I have always wanted to explore Binondo, also known as Chinatown, but so far I have only walked the length of Ongpin Street from Plaza Sta. Cruz. I didn't actually get any chance of eating their famous food, since the main objective of going there was to find and buy fenugreek seeds by the kilo. Unfortunately for me, we didn't find any seller of the said seeds in Ongpin, an idea given to me by a forum post of last year's.
The story behind the fenugreek seed search is a very long one, and hence will be told someday, eventually, when I have nothing else to share anymore. Now let's get to business. I saw a lot of buyers buying a lot of these fresh lumpia from a small restaurant called New Eastern Garden Restaurant on our tiring back and forth treking of the lengthy Ongpin Street. Seriously, why did I even forget to bring the Ivan Man Dy guide to Chinatown! Oh well..We then decided to eat here, with me ordering their large fresh lumpia at the very affordable price of Php 39, and with my hunny eating his late lunch of Lomi Noodles in thick soup which costs Php 70.
The low price doesn't mean that it's of low quality at all. The restaurant, as small and cramped as it may be, may seem uninviting. In fact, when we went in, we were the only dine-in customers. All of the other customers, mostly pure Chinese and tsinoys speaking their language which I cannot possibly decipher in any way, bought their lumpia for take out. And oh boy do they buy a lot of lumpia! They buy dozens, even boxes. I did not see any customer buy less than five lumpia at once.
All of that I saw while waiting patiently for my order, which is freshly made. It's larger than the fresh lumpia that Goldilocks used to sell, and it is definitely the best one that I have had. I am admittedly not a fresh lumpia fan. I hated them, and occasionally, when I'm in the mood, I can't even finish half of it. But this one I finished all right, all by myself. It's just that good. Simple and really good, with the taste just right, not overpowering as many have been.
The sauce was not too tasty, but just has the right blend of sweet and salty and garlic enough to bring out the natural flavors of the vegetables and shrimp in the lumpia. It’s not too thick nor sweet as many have been making. I just love it!
Before I completely forget about the Lomi, let me describe it in one word: amazing. I hate Lomi. I swore to loathe it, along with other thick noodles like the Pancit Malabon noodles. But their Lomi was different. It doesn’t have the aftertaste of those commercially prepared Lomi. I’m guessing that theirs were freshly made. And the soup was just right. Not too salty nor tasting like those instant seasonings, but made with real and fresh ingredients. It was that good.
Now let me share with you our recipe for lumpiang sariwa, which I adjusted so it would taste like the one from Ongpin. Well, it almost did.
Fresh Lumpia Recipe
- 1/2 kilo shrimp, shelled, and finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, cut into thin equal strips
- 1/2 tsp finely chopped parsley (kinchay)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into thin equal strips
- 10 washed small lettuce leaves
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic, minced and finely chopped
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
- peanuts, preferably ground, for topping
- 1 c. of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 c. of corn or tapioca starch
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 2 3/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
- 1-1/2 cups of water
- 2 tbsp. of cornstarch
- 4 tbsp. of sugar
- Pan-fry the sweet potatoes in oil until lightly browned. Transfer to a dry container.
- Saute the garlic and onion in the remaining oil. Do not brown.
- Add the shrimp, carrot, parsley, and sesame seeds. Stir while cooking over medium heat. Add the cooked sweet potatoes, and cook until done.
- Drain using a strainer to remove excess oil.
- Cook the lumpia wrappers by beating the egg with the water. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
- On a non-stick pan, pour 1/10 of the batter at the middle and swirl pan to distribute batter thinly. Cook well over low heat until sides are lifting from the pan and the crepe doesn't wrinkle when a spatula is slid underneath.
- On each crepe, lay one lettuce leaf, then put 3 tablespoons of vegetables at the center of the lettuce and roll while tucking the sides.
- Cook the sauce by mixing all ingredients together and put in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil then simmer down until desired thickness is obtained.
- Let cool completely, then drizzle over lumpia.