The Yummy Convolution: Ying Ying, Wai Ying and Lan Zhou La Mien

What's new, Chinatown?

Even a part-time Binondo resident can get lost in the centuries-old labyrinth of a plethora of establishments in Chinatown. The food adventure story starts when I ask the hubby to take me to Wai Ying. I was happy I didn’t have to traipse solo through narrow esteros later in the day when he says he’s been there with foodie Johnny. From the end of Yuchengco (formerly Nueva) Street, we walked to the corner of Dasmariñas Street. My eyes roll in amusement — the signage reads Ying Ying.

Because he says food is good, I decided to forego my Wai Ying ambition. Didn’t you notice? We passed by metered parking in Chinatown. Instead of coins, you put in prepaid cards available at the moment from Manila traffic aides.

Ying Ying  Tea House

I can’t complain, food is great at Ying Ying! The throng of eaters at 7 AM says it all. Biting the greaseless taro puff’s dainty flaky pastry and into the creamy taro layer and ultimately the centermost blob of flavorful minced meat, amplified with bold Hoisin flavors in the dipping sauce is a breath of fresh air.

Reny gets his dumpling soup. I get carried away and order Valenciana roll. Intrigued is the better word. I was expecting something like a round machang. Nevertheless, the sticky rice-centered pao is fine as well.

Dumpling Noodle SoupTaro PuffsTaro PuffValenciana Rolls (Sticky Rice Rolls)Benavidez St., Chinatown, Manila

Later in the day, in Benavidez St., (try to look into the photo right above) he seems to walk in the direction of Wai Ying.

Wai Ying Roasting

Meanwhile, I take photos of the little Wai Ying Roasting store. He tells me he’s bought roast goose a couple of times from the store. He was standing in front of a restaurant right next to the meat store. I don’t know how it happened in a jiff — we got ourselves seated in that eatery, ordered cha hohon, took photos inside, scribbled down notes. He hears me say Wai Ying and then he says matter-of-factly, “We are not in Wai Ying.” You’re right! I enjoy the beef hohon!

Lan Zhou La MienLamien Noodle Stretching

We were at Lan Zhou La Mien. Lamien is a kind of hand-pulled noodles, their specialty.

Beef Cha Hohon

It’s my first encounter with stir-fried noodles in lots of tomatoes. The flat rice noodles were nice to the bite. I’m saving another day for the spaghetti-like tomato noodle.

Wai Ying

The Wai Ying I’ve been searching for happens to be at the other side of the Wai Ying Roasting, about 2 stores away. It was glutted, so maybe next time.

A happy weekend, everyone!

Wai YingChinese delicacies

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Over dim sum and cha at President

While talking on the phone, a Manila resident friend (a friend since nursery school) and I agreed to meet at a convenient place for both of us. Kindred spirits, we were thinking of only one place — President in Chinatown.

I was looking forward to sample the eats at the spruced-up President Grand Palace on Ongpin Street, the favorite of presidents and politicos. Ay yay yay! Without my knowing, before lunchtime, the hubby already instructed Alma to go to the President Tea House (the old little dim sum place on Salazar St.), just a few steps away from the President Grand Palace.

So, we meet at the little President.

Barbecue pork buns and hakaw  (shrimp dumplings) for Alma, while I got salted egg cream buns (super yummy!) and kutchay (chives) dumplings from the dim sum cart. And then ordered another radish cake.

Salted Egg Cream BunsSalted Egg Cream BunSteamed Radish Cake

We spent a good three hours talking more than eating. There’s no better place for two close school friends to make-up for lost time than in a tea house where hanging out too long is the fashion. T’was refreshing talking about life, work and the causes closest to our hearts. We come from an all-girl school run by nuns. I told her — it’s only now that I realized the significance of the things we were obliged to do in school like compulsory mission and Youngster subscription. We were being prepared for adulthood… the bigger picture. Alma works at Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s charity organization that helps treat facial deformities such as cleft lips & cleft palates. The first time I’m writing this, I thank God for the Holy Spirit Sisters (Ssps) for being part of our growing years.

(Thanks, Alma, for being a wonderful friend.)

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012

Some Old Manila Streets

Spotted: Streets of Manila camera strap by Nathania Gail Go
Spotted: Punchdrunk Panda “Streets of Manila” camera strap on blogger Jonver David. Designed by Nathania Gail Go and available at Punchdrunk Panda.

It refreshes me of my own little pedicab tour around Old Manila streets:)

Aduana Ruins

Intendencia (Aduana) Ruins, Aduana cor. Muralla Streets, Intramuros, Manila. Built in the 1820s and reconstructed after the 1863 earthquake, the building once housed the Spanish colonial government’s customs offices and other administrative units. It was damaged during the war, but survived only to be heavily damaged by a fire in 1979. It also used to be the Central Bank of the Philippines.

Plaza de Binondo aka Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz

Plaza Calderon de la Barca renamed to Plaza de Binondo and again renamed to Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz after Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint venerated by the Roman Catholic Church. The plaza is situated between Reina Regente and Juan Luna Streets, and right across the Binondo Church aka Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz.

Lucky Chinatown

Only about two blocks away from the Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz is the newly-opened Lucky Chinatown mall, along Reina Regente Street. A welcome relief in the Binondo area, it houses nice establishments like UCC Coffee Café, Starbucks, Bon Chon Chicken, Pancake House, Italianni’s Restaurant, Bread Talk, Mango, All Flip Flops, Beauty Bar, Toy Kingdom, Adidas, Shoe Salon, Celine, Payless Shoe Source, Folded and Hung, Bayo, Cinderella among many others. When in Manila, I usually stay at my in-laws’ apartment on the vintage building right next to the  Binondo Church, so now, the mall is a more convenient alternative for a bakasyonista like me. Binondo levels up especially with the presence of comfortable movie theaters and a Gold’s Gym in the mall. An interesting juxtaposition, just a stone’s throw away from Lucky Chinatown is the bargain haven 168 Mall. Shoppers in the Chinatown/Divisoria commercial district can now have the best of both worlds.

UCC Coffee Café, Lucky Chinatown, Binondo, Manila

Spent an hour at the UCC Coffee Café. I wasn’t in the mood for its famous coffee. All I wanted was something hearty before heading back home to Laoag.

UCC Coffee Café, Lucky Chinatown, Binondo, ManilaUCC Blue Mountain Coffee

Blue mountain coffee is a pricey UCC (Ueshima Coffee Company) blend characterized by a clean, smooth taste with no aftertaste. UCC set the trend for Japanese canned coffee in 1969 and became more popular specifically with anime fans around the world after their canned coffee was featured in the 1997 The End of Evangelion and again featured in the 2007 award-winning animated science fiction film Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone.

UCC Coffee blendsJapanese spaghetti with salmon and spinach in creamy white sauce

My hot Japanese spaghetti with salmon and spinach in creamy white sauce hit the spot. The serving was rather small for the hefty price.

Oh, how I miss the old Selecta in Roxas Boulevard! I just had to try UCC’s own avocado ice cream. Surprisingly, as far as I can remember, it’s on par with the ice cream from my childhood. I delighted in its perfect texture and sweetness. Again, I wish they gave a bigger scoop. If only I could bring home the whole UCC:(

Some kind of wonderful, some friends happened to dine at the cafe and insisted on picking the tab. Indeed, lucky in Chinatown:)

Avocado ice cream

I did a little shoe shopping. The rainy days are here to stay, so I looked around for flat jellies. Melissa had what I had in mind, though it was hard choosing among the many styles and pretty colors.

Mel by Melissa Marula sandalsMel by Melissa Cacao T-Bar Sandal IIMel by Melissa Citrus II flattiesMel by Melissa Citrus II jelliesMel by Melissa Citrus II jellies in glass
In the bag

I decided on the tasseled Mel by Melissa Citrus II in Prada-esque glass. In case you’re wondering why I chose a pair of plastics, Melissa jellies are vegan, made of 100% recyclable non-toxic, breathable PVC, making them eco-friendly. Rainy day street style. More on jellies in a separate post.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012