Spur of the moment plans are often the best laid plans. And my trip to Binondo was just like that. My friend said, “I want to go on a foodtrip to Binondo” and I said, “Let’s do it”. And so we did.
It was so fast. Suddenly the was conquering the busy streets of Manila and finding places with my map. We got there at 1130am and was out of Binondo by 630pm. That’s about 7hours walking from street to street, devouring all kinds of Chinese treats.
I love food trips–scratch that–I love food and many people do not believe me but I am a very talented eater. Also, I am very proud of that. Anyway, if you’re planning a foodtrip (to Binondo or anywhere else), here are some useful tips:
- Plan your conquest. It’s easy to get inundated by the many choices in Binondo, so don’t go there without a plan. The most successful food trips will be one with a bullet list to hit, so get yourself organized. I used Google, blog reviews, and FB crowdsourcing to gather information. There is a downloadable food MAP you can use–so get than and have fun. I think some people will “wing it” and that’s good too but the problem with this is there are consequences to being disorganized, sometimes.
- Prepare your body, mind and soul. When I’m set to EAT, I make sure to prepare. I do not eat too much, prior, but I take some food to condition my body. Never come into a food battle, STARVING or FULL, or you’ll be defeated. It takes a level of preparedness to come out truly victorious. For a foodtrip in Binondo, be prepared to do a lot of walking. My watch logged in about 10,000 steps for the 7hours we spent in the place and by the time we were done, I was thoroughly wasted (but heartily satisfied). Finally, keep an open mind and be patient. Some places will involve a lot of waiting such as Sincerity, Delicious and Wai Ying. For instance, we spent 1 1/2 hours queued at Dong Bei Dumpling before we got to taste their lovely kutchay. The place is small and it’s very popular, so be prepared if you are going to put this on your list.
- Practice self control and learn to prioritize. If you are intent on going around and trying out different things, you need be have self control. I’m not a fan of rice, so it wasn’t a problem. But do not order rice if you don’t want to get full, right away. Also don’t allow the menu to overhwelm you. Look at your itinerary and stick to the plan. For every restaurant you have to find out their speciality and order the basics. Our first stop was the hardest because we didn’t have breakfast and after the long wait for a table, we were already starving. But we couldn’t eat too much because we had and 5 more restaurants to conquer. We decided to have the rest of the food to-go. It was necessary or we’d fail the whole challenge. Another tip: we decided to skip Sincerity, Mr Ube, President’s and some other famous names because they already have branches outside of Binondo.
- Enjoy mini breaks. Whether your break is the walking stretch from one place to another, a shopping trip for hopia and other Chinese treats, or the long queue to secure a table, savor it. Mini breaks are good because you get enough space in your tummy, to add some more. During our wait at Dong Bei Dumpling, the sun was quite strong. Thankfully there was a nearby lemonade vendor so we enjoyed a refreshing drink.
- Sharing is caring. To be more effective, we combined our money and we shared all the food we ordered. In Tasty Dumplings and New Po Heng Lumpia House we were already stuffed but we still had to visit Masuki Noodle House, so to go through with the plan, we shared one breaded porkchop meal and lumpia. Then in Shanghai Fried Siopao, we just ordered a few pieces to-go and had it with coffee, during our recap session, at the end of the trip. If our other friend made it to Binondo with us, we would’ve tried more food/restaurants, so make sure to invite more people. This will allow you to order more food and add more stops to your restaurant hop.
- Have loads of fun. Our trip to Binondo was just a few days after Chinese New Year so we missed the festivities, but there were still pretty lanterns. It was a fun adventure and it was lovely to meet “foodtrippers”, like ourselves. We met two groups and we all shared our itinerary with each other. Actually, most of the people we met where there to for the food-hop, so we compared notes.
By the end of our 7-hour food trip I was desperate for rest and coffee. I felt truly victorious but I also know that we could’ve done better. My friend and I conquered SIX food stops–I was absolutely knackered, but thoroughly fulfilled. Maybe one day, I’ll conquer Binondo again and visit more than six places.
Anyway, have you been on any recent food trips? Do you have any tips?