Last Saturday, I joined a group of bloggers and journalists for the Social Media Launch of the Awesome Food and Culture Tour: Secrets of Lucky Chinatown. It was held at the Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo, Manila. Mr. RJ Ledesma, along with some of the representatives from the Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, hosted the tour.
image above courtesy of the event organizers and hosts
We received an itinerary via email prior to the event to help us get ready for the activities. It was a fun event which was held from 11 A.M. until around 3 P.M. The tour will be open for the public starting this coming Saturday, May 10, for Php888 per head. Tickets are available at the Lucky Chinatown Mall’s concierge or the Eastwood Mall concierge. If you’re interested to join, let me give you a sneak peek of the things you might be able to experience. 🙂
First stop was the Botanical Herbal Hall, located at the ground floor of Lucky Chinatown Mall’s Annex A. They serve unsweetened tea which is said to help our bodies in different ways. This concept isn’t entirely new to me as I’ve grown up drinking herbal teas at home and during our family trips to Hong Kong. It was fun watching the other bloggers try the teas and see their reactions, though. 🙂 Botanical Herbal Hall’s teas may take a bit of getting used to, but I recommend trying them out as I’m a big believer of the benefits of tea.
The owner, Dhong, was nice enough to introduce us to the different teas they have available at the store. He also explained the medicinal properties of each one.
(Left) The Lo’ 5 Tea is said to mildly relieve cough and reduce phlegm. Its main ingredient is the momordica grosvenori (shown beside the Lo’ 5 bottle), which are said to be found in China. I believe this is the type of tea which I’ve been most exposed to in the family. It’s the same dried fruit my family has been putting into some of our soups, especially when my grandparents were still around.
(Right) The May Bloom Tea is said to mildly strengthen the stomach and lower bad cholesterol.
(Left) If you’ve been eating a lot of fried food lately, you might want to try their Snow Pear Chrysanthemum Tea (or Pear’C Tea). This is said to mildly clear heat from the body and improve eyesight.
(Right) Another tea which helps remove heat would be their Plum Tea. This is also said to help quench your thirst and aid your digestion. This tea is more on the sour side and is something that we drink often in our family.
Apart from the taste of their teas, I also liked the packaging of their items. They’re very simple, but eye-catching. They also remind me of the gourd the Monkey King (Sun WuKong) carried with him in the series. 🙂
After the tea drinking, we were led to the Miao De Temple where Ms. Sweet Go gave us a brief history on Buddhism.
She also taught us the proper way to handle incense when you’re wishing for something. Participants who were interested were allowed to light their own incense sticks and make a wish/prayer.
The Chinatown Walk is an open area where food entrepreneurs sell their goods to the hungry shoppers. This is the area where the weekend vendors (including the soon-to-open Mei Wei Lu from Mercato Centrale) are also located.
There were numerous stalls, but the first one in our tour was Mr. Fast Foo. They pride themselves in being able to serve their items in just 4 to 5 minutes.
One of the items we were able to try was their Formosa Lumpia (Php80.00). You won’t see your traditional vegetables and tofu inside this one! It has pork floss, bits of Chinese sausage, cucumber and eggs with scallions inside. The hoisin sauce adds a nice touch to this lumpia. It felt a bit similar to eating peking duck wraps (just without the duck).
If you’re looking for the more traditional one, just order their Signature Lumpia (Php70.00).
They also let us try their pulled pork cuapao (Php70.00). Stuffed inside the mantao buns are the shredded pork, sugared peanuts, shallots, a piece of leafy vegetable and some pickled vegetables.
Last from Mr. Fast Foo was their bowls of Maki-Mi (Php80 for light, Php140 for regular). Their version is a little sweeter compared to the other maki-mi places I’ve been to, but a lot of the people in our group enjoyed this a lot.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this dish, this is not the same as the Japanese maki or sushi rolls. Chinese maki consists of chunks of pork swimming in a thick, sticky brown soup, topped with spring onions. So when does it become maki-mi? Just check if it’s served with noodles (mi in Fookien means noodles).
Next stop was the Fu Dao Shui Jiao, which I was already eyeing when we were still at the Miao De Temple (it’s right across!).
Look at those dumplings! These reminded me of my stay in Xiamen, where a wide array of dumplings is available to satisfy anyone’s craving.
Here’s the owner, showing us their huge pot of soup base. He mentioned that apart from some special herbs and spices, this soup base also includes crushed peanuts. This smelled really good!
I had to squeeze my way through the crowd to take a photo of their food selection.
They allowed us to sample their Sate Seafood Dumpling Soup. Inside were pieces of clams and shrimp, along with a few dumplings, vegetables and noodles. I have a penchant for anything spicy, but since we were eating this outside and this year’s summer isn’t exactly forgiving, I had to stop after a few mouthfuls. If you can eat this in an air conditioned area, that would be best.
Here’s their standard wanton noodle soup, which we were given to try. I love the wantons! One of the better ones I’ve tried in a long, long time.
Our last food stop at the Chinatown Walk was Cha Cha Food House. The Chinese couple who owns this stall specializes in pumpkin cakes (shown being cooked in the photo above). When we were there, I saw a number of customers come up to their store and purchase their goods.
Another one of their items is this really aromatic Texas Chicken. The smell emanating from these are guaranteed to catch your attention. We were told that these are marinated for 8 hours in various herbs and spices before they’re cooked and served. We were able to sample some of it too and it garnered a lot of positive reviews from the bloggers. I got a chunk of the breast part so it was a tad dry, but it wasn’t something their sauce couldn’t remedy. I think if you can always get a part of the skin with each mouthful of chicken meat then you’re good to go.
Of course, we couldn’t forget to try their pumpkin cakes (Php10 per piece). These are sticky sweet things which, in my opinion, are best eaten with some hot tea. It has nothing inside it, but it managed to fill me up really quick. They also remind me of jin dui (or buchi as it’s more commonly called here in Manila).
We enjoyed the food which were served to us, especially since we were also able to interact with the other bloggers and journalists while dining. Several group photos taken by the photographers of Reflexion’s Studio signaled the end our feast.
The event organizers still had several activities lined up for us after the meal; I’ll walk you through them in my next post! 🙂
**Lucky Chinatown Mall is located at Reina Regente St. corner Dela Reina Street, Binondo, Manila. Mall hours are from 10 A.M. until 10 P.M.