I have always relied on Maps when I travel. Whenever I visit a place for the first time, I always try to get a map first. If I have a reliable map on hand and a compass, I’m not afraid to get lost as I’m confident I’ll find my way back. When I heard famed Binondo Food-walker Ivan Man Dy released the Big Binondo Food Wok Map, I got really excited because Manila really have a shortage of good Art Maps like this. So last weekend, a couple of my friends trouped to Chinatown to taste-drive this map.
The Author at Salazar St. Photo by Lagalog
I remember taking a few foreigner friends and first timers in Binondo before for a food trip here. They told me they wouldn’t remember all the places I took them to eat if they go there by themselves. I guess this would be the same case with first timers who would want to try out food tripping in Binondo.
Our lunch at Zhen Hu. Watch out for the Happyfoodies post
Here comes The Big Binondo Food Wok Map. The 10.5″ x 4″ folded and 10.5″ x 24″ spread map contains beautiful illustrations, heritage trails, a bit of history, Traveler Tips and especially restaurant listings in Binondo. The restaurant list also includes snippets of information about the restaurant’s specialties and offerings. I’m sure adventure foodies would love this.
We started our trail at Sta Cruz Plaza. We headed to Benavidez for lunch. I wanted to try something different from the places we have eaten before in Binondo, and decided on Wai Ying for the roasted duck Congee but unfortunately, the place was packed. So we checked on the map what else is there and found Zhen Hu just further up ahead for some traditional Hokkien style food.
Sated, we decided to check out some of the heritage trails we haven’t been to like the Seng Guan Si Temple. Now this is where it gets a little confusing. Seng Guan is farther off the map but I was confused at first on it’s placement along Alvarado and assuming Narra st is the small street beside it. So going by Yuchengo past Dong Bei Dumplings, we crossed this little Hong Bon bridge (dating back to 1969) which is not on the map heading to Alvarado Street only to find them not there. I had to check google maps a couple of times on my phone to check where we were.
We did find Seng Guan but it’s on the side opposite Reina Regente and past Soler and Recto streets. The same goes for the San Nicolas District Stonehouses which have several streets. But these places are further out of the field but if you try finding them it can be confusing.
Preparing Dong Bei’s famous dumplings
Other than that, since this is firstly a Food Wok Map, the central area where the main restaurants and heritage trails on the map are fairly easy to find. If you are wondering why there are some Stars on the numbered listings of the restos, our art-director friend, Jocas noticed that they are the ones who have ad spaces on the map. The Budget Guide there is also handy.
Kudos to Ivan Man Dy for creating such a handy and good looking map of Binondo. It’s about time someone does something like this and I hope there would be more projects like this. If one wants to explore Binondo on their own this would be a nice guide. Of course it doesn’t replace being part of Ivan Man Dy’s Binondo Food Wok tour but it’s a start. The Chinese New year is just ahead. Make sure to bring this map along. It’s only Php 100 and can be bought at Bahay Tsinoy, Libros Filipinos Bookshop at the Filipinas Heritage Library, and La Monja Store in Intramuros. You can also order from Ivan Man Dy himself at [email protected] or call 0917-329-1622.
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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.