Food & Drink

Manila's 12 Oldest Restaurants and What They Look Like Now

Enduring trends since 1866.
IMAGE Majoy Siason
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New Toho Restaurant at Tomas Pinpin Street, Binondo, Manila (1866) 

Ironically, this restaurant was formerly called Antigua because founder Manuel Bautista was fond of old things. Now, the restaurant has become an antique in itself. The new name translates to “just enough” in Hokkien.



Ambos Mundos at Santa Cruz, Manila (1888) 

Founded by Spanish immigrants years before the revolution, this restaurant serves both Spanish and Filipino dishes. A perfect example is their Paella Manileña, which continues to be one of their bestsellers.



  

Ilang Ilang Restaurant in San Nicolas (1908-10) 

This was a noodle shop owned by a cook from Xiamen and was considered back in the days as an upscale restaurant. Today, they mainly provide catering services.


 

R Ma Mon Luk along Quezon Boulevard (1920)  

Ma Mon Luk worked as a street vendor in Manila, peddling chicken noodles. He eventually earned enough to open his own restaurant. His bestseller, Ma’s Mi translates to Ma’s Noodle--a dish we’re all familiar with now.



 


Ramon Lee's Panciteria at Santa Cruz, Manila (1929) 

Ramon Lee planned to open a restaurant in the Philippines then return to China to marry his fiancée. After the war, he reopened his restaurant which now serves his wife’s fried chicken.


 

Aristocrat along Roxas Boulevard (1936) 

Aling Asiang of The Aristocrat fame pioneered food trucks in the country. Their chicken used to be sold through the windows of an old Ford van along Dewey Boulevard, now known as Roxas Boulevard.

 


 

Boy Ching Woo in Caloocan (1939) 

A refugee from Macau, Nicolas Woo Sr. tried to make a living in Manila by selling miki and pancit alanganin (incomplete), which is a pancit lomi without egg. The restaurant is now managed by third-generation Woos.

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Ongpin Mañosa in Binondo (1940)

It's managed by the Mañosa family, but the word mañosa coincidentally also means "skillful" and "clever" in Spanish.

 


 

Max's Restaurants in Roxas Boulevard (1945) 

After the war, Stanford-educated teacher Maximo Gimenez opened a café where he could chat with his American soldier friends. The café served chicken, steak, and drinks. The chicken was a hit and the rest was history.


 

 

Little Quiapo in Quezon City (1949) 

Interestingly enough, this restaurant never had a branch in its namesake. The owner was an ice cream vendor who sold his homemade cool treats to hospitals until he made enough to set up a restaurant that became famous for its Special Halo-Halo. 


 

Chuan Kee in Binondo (1940s) 

This restaurant used to be an grocery with a small dining area adjacent it. The place became known for its kiampong or rice cooked in pork stock, a snack reminiscent of Japan’s onigiri. Gerry Chua of Eng Bee Tin eventually bought the restaurant when founder Co Bio Tsing’s descendants decided to pursue other interests.


 

Shantung Restaurant (1958)  

This restaurant known to political personalities and presidents started as a three-table eatery in Binondo. They have moved several times before settling on West Avenue in Quezon City.



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About The Author
Nicai de Guzman
Nicai de Guzman is the Head of Marketing of Rising Tide, one of the fastest-growing mobile and digital advertising technology companies in the Philippines. She also writes for SPOT.ph and Entrepreneur.com.ph.
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