Mention Binondo and one immediately conjures up images of crowded streets, Binondo church, Chinese herbal medicine stores, Eng Bee Tin hopia, and of course, the-hole-in-the-wall eateries. I used to live in Manila and Ongpin was a regular haunt but not anymore. Venturing to the Binondo Church one Sunday and the almost mandatory side trip to Eng Bee Tin, I chanced upon this seemingly small restaurant with the signage, “Tasty Dumplings”. And so started food trips to this eating place that yielded tasty surprises.
Ironwulf said: It’s hard to miss this establishment at the back of Binondo Church since its large yellow signage is so evident on the street. Looking at the façade, it seems like a small establishment but inside, the area stretches back giving room to a large number of people. Interior is pretty basic. But one thing I noticed is that the place is pretty clean.
Lagal[og] said: When I first stepped into this place, I was surprised by all that room that can comfortably seat almost 80-100 diners. The lighting is warm, the comfort rooms very clean, with a handwashing area that actually has hand soap in dispensers. I grew up eating in Binondo and I’m used to dingy eating places so Tasty Dumplings seem to be an anomaly in this area, but a very pleasant one at that.
Ironwulf said: The menu of tasty dumplings is typical of what you might expect from any Chinese restaurant. But highlighted are some of their house specialties, one of which I ordered was their Meatball Soup. I like mushrooms so I chose that variety and tossed in the noodles. Tasty Dumplings boasts of its authentic Taiwanese-style Meatball Soup but honestly, I find the taste a bit subtle. The mushroom meatballs have a somewhat subdued taste as well for me. You have to chew in deeper to really taste the flavors. I like strong spicy flavors in my meal that I have to dip it in the chili. Generally, it’s a lightly flavored meal.
Lagal[og] said: I’ve always ordered the house specialty, the thinly-sliced, Deep-fried Porkchop served with either rice or tossed noodles. I like mine with the soup and noodles. The soup stock has very subtle flavors which is a nice combination with the very tasty porkchop. The pork slices are very thin and flavorful. I’m a big eater but this alone is enough to fill me up.
Ironwulf said: I think their thin Deep-fried Porkchop is the main meal people should try here. I enjoyed it more and also goes well with my meatball soup. Better actually. I remember wondering how they made it so thin and tender. The thin layer of breading also adds to the flavor.
Lagal[og] said: I find the dumplings a bit on the dry side though. First time I ordered them, they were still moist and tasty even after taking them home and reheating.
Ironwulf said: Their steamed dumplings are best eaten as soon as they arrive. Hot and steamy. Leave it for a while and they turn dry easily and can actually taste bland after some time. Reheat!
Lagal[og] said: But I think Tasty Dumplings redeems itself with the Hong Ma, roast pork cooked ala pata tim style. Laden with mushrooms, steamed chuanchay and anise, the meat is also very, very tender. The sauce alone can serve as a filling for the accompanying Silver Loaf Bread with its subtle hints of ginger and chuanchay flavors. The bread arrives warm and very pleasantly soft, with a very appetizing aroma.
Ironwulf said: For the price, the large Hong Ma is a true value for money. Grab a slice of the steaming and warm Silver Loaf Bread. Add in a piece of roast pork meat, pour in a spoonful of sauce and top some chuanchay leaves and you’re in for a treat. The Hong Ma tastes similar to asado but better.
Lagal[og] said: For the drinks, I’d stick with iced tea or the usual colas as I find the Winter Melon Drink overrated.
Ironwulf said: I’d stay away from the Winter Melon Drink which the waiters claim is their specialty drink. I ordered one and it tasted like an ubersweet gulaman sans the sago. I had to order some canned soda instead.
Lagal[og] said: Price-wise, overall, Tasty Dumplings offer good value for money. On the average, one would spend 100-120 for a tasty and filling meal.
Ironwulf said: It is one budget treats find. Some meals are hit-and-miss but you wouldn’t go wrong on the prices if you are looking for something tasty to fill in your tummy without spending too much.
620 Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila
Tel. 242-5195 • Open from 9am-8.45pm, Monday-Saturday and 8am-8.45pm, Sundays
(with branches at Masangkay, Sampaloc and Banawe, Quezon City)