and private — contesting who will get out of the cramped street first. It’s a chaotic scenario out there as we further approach the middle earth of Ongpin street!
At the corners of Ongpin and Salazar streets, we chance upon Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim with a horde of photographers, vendors, security aides and of course, the bystanders who relentlessly following him hoping to shake his hands and to have some photo souvenir from their cellular phones’ built-in cameras. And the reason for that event was, according to one of the personnel, the mayor is doing a photo shoot for an upcoming project and the Salazar Street was one of the location. And luckily, I was able to capture him on the scene. The photo below is the closest I can get to the “Dirty Harry” of Manila.
After the event, we shift back to our original plan — to have lunch on one of the restaurant enlisted on the map — Wai Ying. Unfortunately, the place was so jam packed. So, instead of waiting for a table to be vacant, we used the map to look for an alternative restaurant.
Luckily, we didn’t even get farther to look for one. Just a stone’s throw away of Wai Ying is another restaurant called Zhen Hu Fastfood. The specialty of the place are mainly steam dishes, ranging from chicken and duck to seafoods (please, do check out happyfoodies.com for the upcoming article on Zhen Hu Fastfood ).
After the lunch, as the map suggests, the three of us headed to different landmarks in and outside of Binondo. Hoping that we could find an appropriate subject for our common passion — photography. And look for places that the three of us, or at least one of us, have never been to.
As we test the map, there’s a particular landmark that the three of us have showed curiosity and interest — the Seng Guan Temple. As we searched for that temple, we found ourselves lost at the corner of Reina Regente and Veronica Streets. We even went around the narrow streets (looks like an alley) twice or thrice around the two main streets trying to figure out where exactly in Ivan’s map the said temple located. The good thing is, there’s Google Map to aid us for our search. And after some long walks, persistence paid off. We finally found the temple along Narra Street.
Approximately, 2-3 kilometers from where we first standing (corner of Reina Regente and Veronica Streets), we can see the temple’s dome already. But at first, we’re not sure if it’s really the Seng Guan Temple that we are looking for in the map. The dome’s structure is like a giant ice cream bell that accidentally fell from Shangri-La amongst the surrounding buildings 70 years ago (the time the temple was built).
After we hopped from one temple to another, we head back to Binondo particularly the Dong Bei Dumplings in Yuchengco Street — another hidden gem of Binondo. The guys told me that I should try this one out or I should never missed this one when in Binondo. And it holds true especially the Dong Bei pork and kutchay dumplings (PhP100/ 14pcs) and the fried stuffed beancurd (PhP160) (check out happyfoodies.com‘s take on Dong Bei Dumplings).
As much as I want to tell you my personal view on the food and on Ivan Man Dy’s new Big Binondo Food Wok Map, I’ll let happyfoodies.com do their initial review (then mine) on those two subject matter I’ve mentioned above since the guys have invited me for their regular “food walk”.
Until my next post of Binondo food walk…