My San Francisco-based sister TJ and her husband Rupert were recently in town for a visit, and they wanted to try going on Ivan Man Dy’s Binondo food tour. John and I went with them one Saturday morning, joining a group of about 15 other people. The Big Binondo Food Wok is a walking tour that passes through street stalls, food alleys, small wet markets, and traditional shops. Our guide, Ivan Man Dy, is a cultural activist born and raised in Binondo, and entertains the group with historical information and cultural trivia, peppered with a little bit of current news.
I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the food included in the tour are vegan-friendly, or can be veganized! I’m pescetarian, but try to follow a vegan diet most days. Here are some of the vegan dishes I enjoyed on the food tour: Fresh lumpia from New Po Heng Lumpia House. This is really good fresh lumpia! Ivan said that we could asked for second or even third servings, and I was more than happy to do so. The restaurant usually serves their lumpia with a bits of pork and shrimp, but just let Ivan know in advance if you’re vegan/vegetarian, and he’ll make arrangements for you. Spicy tofu with cilantro from Quick Snack. This dish combines three things I love: tofu, cilantro, and spice! Vegetable dumplings from Dong Bei. You see the restaurant staff hand-rolling the dumplings as soon as you enter the door. They use some ground pork in the dumplings, but made me a platter of all vegetable ones. Mango sago from President’s. The tour usually ends with dessert, and mango sago is a Filipino-Chinese classic. After President’s, Ivan took the group to Polland to nibble on various hopia flavors and do some pasalubong shopping.
My mom’s office used to be in Binondo, and my dad still works there to this day. I used to go to Binondo all the time as a kid! It was ,fun to go back and see how things have changed, and how in many ways everything looks exactly the same.
Manila’s Chinatown is a colorful and interesting place with amazing food options; anyone who is interested in food or photography or history is sure to the tour.
Rates are at P1,200 per head, inclusive of food. Check out the tour schedule here, and email email@example.com to book your slot.