Words by Danielle Castillo
Photos by Trina Armedilla
If you love Chinese cuisine and delicacies, then you must’ve heard about Eng Bee Tin at some point in your life. A revolutionizer in the Philippine food world, Gerry Chua introduced us to the wonders of Hopia Ube and many more decadent sweets. Thus, it comes off as no surprise to us when a hip new Chinese restaurant in Binondo, also owned by the Chuas, serves food that exhibits the same innovative character—The Great Buddha Cafe.
Roche Chua, daughter of Mr. Ube himself and the overall manager of the restaurant, shares that each food item they put out are prepared, cooked, and served in a way that is unique only to The Great Buddha Cafe. Here are a few of the most mouth-watering and innovative dishes from TGBC that you should try out!
5. Beef Tendon Claypot Rice
Usually, tendons are regarded to be tough and chewy. Well, in The Great Buddha Cafe, they don’t subscribe to that belief. These beef tendons are so soft that they melt in your mouth. Just let it sit there on top of your tongue and let the tendon fall apart into a sticky heavenly goodness. Pair it with rice and their oh-so-rich sauce and you’ve got yourself a winning dish.
4. Hong Kong Style Honey Asado
Aromatic and bursting with roasted flavor, this Hong Kong Style Honey Asado is sure to leave you speechless at the first bite. Each thin cut of meat packs so much of that addicting sweet-savory taste that will leave you shouting to the waiter, “MORE RICE, PLEASE!”
3. Han Sui Kok
While The Great Buddha Cafe’s other dumplings are exquisite as well, their Han Sui Kok is definitely something you’d go back for over and over again once you’ve gotten a taste of it. Its outer layer is such a beautiful golden color that you can almost hear its crispiness at first sight.
When you finally open it up, you’ll see a buchi-like soft layer between the breading and the moist meat filling. The sweetness of the sticky layer and the savory goodness of the meat inside, when combined with the delightful crunchiness of the outer layer, definitely make a dish that is to die for.
2. Soy Chicken With Ginger Sauce
In most East Asian cuisines, the concept of Yin and Yang is observed. A meal should have both light and rich moments. This is what this wondrous soy chicken aims to do. Texture wise, the chicken looks absolutely stunning—glistening brown skin and soft white meat that glides off the bone with ease.
I was delightfully surprised when the flavor hit me. Instead of the usual sweetness, I encountered this light refreshing heavenly taste that cleansed my palate of the dishes I’ve had before. Dip it into their one-of-a-kind ginger sauce to make the most of your meal.
1. Cream Cheese Nai Cha
Lastly, they have this amazing dessert drink. Instead of the usual liquid cheese which most milk tea outlets pour on top of the drink, The Great Buddha Cafe takes a different approach to things. A generous amount of SOLID cream cheese is heaped on top of their signature milk tea. The creamy, velvety, and salty taste of the cheese compliments the muted sweetness of the Nai Cha.
Heed our advice though! This is something you don’t drink with a straw or mix with a spoon. Just sip and enjoy!
Aside from incredibly good food, The Great Buddha Cafe also prides itself in its advocacy—promoting Chinatown Binondo as a tourist spot in the Philippines. You’ll know full well that they’re not kidding around either when they say this. As soon as you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice two things that make The Great Buddha Cafe truly different from the rest. One, there’s a 1.2-ton golden Buddha sitting inside their premises…
And two, they have this souvenir shop where you can buy tons of trinkets concerning Filipino and Chinese culture. What’s even better is that the products are not only affordable, they’re also sourced from local artists!
Look at this cute tissue paper holder. So unique!
Magnets for days.
Craving Chinese? What are you waiting for? Experience this amazing dining experience now at Chinatown!
The Great Buddha Cafe
2F 628 Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila