Friday, September 15, 2006


For the very first time in ages, I was able to gallivant on my own in Manila’s Chinatown and felt completely confident. Joining Ivan’s Big Binondo Food Wok tour certainly got me reacquainted with this area’s narrow streets, which I was once very familiar with as a kid.

Some of the things that piqued my interest as I enjoyed my solo flight walk were the foodstuffs being sold out in the streets such as the roasted
chestnuts, which I used to enjoy especially during Christmastime in New York. I even had a friend who showed me how to roast them in a microwave oven.

There was also the tubo or sugar cane which brought back fond memories. As little kids, my friends and I would buy a long cane and have it cut into several pieces for us to share. They were always a sweet and refreshing treat, especially during the hot summer afternoons; however, it was rather challenging for the jaw. Also, you’d better have a good set of teeth to really enjoy them.

The atis was another delight – sweet and delicious, but a lot of work to eat because of its many seeds. This is my brother Taba’s favorite (he was the sixth sibling and aptly nicknamed Taba because he was chubby when young.) I remember him patiently peeling off the skin until there were only those at the bottom left. He would then slowly enjoy eating it, with ecstasy etched on his face. I would get more of a kick by watching him eat one instead of having one for myself.

These red things look fierce. They’re called dragon fruit. Never had one of these intriguing fruits before, but told they’re good. Considering they’re found more in Chinatown than in any other Manila neighborhoods, I’m afraid that if I had one I’d be off hallucinating for days and finding nirvana. However, the vendor assured me this fruit, though red, is not of the Papaver somniferum kind.

In the end, I settled for one of these — tikoy!

I'll be back in Chinatown more often with or without anyone in tow. Now that I know my way around, I will be enjoying this neighborhood as I used to when I was a kid.

* * *

Please note:
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!


Labels: , , ,

posted by Señor Enrique at 8:13 AM


Blogger ipanema said...

Chestnuts mean Christmas to me. If I see those big woks on the sidewalk, I know it's roasting time.

I love eating tubo. My elder sister once told us it's like toothbrush for that fresh after feel. Good jaw exercise too. :)

I have this habit of eating cold atis since young. I would rush to the freezer then claim if after a few It's delicious.

The first time I bought dragon fruit, I have to call my Chinese friend on how to open and eat My children like this.

Oh, the tikoy. I hate slicing this but a family friend taught us how. I enjoy eating this elastic pastry. I'm wondering if this is made of lotus paste or flour?

Thanks for sharing Eric. BTW, I can't view these set of photos and the PPO. Otherwise, I have no problem. Am I the only one who can't view photos from these 2 entries? I use the same browser.

September 15, 2006 9:15 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I don't think you're the only one, Ipanema, having problems viewing my photos.

I constantly reach my limit at Flickr and had to use fotothing and kodakgallery, but they seem to go offline often ... grrr.

I requested for some storage space from Yuga of Pinoytech in exchange for posting entries on his pinoytravelblog, but he never responded to my email.

And my bank told me not to use my credit card online because of the many problems they're experiencing, and this is the reason I cannot go PRO on my flickr account, yet.

I'm sure something good will happen soon :)

September 15, 2006 9:25 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm going to have to try the chilled atis, Ipanema. Now you got me wanting to enjoy this fruit again :)

What does this poppy-like dragon fruit taste like and how is it eaten?

September 15, 2006 9:35 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tikoy is one of the necessary item for prayers during Chinese New Year; here in Malaysia. And it's a tradition to have that at home. Usually the way we eat it here is, we slice it and place it together with a piece of yam and coat it in flour and then proceed to fry it. It really is nice, when cooked like that.

And Ipanema, tikoy is made of glutinous rice and sugar. As for lotus paste, that is for mooncakes (the Mid-Autumn festival is approaching soon!). Just sharing. Hehe.

And I missed sugar cane! It has been such a long time since I last had one! Hehe.

For dragon fruit, you just have to wash it and then cut it open and it's either you slice the fruit out or use a spoon to scoop it out and eat it. It's full of small seeds which can be eaten. The inside part could be red or white, depending on the fruit itself. I personally prefer the white one. It has been said that dragon fruits are good for health.


September 15, 2006 10:27 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I will definitely buy a dragon fruit next time I go to Chinatown, Kyels. It has always intrigued me.

Tikoy I've always enjoyed since I was a kid, but simply aamazed at the many flavors they come in now, including ube.

September 15, 2006 10:39 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's cool, Eric.

Ah, I've never tried the other flavors and we'd usually stick to the original ones; especially those wrapped with banana leaves.


September 15, 2006 10:44 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

When in Manila this December, Kyels, you might want to try the other flavors :)

September 15, 2006 10:46 AM  

Blogger TOW Blog said...

hi, eric. check it out:

thanks for the freakonomics kind acknowledgement. maybe another book next time.

September 15, 2006 11:11 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That was really sweet of you to have suggested to get me that book, Minotte. Okay, I will take you up in the future. Many thanks again!

I just checked out the URL of your other site. Wow! Barnes & Noble! I got two books from the fair that you had mentioned in your entry.

September 15, 2006 11:47 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't view the pictures either. :(

I miss atis and tubo. Atis is definitely on my list to eat when I go back home. What month is it in season? Tubo might be too hard on my teeth now.

Never heard of dragon fruit before.

September 15, 2006 11:56 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Okay, let me see if I can upload the pics on another online server, Niceheart.

September 15, 2006 12:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't found atis in the US... and I want that tikoy.

September 15, 2006 1:20 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My brother Taba's favorite fruit and there was none to be had in NYC. They ripen too fast I guess and not suitable for transport on oceangoing vessels.

September 15, 2006 1:34 PM  

Blogger ladybug said...

Those pics certainly brought back memories of Chinatown. Haven't gone there in a while. While tikoy is available any time of the year, I just eat them during Chinese New Year. Nakasanayan lang talaga. :-) I sure miss eating atis though.

September 15, 2006 1:53 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...


Abe from Pinoytravelblog just emailed me and will give me space on his server to store my pics to enable everyone to view them regularly and consistently!

Thanks much to my friend SIDNEY for the recommendation :)

I told you, Ipanema, something good is bound to happen! hehehe! Now, let me go and get some atis to chill and enjoy later as I watch some TV.

September 15, 2006 2:00 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Thanks Eric. I can view it now. Wow! lovely photos to go with the article. Iba talaga pag may photo kasama when you're talking about food.

That's what I suspect. Open a new flickr account then. :)

Don't use that credit card online. I'm very cautious as well.

There, Kyle answered the dragon fruit. I also prefer the white. We usually peel it off. Looks like white kiwi fruit with all those black seeds. :)

Thanks again.

September 15, 2006 2:03 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Ah that's good news Eric...hehehe, good I raise my hand up. lol.

September 15, 2006 2:05 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You and me both, Ladybug, but my mom loves them kaya kung minsan naguuwi ako sa bahay :)

The atis is in season now and, in fact, excited to try Ipanema's chilled version!

September 15, 2006 2:07 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Okay, Ipanema, since I love kiwi, I will definitely get some of these red fierce fruits :)

Abe or Yuga will give me some room in his server for storing my pics so maybe I will not have to go pro at flickr :)

September 15, 2006 2:09 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes, I love the white one. Heehee. And peeling it off is just so; uhm, nice. Haha. Okay, I'm a little out of mind.


And Eric, yep, I'll definitely check out the different flavors when I'm there in December. Heehee. Good to hear that good news! Yay!

September 15, 2006 2:09 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh yes, Ipanema ... THANK YOU!

Okay Ipanema and Kyels, enough! Wait til I get a chance to go back to Chinatown and get some of these dragon fruits! Hahahaha!

You guys are now making me salivate :)

See what I get for making fun of these poppy-like fruits earlier? The joke's on me.

September 15, 2006 2:17 PM  

Blogger Gayzha said...

Hi Eric,

You've made me crave for these food. And they are so beautifully photographed.

I bet your blog will really be a good resource for Philippine food and culture and tourism!

September 15, 2006 3:00 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you Jase. Just got a kilo of atis and put them right away in the fridge as per Ipanema's style.

But in all honesty Jase, when it comes to food, besides Sassy's Pinoyfoodblog, we have our very own Christine ( ) and Ladybug's home-cooked meals ( ).

As for culture we have Carlos Celdran and Stepping on Poop. Ika nga eh, nakiki-epal lang ako ... hahahaha!

September 15, 2006 8:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naglalaway ako sa atis. I haven't had it in the longest time. Mabuti naman at balat na pala yung tubo. Then maybe I can it eat too.

September 15, 2006 8:31 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Irene, may nagsabi sa akin huwag na daw ako sa Chinatown mamili ng mga frutas at mahal daw doon. Sa Divisoria daw.

Hayaan mo, pagbalikbayan ninyo, padalhan kita agad ng isang tiklis!

September 15, 2006 9:19 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Abe is a very nice guy. I think he is VERY busy with a lot of projects. This is probably the reason of his late mail. I am ashamed I didn't used his free space yet...

September 15, 2006 10:22 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I am happy you enjoy Chinatown. I go there for the food too.
Too bad it is far away from where I live.

September 15, 2006 10:26 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are certainly making me hungry Eric! I love tubo and tikoy! Yum! Oh, when you drop by Chinatown again, do visit Eng Bee Tin. They have a lot of amazing delicacies, sweets and chinese foods there. There products are delectable! You should try it!

September 15, 2006 11:18 PM  

Blogger TOW Blog said...

wonderful pics! wonderful post!

sugar cane juice is good for the kidneys, i heard. what a nice angle on chinatown--so rich in texture, color, and flavor! my earliest memories of chinatown was eating in a resto called SEE KEE--favorite of my parents. i don't think it's there anymore :<

September 15, 2006 11:32 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Sidney, Abe is both a very nice and busy young man :)

I had just registered and will be posting soon. Again Sidney, many thanks for the recommendation :)

Went back to that volunteer fireman's cafe yesterday in Chinatown and had their fried rice. Estero food I will try next. I'm really getting to know this area well :)

September 16, 2006 6:54 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh, I love Eng Bee Tin's hopia, JV! Very different from the original hopia when I was a kid, but tasty nevertheless. Their hopia is similar to Polland's.

BTW, I can't leave any comment on your site ... wordpress problem, I guess :(

September 16, 2006 6:57 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The restaurants that my father and I went to aren't there anymore, Minotte. So much has changed in this neighborhood; not to mention that there were many fires that razed down many establishments in Binondo.

Ivan's walking tour is another I'd like to recommend when you come back to visit :)

September 16, 2006 7:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.