Food discoveries in the Banawe area, Quezon City's Chinatown
MANILA, Philippines- If you think Binondo’s crowded streets are too much of a sensory overload, Banawe, Quezon City offers a more accessible and low-key alternative to the hustle and bustle of Manila’s centuries-old Chinatown.
Recently inaugurated as the Chinatown of Quezon City, Banawe, which is also known for the numerous car shops lining its streets, has slowly evolved into a haven for foodies looking for a taste of authentic Chinese cooking.
But eating in famed restaurants like King Chef would only be the start of the journey. Take a walk around the area and its neighboring streets and you’ll find that Banawe is a melting pot of different Asian cuisines as well as a center of many Buddhist temples.
Price range: P100-P350
Address: 168 D.Tuazon Street, Corner N.S. Amoranto Avenue, La Loma, Quezon City
Tien Ma boasts of its affordable Xiao Long Baos— steamed pork dumplings with soup which are made by Filipinos who were trained by a Taiwanese chef.
According to the manager, they ensure consistency by secrecy; no one knows how to make the dough except for their Taiwanese chef and Tien Ma’s owner.
Unlike Michelin star restaurant Din Tai Fung’s Xiao Long Baos, Tien Ma’s wraps are thinner, and the price range is more affordable.
Other specialties include their sticky tofu, pan-fried pork and shrimp dumplings, and their hand-made noodle soups.
Hong Kong Eat Fresh
Price range: P28-200
Address: 100-A Maria Clara St, Santa Mesa Heights, Quezon City, Metro Manila
If you’re on a budget but find yourself craving for Chinese food, Hong Kong Eat Fresh offers affordable meals.
They have a wide range of skewered street food, but customers come back for their breaded scallops and bacon stuffed with crabstick, asparagus, and mushroom, which are best drizzled with their tangy and sweet special sauce.
If you’re not up for street food, they also serve traditional Chinese dishes like sweet and sour pork, special soup with abalone and mushroom, and rice toppings in clay pots, which are their best-sellers.
Price range: P90-P2500
Address: 105 Santo Domingo Corner Sgt. Alcaraz Avenue, Santo Domingo, Banawe, Quezon City
Banawe and its surrounding streets are filled not only with Chinese restaurants, but also with establishments serving other popular cuisines.
If you’re ever been to Little Tokyo in Makati, you’ll notice that Oedo has a similar vibe on the outside. The interior, however, is more upscale and homey. During lunch time, the place is more laid-back but once the sun sets and the Japanese lanterns are lit, the place comes alive.
Oedo seems to have everything on the spectrum of Japanese food, from chirashi, onigiri, and makis to ramen and hot pots, udon and soba, curry rice, donburi, and omu rice, and a variety of both fried and grilled food.
Price range: P35-P230
Address: 78 Nicanor Roxas, Quezon City, Metro Manila
Bugis, named after the street in Singapore that sells cheap hawker food, lives up to its namesake not only because of its affordable dishes but also because of its authentic Singaporean cuisine.
Their most popular dishes are the Hainanese chicken rice and the laksa, a slightly spicy noodle soup made of coconut milk, egg, shrimp, fishballs, and bean sprouts.
Their meals are made from fresh and healthy ingredients, some of which are imported from Singapore.
“Our tagline is ‘freshly made’,” said their manager Anna Tan. MSG is substituted with all-natural spices to make even cheat days healthy.
Address: 440 NS. Amoranto Sr, St Peter, Quezon City, 1114 Metro Manila
Remember the red, circular, haw flakes you used to eat as a child? Kangsheng Trading sells boxes of it along with other Chinese products like dried plums, Ginseng coffee, grass jelly drinks, noodles, Chinese condiments, dried shiitake mushrooms, and chill bean paste. If you’d rather cook Chinese food at home than eat out, this is where you can buy your ingredients.
The small family-owned grocery that has been operating for more than 10 years is inconspicuously tucked behind an old tree. It is reminiscent of dilapidated shops in Hong Kong’s many alleys.
The restaurants are only half of what makes Banawe Quezon City’s Chinatown. The other half is hidden behind red gates.
If you find yourself full after a food trip, why not explore temples in the area?
Thousand Buddha Temple, located at 15 Don Pepe Street corner Maria Clara Street, Barangay Santo Domingo, Santa Mesa Heights is one of the biggest and most popular. Many statues of Buddha are displayed on the interiors of its walls.
Tai Shong Temple along Linaw Street is its contrast, a small prayer area which was built inside a house’s garage.
Other temples include Kong Tiak Temple in 27 Macopa Corner Banawe, Sto Domingo, and Guatama Temple located along Ubay Street, which is adjacent to Banawe Ave.
Most of them welcome non-practicing visitors and would even be happy to answer questions about their religion and culture. Light an incense stick, say a prayer, or just soak in the quiet atmosphere.
With its restaurants that serve a myriad of cuisines and several Buddhist temples hidden behind red gates, Quezon City’s Chinatown offers a taste of different cultures which are worth exploring – either through the temples or through one’s tastebuds. – Rappler.com
Planning to head out to Banawe for dinner? Book an Uber!