If you’ve got balikbayans to entertain and you’re stumped about where to take them, I’d highly recommend Ivan Man Dy’s Big Binondo Food Wok. It’s a walking tour that passes through street stalls, food alleys, small wet markets, and traditional shops. Ivan is a cultural activist born and raised in Binondo, and entertains the group with historical information and cultural trivia, peppered with a little bit of current news.
Here are some of the vegan dishes we enjoyed on the food tour:
- Fresh lumpia from New Po Heng Lumpia House. This is really good fresh lumpia! Ivan said that we could asked for second or even third servings, and I was more than happy to do so. The restaurant usually serves their lumpia with a bits of pork and shrimp, but just let Ivan know in advance if you’re vegan/vegetarian, and he’ll make arrangements for you.
- Spicy tofu with cilantro from Quick Snack. This dish combines three things I love: tofu, cilantro, and spice!
- Vegetable dumplings from Dong Bei. You see the restaurant staff hand-rolling the dumplings as soon as you enter the door. They use some ground pork in the dumplings, but made me a platter of all vegetable ones.
- Mango sago from President’s. The tour usually ends with dessert, and mango sago is a Filipino-Chinese classic. After President’s, Ivan took the group to Polland to nibble on various hopia flavors and do some pasalubong shopping.
- You can ask for seconds!
It’s a messy, fun, and authentic experience that you certainly won’t find in a mall. Rates are at P1,200 per head, inclusive of food. Check out the tour schedule here, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your slot.