Craving for Chinese Food

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.

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Preparing for the rainy days’ power outages

Last month, I have promised Mama that I will buy a generator for our house before the end of June as a preparation for the inevitable long power outages of the rainy days. So when I finally got my first ever pay from my new work, I have informed her that our most awaited trip to Raon would be finally happening. LOL I had been anticipating this moment, and I even shared this silly story to my nephew that I grew up envious of his godfather (and my brother’s friend) having a generator during the frequent blackouts of the early 90s (which prevented me from watching The Uncanny X-Men on Friday nights).

Inside Quiapo Church

Curry beef brisket and fish fillet from Wai Ying

I had considered getting one last December and I already canvassed for the home-use ones in malls. But my Kuya advised me to try buying from Raon instead from malls because the prices on the former were almost half from the latter. So after lunch, we travelled all the way to Manila to find the best deal around. We first dropped by Quiapo Church, then to Binondo to introduce Mama to my most favorite place in the area: Wai Ying!

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Xin Nian Kuai Le! New Year’s Eve in Binondo!

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.

Lion dance in the streets of Binondo - Chinese New Year 2013
Enjoying the dragon dance in the streets of Binondo - Chinese New Year 2013

We were shocked of the unannounced firecrackers - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Dragon dance in the streets of Binondo - Chinese New Year 2013

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.

Mon in front of the Ongpin North Bridge - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013
And I was wearing my red shorts - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

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.

Bustling street  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Red Chinese lantern  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

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

Waiying Fastfood  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Jampacked Waiying  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

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.

Roasted duck  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013Lemon chicken  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Steamed tofu  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Chicken noodles  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Vegetable dumpling  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Two glasses of yummy milk tea  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

A bunch of buchi  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

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:

Waiying's complete menu and price list -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Waiying's complete menu and price list 2 -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

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.

Night fell and the number of people just increased -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Leaving the Ongpin North Gate at night - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

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.

Lots of golden snake figurines -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

This is an adorable maneki neko  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Lucky charm bracelets' meanings  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Another Chinese lantern  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Solar-powered maneki neko  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Lucky coins decoration  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

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.

Tikoy prices at Baker's Fair  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Baker's Fair in Binondo  -  Chinese New Year 2013

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.

Mon and the crowded street of Binondo at night  -  Chinese New Year 2013

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.

And we got the citrine, red garnet, gourd and money pot  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013 A bunch of beaded bracelets - Chinese New Year 2013

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