Discover #LuckyChinatownSecrets - Binondo Food Trip

Discover Chinese Culture at the Awesome Food and Culture Secrets at Lucky Chinatown Tour

#LuckyChinatownSecrets * #MegaWorldLifestyleMalls * Chinatown Walk * Foodspotting * Mercato Centrale * Weekend Food Market * Filipino-Chinese Cuisine * Chinese Food * Binondo Food Trip

via Foodamn Philippines

May 3, 2014 BINONDO, MANILA, Philippines – Foodamn Philippines gets thrilled when itinerary includes "Chinatown" being closely associated with food trips! Capture the exotic dishes, fascinating Chinese traditions and unique food finds. Becomes twofold excitement when we're all set to unveil #LuckyChinatownSecrets through “Awesome Food and Culture Secrets of Lucky Chinatown Tour."

Chinatown with its deeply-rooted religious practices, well-preserved traditions and delectable cuisine remains the same amidst modernization. Binondo is said to be one of the world's oldest Chinatown, thus Lucky Chinatown -  a heritage project of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls is an exact ideal place to discover unfamiliar Chinese ways.
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Mercato Group's RJ Ledesma host and served as our bubbly tour guide of the day of this Binondo culture and food hopping insights. The tour falls every Saturday (scheduled on Saturdays of May 2014), when the weekend food market appears on the Lucky Chinatown Walk strip outside the mall.

Our group embark on Chinese tea appreciation, herbal tea variants were served courtesy of Botanical Herbal Hall at Annex A. Tea is well-known for its medicinal benefits and is believed to have been enjoyed by the Chinese for more than 4,000 years now.  It has proven that continuous drinking of herbal tea can prevent disease and make you healthier.
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Our curator shared tea trivia, that tea was first discovered by the Chinese emperor and herbalist, since the emperor liked his drinking water boiled before drinking it, a routine for the servant to boil his drinking water. One day, the servant began boiling water and a dead leaf from the wild tea bush fell into the water. It changes into brownish color, but it was unnoticed and presented to the emperor anyway. The emperor drank it and found it very refreshing, and cha (tea) came into being.

At the Botanical Herball Hall, we sampled 4 different teas:
Lo’5 or Momordica Grosvenor Five Flowers Tea - made of 5 kinds of flowers: oriental wormwood, chrysanthemu, honeysuckle, selfheal and kapok. Medicinal properties: Help reduce phlegm and relieve cough.

Pear’C Tea or Snow Pear Chrysanthemum Tea - made of snow pear and chrysanthemum. Medicinal properties: Cools the body and help improve eyesight.

Maybloom Tea - made of May bloom and chrysanthemum Medicinal properties: Good for strengthening the stomach and lowering lipids

Plum Tea -  Medicinal properties: promote better digestion because of its dark plum, maybloom, dried tangerine and liquorice ingredients.

The way of the Buddha - we were taught how to properly offer incense and learn more about the beginnings of Buddha, his teachings and other Buddhism practices and traditions. The small space along the Chinatown Walk is a public worship area. On May 13-14, 2014 is the celebration of VESAK DAY from 10am - 8pm at the Lucky Chinatown Mall. Vesak Day commemorates the birth, Enlightenment and final Nirvana of the Buddha on the full moon day of the 4th lunar month. Activities include ceremonial bathing of an image of baby Siddharta, Buddhist songs, dances and martial arts.

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Sweet Go, the temple's OIC stated that Buddhism originated in Northern India (present day Nepal) more than 2,600 years ago, is said to be the third largest religion in the world; China having 102,000,000 Buddhist population next to Thailand with 55,480,000, Vietnam with 49,690,000, Myanmar 41,610,000 and the rest of Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia and India (Source: adherents)

Buddhism is founded by Sakyamuni Buddha (a Shakyan Prince named Siddharta Guatama). He relinquish his inheritance at the age of 29 in search for the Enlightenment. Buddha, which means “The Awakened One or Enlightened One,” was known for his deep teachings and is credited for realization of the truth of all things  and true happiness. At age 35, he attained Enlightenment and has shared the inspiring truth tirelessly for 45 years and passed away at 80 into deep Parinirvana.

We get to know different kinds of Buddhas and their representations as extensively explained by the curator:
Adharma Buddha, the primordial Buddha
Buddha Vajradhara - Dorje Chang
the five transcendent Buddhas who represent the various aspects of enlightened consciousness or wisdom:
     - Akshobhya Buddha (Great Reflecting or Mirror-like Wisdom)
     - Ratnasambhava Buddha (Equality in Nature or Wisdom of Equanimity)
     - Amitabha Buddha (Subtle Observing or Discriminating Wisdom
     - Amoghasiddhi Buddha (Fulfillment of Deeds or All-accomplishing Wisdom
     - Mahavairocana Buddha (All-encompassing or Universal Wisdom of the Dharmadhatu)

Medicine Buddha - Bhaisajya-guru
Amitayus Buddha - the Longlife Buddha and an emanation of Amitabha Buddha
various emanations of Tara -  a female Buddha
Maitreya Bodhisattva, more commonly known as the Laughing Buddha, will be the next Buddha to come to this world. He will bring only happiness and peace to the Earth.

The essence of lighting an incense stick
Lighting incense is a sign of homage and respect being offered in veneration of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The incense sticks embodies self-discipline and deep concentration. The offering of burning incense, which fills the air with fragrance, symbolizes the virtue and purifying effect of wholesome conduct. This urges us to cease all evil and to cultivate all of the good.

The essence of  bowing
Prostration before an image of the Buddha is not idol-worshipping, in fact it's an expression of deep veneration. Such act helps to overcome egoistic feelings, to become more ready to learn from the Buddha.

Placing of palms together
Placing one's palms together at the chest level is a traditional gestures to express deep reverence  to the Triple Gem. When Buddhist greet one another, they hold their palms together like a budding lotus flower (the Buddhist Symbol of Purity) and say "AMITUOFO" - this greeting acknowledges the seeds of awakening or Buddhahood in the other person, as we wish one another well-being and happiness. Placing the palms together also has a focusing and calming effect in the mind.

Different kinds of offerings
Light - like lamps or candles, which remind us of the illuminating brightness of wisdom, dispels the darkness of ignorance on the path of Enlightenment.
Water - symbolizes the Dharma or Buddha's teachings, water symbolizes purity, clarity and calmness of the mind.
Flowers- offering of fresh and beautiful flowers, which soon become withered, serves as a reminder of  the impermanence of all things, including our very lives.
Fruits - reminds us that if we want the sweet fruit (good result), we must cultivate and accumulate good deeds, it symbolizes the truth of Karmic cause and effect.
Chants - like meditation, chanting helps  to develop a focused and peaceful state of mind.

WEEKEND FOOD MARKET One of the main event for  #LuckyChinatownSecrets, a feast of delicious dishes
Third stop is the much awaited true blue Binondo Food Trip as far as Foodamn Philippines is concerned. :)  The group were treated with authentic Chinese food tasting from three of preselected food concessionaires who delightedly shared some of its secret ingredients and cooking methods; and dine in al fresco along the Lucky Chinatown Walk strip, an alley of weekend food vendors strategically located between the two annexes of the mall.  To give you insightful ideas, below are the #LuckyChinatownSecrets gastronomic food treats we have tried.

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Cua Pao - made of braised pork belly, kiam chay, sugared peanuts and cilantro (wansoy).

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Maki Mi - pork tenderloin with noodles and sticky sauce

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Fresh Lumpia - all veggie and tofu lumpia topped with crispy seaweed, sugared peanuts, cilantro (wansoy) and garlic.  A serving cost Php70 which can be shared by two persons.

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Sate seafood noodles - with shrimp, noodles, dumpling, Taiwan pechay in a sate soup base.

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Pumpkin cake - a fried mashed squash, some says it taste like Tikoy with a twist. But I find it like Tagalog's okoy without the crunchy little shrimps in between. Pumpkin cake is said to be good for the skin, I believed it's also good for the eyesight.

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Texas chicken - marinated with Chinese herbs for eight hours and fried in a pressure cooker.

The sumptuous food were all dynamically presented on hot plates and  served with gusto! We can smell the savory Chinese style food preparation and arrays of Chinese herbs and ingredients. One can utter "lasang Intsik talaga" :)  I specially swooned over at the Sate seafood noodle because of its spices and extremely hot flavor. The veggie fresh lumpia earns my ticket as well, although one food blogger note that the cilantro overpowers the lumpia taste. While pumpkin cake nailed my Chinese food trip, my first time to try them out, we even bought those orange thingy ahead before the actual food taste. Why not? It cost a favorable Php10 per piece - freshly kneaded, fried and served hot!

The curator described the traditional Chinese wedding set-up and engagement practices from tea ceremony, "teng hun" the act of wedding etiquette (Filipino versions of "pamanhikan") performed by the soon-to-be-wed couple before their wedding. Tour participant will take home a commemorative group photo.

After the street food chopstick feast, we headed to Phoenix Dragon, a retail store of Chinese ornaments, feng shui novelties and charms to attract good vibes, wealth and personal wishes.

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Samson Chua demonstrates how to cleanse feng shui infused objects using the traditional singing bowl. He explains the most common Chinese ornaments used by businesses and forecast on health, business, career and love for the year of the Wood Horse.  Chua divulge that the Horse is hardworking, autonomous, carefree, energetic, friendly but emotional. Animal signs that are compatible with the Horse is the Dog, both being regarded as farm animals and best friends to humans.

The feng shui expert clarify that feng shui is not a religion but a practice of balance and the way I believed it's a practice of applying logic. Chua also shared those who would have luck based on animal signs, born with animal signs Horse, Rat, Rabbit and Rooster are considered lucky this year of the Wood Horse, however since these four signs have the same luck they will have to compete with one another for that opportunity. The same thing happens for the rest of the animal signs, every year there are three other animals competing for that "luck." Here goes the use of Chinese amulets and charms to counter and ward off the negative energies.

Some of his feng shui tips I've already applied in our home although since I can't afford crystal boulders :) I buy books and learned alternative ways like the practice of placing a waterfall or any water element at the left side of the house (symbolizes the continuous flow of energy) instead I put an image of a swimming pool with flowing water fountains and outside the main door I placed my dogs' water bowl (to ward off noisy/irritating neighbors) :) Believed me it works!

Bagua mirror should be hanged in front of the main door or outside corners to divert negative energy. The horror film Feng Shui with Kris Aquino depicts bagua as an item that absorbs or sucks the subject is not true at all, in fact it draws away bad elements.  Chua noted if bagua absorbs then Kris Aquino should have been gone by now. :)

For other animal figures, he has suggested its placing position such as the tiger - right, lion - left, phoenix - front and turtle/tortoise at the back. Laughing Buddha should be displayed visible to the eye to attract happiness. We used to have an aquarium with arowana fish, she died when we transferred house (lipat-bahay must have shaken her or it has to do with the water she was transferred at), it is said fish image represents long life and prosperity. Back home we have a painting of school of fish displayed on the dining area.

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After educating the mind and attracting positivity, the group took off at the Food Junction 4th Floor of Lucky Chinatown to have a refreshing Taiwanese-inspired dessert from Rainbow Snow, Ricson Ngo the owner of the dessert place allowed everyone to take a peek of how snow ice dessert is processed. We had a sample of Mixed Berry Snow and Chocolate Snow.  Snow ice is a shaved ice treats with a texture common to ice cream and sorbet in between. Being a Filipino-Taiwanese, he brought the business concept here in the Philippines since Filipinos are familiar with snow ice from popular Korean  cultures.

Chinese is known for historical medicine practices, Dra. Milarosa further explains the benefits of acupuncture being the system of healing that involves pricking of the skin tissues with needles to alleviate pain and treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions. The clinic also offers a foot fish spa therapy or the Doctor Fish - a tiny fish that sucks deads skin leaving it clean and well scrub. The fish spa is a natural massage to exfoliate dead skin, improves blood circulation and stress reliever because of the laughing sensation we make every time the little masseurs feeds on your sensitive dead skin.
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We were given 15-minutes to try one from the three services they offer tui na (Chinese herbal oil massage), acupuncture or fish spa.

TAO YUAN, another #LuckyChinatownSecrets Binondo food trip
The tour's final stop, the sampling of another traditional Chinese food recipe and practice popularly known as "lauriat" a Fookien dialect which means special occasion. The usual lauriat is compose of at least ten special dishes and dining last for hours.

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Tao Yuan specializes in Singaporean and Hong Kong style dishes. A welcome drink - Melon shake was served. Among the restaurant's best-sellers such as:
Hainan Chicken with Chicken Rice - white chickem with ginger sauce
Mango Lapu-lapu - fried Lapu-lapu with ripe mango and green mango sauce
Pancit Canton - birthday noodles
Mango Sago dessert
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To summed up the gastro filling adventure, Foodamn Philippines enjoyed the sweet and tangy taste Mango Lapu-lapu, goes well with the Chicken rice. We are noodle addicts, that saucy pancit canton was short served! LOL Yes it quiet "bitin" a reason enough for us to visit the place again and have that birthday noodles served exclusively for me.

For those who would like to experience the unconventional facets of Chinese culture and the variety of Chinese cuisine, all in one place then don't miss Awesome Food and Culture Secrets of Lucky Chinatown Tour.  Hosted by Our Awesome Planet's Anton Diaz and Mercato Group's RJ Ledesma. The tour costs only Php888 and will run for 4 hours and more from 11am-3pm on a limited run on the following scheduled dates: May 10, 24 and 31, 2014. 

Where to book your tickets?
Awesome Food and Culture Secrets of Lucky Chinatown Tour
Lucky Chinatown Concierge - tel. 576-8139
Eastwood Mall Concierge

View more photos from Awesome Food and Culture Secrets of Lucky Chinatown Tour here

P.S. With a hint of Filipino exotic food and truly Filipino foods made for your visual appetites. Originally created by Green Dei of Foodamn Philippines and Green Dei Media PH.

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and Foodamn Philippines' blog received a non-monetary compensation for review and sharing this post. Regardless, all opinions are my own and sourced from #MegaWorldLifestyleMalls and #LuckyChinatownSecrets (Awesome Food and Culture Secrets of Lucky Chinatown Tour); may or may not differ from yours. I only recommend, discuss or introduce my reader to products/services/businesses I would or do use myself.