Oh Dong Bei!

Dumplings make us happy!

One of the reasons why I allowed myself to be dragged out of bed on a Sunday morning was the prospect of taking a bite out of Dong Bei's kutchay dumplings once again. I love hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the kind where they cook real food. Fine dining is great, of course, specially when the chef is a particularly talented one. But there's just something to be said about tiny affairs where the cook gained his experience in his mother's kitchen, and where recipes are passed on from one generation to the next. Okay, I may be romanticizing a bit here, but you know what I mean!

Anyway, I couldn't take credit for discovering this hole-in-the-wall gem. It was part of Ivan Man Dy's Old Manila Walks Chinatown tour, which I took years ago. I've gone back to Dong Bei's a couple of more times through the years. However, this is the first time that I'd visit it with Eka.

Mom was so excited to go to this place. After our fabric hunting adventure, we found ourselves at 168 mall. Mom gave me the address to the dumpling place but I had no idea where it was. Usually, I would whip out my iPad and consult the ever-so-reliable Google Maps. But we were in Divisoria so I didn't want to risk it. Next best thing: Get a pedicab. When we told the manong driver our destination, he made it seem so far that we thought 50 bucks was a fair price to pay. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at Dong Bei in less than 5 minutes! Lesson of the day: Never pay more than 20 bucks for a pedicab ride.

After walking for hours, it seems, we were famished. We ordered a plate of dumplings, half pork, half kutchay and some Xiao Long Bao. I actually wanted to get some rice, but they had ran out. The tables were full, and every so often, another group of diners would come in and wait for a table to be free. It's that kind of place: You want to savor every morsel of those delicious dumplings, but then you're also kind of in a hurry because you know there are others waiting. Still, we took our time. It's not every day that I get to eat here.

It was just this tiny place, and the girls were making the dumplings right there for everyone to see. Natuwa ako watching how they made our dumplings right beside our table. It seemed so casual and ordinary. I just wish they washed their hands! The girl who took our order was the one who made our dumplings and got our payment later on. Ack! Nonetheless, it was quite good for the price. Very sulit! I believe the magic is in the sauce.

It was a good day. Not only was Erika able to get her fabrics dirt cheap, we were also able to eat some yummy dumplings and buy some broccoli, baby eggplants, and French beans. They made for a lovely dinner that very same night! 

Dong Bei Dumplings is at 642 Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila.


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Erika & Jing

Erika is a budding entrepreneur, who dreams of having her own fashion label one day. She's the mommy of Sophie and the daughter of Jing, a fortysomething single mom of four, who's a writer, editor, and craft enthusiast. Click here to read more.