The universe conspired with me. I was surprised when I woke up a couple of days ago and saw Pangs in Manila unannounced. To think that I was only planning for a Binondo food trip a few days before since the longing for siomai wouldn’t go away. Thank you Lord!
I like going to Binondo, Quiapo or any other notorious places in Manila with my father because I feel safe. Plus he knows almost all jeepney and bus routes so we need not brave the traffic-favorite destination that is Taft Avenue. And of course, it is always his treat. The only downside is the long walking amid black smoke from cars, uneven pavement, and crowded streets that are part of his shortcuts, healthy for the body except the lungs.
Since he was not particularly impressed with Wai Ying, we decided to skip the place and go for other tea houses. I have always wanted to try President but Pangs always discouraged me saying the menu was too expensive and the serving too big for two people since the place catered mostly to family gatherings. Apparently, there are two branches of the establishment and he was referring to the bigger branch. We went to the smaller one along Salazar street.
Given the signage, I expected to be blinded by the color red. Fortunately, the predominant colors were dark brown and white. They had air conditioninh and the place was empty except for three tables (including ours) at 4 PM. I liked the mirrors and comfortable chairs.
I initially ordered Roast Duck Mami but according to the staff, anything with duck was unavailable. I just ordered Plain Mami which was very reasonably priced at 55 pesos! Looks could really be deceiving because the bowl was not appetizing but it tasted great. And I’d rather have non-photogenic delicious food than photogenic awful ones.
Next stop was Wan Chai Teahouse along Benavidez street. Wai Ying is at the mouth of the same street – that’s why it’s popular – but walk straight ahead and half a dozen other tea houses will greet you woth open doors. We chose Wan Chai because they offered free Wi-Fi!
They had some sort of cart where the dim sums are steamed. President also had one. I’m both curious and amazed as to how they keep the consistency of their food from turning icky and watery from too much steaming.
Special Siopao. Pangs had me order this one out of curiosity on their filling. I still think my father makes the best asado siopao in the world but I am biased. The flavor was bola bola and the filling was okay except I was able to taste something weird, labanos according to my father. Nope, not impressed, I still prefer Ma Mon Luk’s and my father’s.
We were amazed with their dough though (haha). It was still fluffy even when the siopao has grown cold. Actually, it could stand on its own. Wan Chai could sell just the dough and we would still buy. The best part? It went back to shape after we pinched it!
I was hoping to visit maybe 5 or 6 establishments but our tummies were reaching their limits. After Wan Chai they could only accommodate one more. Pangs and I chose between Ling Nam and Ongpin Manosa. We chose the latter because my first experience with the place was bad and I wanted to give it another chance, there is no space for hate for Binondo food establishments in my heart, only love.
During our first visit, we were seated on the first floor. It was hot and the tables were dirty thanks to being near the kitchen, plus the staff was very unfriendly. This time, the second floor was empty and the power of the air conditioner could be felt as soon as you open the door. The place was clean and the staff, friendly.
At this point, walking on any environment was very welcome. While on our way to an idle bus in front of FEATI University en route to Pandacan via Otis (really? I had no idea such a route existed), I spotted ice cream and we bought Drumstick. Sweet treat to cap off a nice meal (or meals). Thank you Pangs!