One great thing about Mon and I’s work set-up is that we are sometimes able to go anywhere on a whim. We had been chatting lately in passing that perhaps, we could drop by Ongpin and just have lunch. And today, we did.
With the rising oil prices, we had been trying to cut back on taking Grab. I think it is one of those conscious choice we had to make that even if we can afford it, it does not mean we had to do it.
We took a jeepney and then the LRT going to Manila.
Old Manila has always fascinated me. If the weather permits or if we have time, we usually just scoot around Manila especially towards dusk. There’s really something that’s very charming about this cityscape in the evening.
With full knowledge that we have a very problematic past as a country, I am still always in awe of Old Manila’s architecture and the what ifs if we were able to maintain its grandeur.
And I also always imagine the stories that these structures could tell. Only if the Intramuros walls could talk!
Okay, while I sometimes interchangeably use Ongpin and Binondo, I found out the difference just recently that Binondo is the district/enclave itself, while Ongpin is its most famous street at the heart of Chinatown. You learn new things everyday!
It was a cloudy day. We had our flip flops on and an umbrella in tow in case it rains while we were walking.
Despite it being a weekday, Binondo was still bustling. A lot of merchants, vendors and even shoppers were busy haggling with each other. You know you’re in Binondo as well because of the very familiar smell of spices in the air. It was enough to make your stomach rumble with hunger.
It was exactly our mission for the day: just eat lunch in Binondo. We had been frequenting this already famous restaurant, and we were getting ourselves ready for the line before we even reached the place.
As it was just the two of us, we managed to get a table only after five minutes of waiting. There were other groups of four and more, who already looked visibly hungry. It was already lunchtime after all.
The place was painted exactly how it was when I first visited this way back in the early 200s, as well as when we visited this in 2013 in the eve of Chinese New Year. I think this is the first place that people would think of whenever they see the same shade of paint everywhere else.
The prices on the menu changed a lot. Back in 2013 (menu in the link above from 2013), the lemon chicken rice was Php 130 and the steamed tofu was Php 50. In 2022, the lemon chicken rice is now Php 230 and the steamed tofu is Php 90. Hello inflation.
I thought it would be a luxury to eat here now with my salary 10 years ago. ^O^
For the food, we almost already forgot how the serving was. We just ordered and ordered. You want veggies? Sige, get one. Are we getting 12 pieces of friend siomai. Sure, why not! In short, it snowballed a bit that by the time our order arrived, our table was full.
Mon and I were nervously looking at each other if we could finish everything off. I personally do not make it a habit to leave anything on the plate. It is something I grew up with.
So we ate, and ate, and ate.
To our surprise, we managed to eat everything. Okay, towards the end, the fried siomai and the lemon chicken almost tasted indistinguishable from each other. But nobody’s wasting any food!
I did struggle a bit with the chopsticks as I eat the slippery dimsum with seaweeds around it. At one point, I had to poke it with one stick, and pretended it was two sticks pinching it just to properly eat it.LOL
We took our sweet time savoring everything on the plate that it took us almost an hour and a half just to have lunch. That was quite long of a stay inside a very busy restaurant. As we got out, there was still a queue of patrons waiting to be seated.
Walking around Binondo, it looked like it rained hard while we were eating. The streets were already wet, although it was still drizzling a bit. We also reached around Recto area and Carriedo, before we decided he were done for the day.
Where are we headed next? Home. While I mentioned we are trying to cut back on Grab, I just felt so haggard by the late afternoon.
Let’s just let take one Grab trip for now.