We have never been to Binondo on a Chinese New Year’s Eve and we have dedicated an afternoon to visit the place today. The familiar sight and sound (and even smell) of Chinatown exploded exponentially more than the usual, and it was brimming with red and gold everywhere. I felt bad for the people driving because it was really difficult to move around, with the number of people walking and doing their shopping, as well as lion and dragon dances performed in every street, at virtually every ten minutes.
When we reached the Ongpin North Bridge, we were already drenched with sweat and firecracker smoke, but it was really an awesome experience that I did not mind. I was already wearing a white polo shirt with my red shorts, but decided last minuted before leaving the house to change to a more comfortable shirt. It was a good call because I could have looked more haggard.
We’ve been itching to get our hands on the merchandise being sold, but we decided that it was better to buy them after eating our early dinner. I saw a row of stalls selling beaded bracelets, so I had a mental note to buy something later.
Reaching Waiying Fastfood was easier compared to the wait we did just to be seated. We originally waited on the first floor but Mon went upstairs and was able to get on the waiting list as the fourth person. We arrived at around 5:15 PM and it was already jampacked. When we got our table 15 minutes later, more people came in and it was mayhem. At 6:00 PM, there were people already queueing by the stairs and they get a bit snarky whenever a bunch of people came in and just seat themselves without any regard to the waiting line. It was vicious. LOL
We ordered a mix of dishes we have not yet tried, as well as others we have always loved. Since I started eating here in Waiying with some of my friends (Johann introduced this place to me) back in 2002, I fell in love with the steamed tofu but have never changed my order of either lemon or soy chicken. But since it was Chinese New Year, I decided to try the roasted duck. I don’t have a refined palate and I can’t tell the difference between it and a roasted chicken. However, I noticed that I kept on chewing on bones and had to spit a lot every after bite. Mon, on the other hand, ordered lemon chicken and it was amazing as ever.
They barely changed their prices as well. I can’t remember their listed prices when we were last here, but they were very reasonable as you can see from their detailed menu below:
Night fell and Binondo just exploded more with lights and color. The prices of some of the things sold were lessened as well, maybe because it was already night time and the New Year was barely four hours from that time.
We have entered some of the stores selling figurines and lucky charms, and Mon tried to haggle on golden snakes and bracelets. In one of the stores, we were able to buy three bracelets. Two of the same kind for both Mon and I, and another one for my mother.
Of course, a trip to Manila’s Chinatown won’t be complete without buying soem tikoy, a glutinous rice food traditionally eaten, even by non-Chinese Filipinos during the Chinese New Year. My mother won’t forgive me for returning home without buying some tikoy, so Mon and I just bought two boxes for both of our moms. We hoped to buy from Eng Bee Tin or Salazar’s but the line on both stores were nauseatingly long that I did not mind buying from another store.
We left Binondo at around 8:00 PM, because we have a 9:00 PM movie to catch in Gateway Mall (the Andres Muschietti-directed horror movie ‘Mama’, starring Jessica Chastain). When we first arrived in LRT2 Recto station, there were long lines stretching out to the street of people waiting to have their things inspected before entering the premises. We thought that it would be better to return back to Cubao, given the number of people taking the train.
When we got home, we immediately gave our loot from our Binondo trip to my mother. She was particularly happy with the red garnet one with a money pot (red garnet for divine energy; money pot for, well, money). On the other hand, Mon and I got identical bracelets of citrine and a gourd ornament (citrine for business and career; gourd for health). To be perfectly honest, I don’t put too much importance to lucky charms or luck in general. I have long since accepted that I will never be a recipient of the luck of a draw, but the beaded bracelets look good so I’m fine with them anyway.
So, the year of the Water Snake offficially starts in a few minutes, huh? I might not particularly love snakes, given my great fear of them, but I hope the year ahead will bring me a good career, a thriving business and an excellent health (pretty much what the bracelet in the middle stands for). LOL
XIN NIAN KUAI LE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!