We were wrong. Strangely, happily so.
You can't really get into a festive mood when there are no people around, so we were thrust into the usual cacophony of sounds, sights and smells I have come to associate with this corner of the metro, a mixture of eastern medicine, star anise, wok frying, horse manure and estero headiness.
Our unofficial guide, my friend Abner (who's lived in Chinatown all his life) brought us around, as we boldly declared "food trip!" when we decided to visit him in his part of town.
Our first stop was Golden Fortune Seafood Restaurant, along Soler Street, which we walked quite a distance to because we had to find parking at the next available slot. (I forgot now which street we were parked in.) Abner was telling us about the 48 peso promotion they had for all their dimsum items, and this was something I had to see for myself.
We got to the restaurant, which was a little below street level, and what greeted us was a standard sight in Chinese restaurants that served seafood:
An aquarium filled with live seafood that was ready for the picking. Coupled with the dim lights and the nonchalant way the server would speak, I knew I was in a Chinese restaurant.
From 2 to 5PM, most of the dimsum items were priced at only 48 pesos per steamed basket. The only one that cost 68 pesos was the hakaw, as well as the noodles and congee items, which cost 78 pesos each. You could list your choices to the server, or go to the steaming area to pick out the dimsum goodies yourself.
Here's a sampling of what was available.
Century Egg Siomai
Shark's Fin Siomai
Bean curd Roll
Sliced Fish Congee
Wanton Noodle Soup
The only miss among these items was the lobster ball, which was really not much better from a similar snack being offered on the street outside. Everything else was quite delicious, and I would like to especially mention the radish cake as being very good, they had a crispy coating while maintaining that soft, savory, gooey and delicious middle.
We were so stuffed (thanks to the congee and noodle bowls, which we were told were good for one, and they might have meant one family, they were huge servings), we strolled around for hours (at least two) after that because we felt we had no space left to enjoy whatever delectable morsels we would pass by, and it wouldn't be fair to them.
We fittingly ended our trip at a food market that was beside Lucky Chinatown Mall, and while the food is the main draw, what caught my fancy were the decorations and the design, which reminded me of the shophouses in Bugis, Singapore.
Until the next Binondo food trip.