Sunday, November 18, 2007


Every now and then you hear about one of those little restaurants tucked away in the strangest of places. You know--the ones you never even heard of but the locals are lining up around the block just to get a table?

This is about my visit to one of them. Sincerity is a little Chinese eatery on Yuchengco Street, just off Ongpin, not far from Binondo Church. It is surrounded by distributors of stationary and school supplies and you wonder why it’s there. The obvious answer of course, is to serve the locals. And serve them it does.

It sure seemed like a long way to go for lunch (we live in San Juan, and my parents-in-law took me). Like most restaurants in the area, when you walk in, it’s all business. It’s a clean, well lighted place. You go to the counter and place your order (tell whoever’s with you to grab a table, quick!); no atmosphere or ambiance here, just good old fashioned Chinese food.

I guess I could best describe the fare as “Chinese comfort food”. Sort of like a pinoy Aristocrat. If you’re coming here for the first time, there are 3 things (with me, there are always 3 things) you should always order: the fried chicken (don’t bother with ketchup), the oyster cake (ok, you can use ketchup with this) and the chami.

The fried chicken is buttery and flavorful. You know its probably bad for you, but you just reach for another piece. You came all the way here to watch your diet?

Oyster cake is an acquired taste for a lot of people. I first learned to eat it in Taipei, where it was the highlight of every street-food dinner. This had the same, unpretentious-but-wholesome feel to it.

As to the noodles, I prefer the sate bihon myself, very very flavorful.

With places like this, the proof is really in the eating, words can only say so much as they are intended to speak to one’s brain and not one’s palate. So the next time you set out for (or get dragged to) 168 for your Christmas shopping, make sure to drop by this place on your way back.