Sunday, 20 April 2014

Restaurant Review: New Toho Food Center (Manila)

New Toho Food Center

Ground floor dining area
In 1888 (others say 1866), Manuel "Po Kong" Bautista and his 4 Chinese friends decided to set up a restaurant called Toho Antigua Panciteria along San Jacinto (now Tomas Pinpin) St. in Binondo.  They did everything - cooking the food, washing dishes, serving the customers and, after closing time, cleaning.

After awhile, 4 of the owners decided to return to China leaving Toho to Tai Tang. His 7 children eventually took over management of the place.  In 1984, a fire razed the old wooden building and the restaurant was rebuilt, this time in sturdy concrete, and renamed as New Toho Food Center.  Today, Tai Ping's grandchildren manage the place.

Beef ampalaya

Haykang Soup
In Hokkien, the word toho means "just enough."  Four Philippine presidents, actor Fernando Poe Sr. (father of Fernando Poe, Jr.), actress and singer Katy de la Cruz and Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson have all dined here. 

It is also believed that National Hero Jose Rizal, during his student days, frequented the place for its pancit canton and lumpiang shanghai. Still located at its original site, it is the oldest existing restaurant in the country today.

Fish fillet with ginger sauce

Toho beef
Domesticated Chinese comfort food such as sopa de nido (bird’s nest soup), camaron rebosado (breaded shrimp), pinsic frito (fried wonton stuffed with beef) and bijon tostado (toasted fried bihon), popular during the 1930s, can still be found in their menu, a lot of them the core of home cooking. 

People also lined up, as early as 11 AM and again at 5 PM, just to buy their freshly cooked pansit canton (stir-fried noodles), a Toho bestseller.  The roasted, beautifully sweet and tender pork asado, another must-try, is cooked fresh daily, without the use of artificial coloring, and is usually sold out by afternoon.

Pinsec frito

Seafood chopsuey
The pat mi shrimp (battered fried shrimp in spicy sauce) and fried milk (dry-roasted noodles with bits of pork and shrimp that's covered with a sauce made from milk) are also dishes you don't normally find in other Chinese restaurants.  

Just don't expect much from the place in terms of china and glassware and the way it looks from the inside and out.  The second floor, though, has an airconditioned dining area.
Toho has two branches, both using the old name Toho Antigua, at 16 Presidents Ave., BF Homes, Paranaque City (tel: 820-0668 to 69, open 10 AM - 10 PM) and at the second floor of SM City BF, also in Paranaque City.  Major credit cards are accepted in both places.

Old 1954 photo of restaurant

New Toho Food Center: 422-424 Tomas Pinpin St. near cor. Dasmarinas St., Binondo, Manila. Tel: (632) 242-0294 and 241-4208. Open Mondays to Saturdays, 8:30 AM - 9 PM, Sundays, 8:30 AM- 2 PM.

1 comment:

  1. Okay rin sa mga cheap na chinese resto pero try niyo rin sa luxury resto sulit naman hehe eto po yung mga choices where to eat in manila then eto pa where is the best dimsum