Food Trip 22: The Ultimate Ongpin Food Adventure, plus a sidetrip at Conti's for Dessert

I think I was born chinese in my past life, mainly because I love those wrapped up little treats like lumpia, siomai and other dainty dumplings that Chinese cuisine is known for. Haha. But then maybe during the course of history my blood  has been combined with the natives, thus my skin color today. Lol. Pardon me, I just woke up and I'm still not in the right state of mind. Hehe.

Anyway, the luckiest person on earth, who is also my friend,  Debbie, just got the whole week off from work. (while my most wanted one-day leave won't even materialize!) Of course I demanded she meet up with me :)

The following activities are unplanned, but that's exactly how we want it to unfold. To search for the unknown, and to just explore the city with untrained eyes. Its also more exciting for us, not knowing where to go makes your senses more alive, and by that I think we got to appreciate more of Manila, the smell, the look, its vibe.

Our journey started with an LRT ride from Edsa-Taft to Carriedo. Carriedo, as we all know, is where you stop to go to Binondo. I know Binondo from how Jose Rizal described it in his novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, an enclave of Chinese immigrants doing commerce and trade. Going there still feels like how Rizal saw it in his time, but now combined with overpopulation and slight modernization. Once you descend from the LRT station, the pandemonium begins: loud horns from jeepneys and tricycles, sweat from street peddlers and people going to Binondo Church, dilapidated structures still reminiscent of the Spaniard time, horse poop (yes, calesa still roams the streets of Binondo) .Ultimately this is how Binondo looks like. Pretty exciting. huh?

Since Binondo is quite big, and we only have an afternoon to spare, we decided to go straight to the heart of Binondo, Ongpin Street, also known as Manila's China Town.

the narrow and long street of Ongpin
Ongpin is famous for gold and jewelry, as evidently seen by a lot, and I mean a LOT, of stores dedicated to that, much like how all the Collette Buko Pie stores are lined up along National Highway in Laguna.

Our first stop, which is obligatory to those who go to Ongpin, is Eng Bee Tin. Known for traditional chinese delicacies such as hopia, moon cakes, tikoy and kiamoy, this has become the go-to-place if you want to have that quick chinese treat fix.

Much to my delight, I found a lot of stuff I've never seen before:
Special Spring Roll (Big) P52

I'm telling you now, don't buy this one. Haha. It's simply oily fried wrapper, with a slight shrimp flavor. Not good at all!
Hopia Mochaccino  P39, A coffee-flavored hopia!
Our next food find is the Fried Siopao!!

We bought this from an establishment with only a placard that says "Shanghai Fried Siopao". They didn't allow me to take pictures of their store activities so I just took some product shots at the restaurant we went to after. The fried siopao store has no dine-in, so its just a buy-and-go kind of transaction. Debbie totally adored the fried siopao, which has a crunchy filling similar to that of lumpiang shanghai, coupled with the tender white siopao bread. It was so heavenly, and for a price of only P60 for 4? You can't beat that! No wonder a lot of people are raving about this kind of siopao.
Found this one on the net, I think this is the establishment where we bought our fried siopao.
Debbie and I were in a mood for some dumplings after that, and walking a bit more we found Suzhou Dimsum:
Complimentary Hot Tea
Steamed Kuchay Dumplings (P100)
Kuchay is a long stemmed plant native to China. Debbie didnt like this one because it tastes like watery vegetable. Hahah.

Xiao Long Bao P80, or simply pork dumpling
Fried Spicy Chicken Wings (P210)  I think this dish is not chinese enough, but we wanted the chicken. Chicken Charlie's still number 1 though. This comes next. :)

You think we'll be full by that time, actually, yes we were, but we're still hungry for more adventure. So we wandered further and found Estero:

Why Estero? Simply because its located beside an actual estero, or canal. It smells like one too, definitely not for the faint hearted. Estero's got those nonedescript rows of eateries specializing mostly on everything and anything. The food here is also dirt cheap, you can pick any kind of meat or seafood, and choose how you want your meat to be cooked. What caught our attention are those frogs lined up beside the common chicken and fish selection:

And since this day is all about adventure and exploration, we just have to try it!

Debbie looking squimish, hehe.

Frog legs cooked the sweet and sour way.(P115)

This is definitely a barfing moment, haha. The frog meat is a cross between fish and chicken, but in a very stenchy, fishy kind of way. Maybe if we didn't know its frogs we're eating, we would have liked this dish. The thin bones, veins and frog feet are a turn-off too. One try is enough to last me a lifetime, Kermit.

Its almost 7pm when we gave up with Ongpin. Our next adventure came from this short conversation (translated):

Debbie: Have you heard of Conti's? Dondon (one of our college classmates) wants to go there.
Me: Yep, where's that again?
Debbie: There's a new branch at Trinoma I heard. 
Me: Let's go there for dessert.
Debbie: Ok.

Haha. So we went back to LRT, then rode the MRT to reach Trinoma Mall.

All I've heard is that they have these killer cake and dessert selections, all at a reasonable price.I think this was the best choice for us to end our food escapade, even though we have to wait since there's a lot of people dining that day.

For dessert, we had:
Almond Choco Sansrival (P90)

Mango Tart (P80) The best among the rest!!!!! Cold and refreshing, a clean break from the overly sweet cakes we had.
Viennese Mocha Torte (P95) Meringue sandwiched between layers of mocha mousse and chocolate cake
Black Velvet (P85)
Cake Overload!!!!
Whew, that really was a long,satisfying gastronomic experience.

I've been bitten, bitten by the adventure bug. Life is really all about these kind of explorations and discoveries. As someone said, the world is really just...AWESOME. :)


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