Last Sunday, I woke up wanting to go to Ongpin, the Chinese Capital of the Philippines. As soon as I opened my eyes after a long and quiet sleep, my katawang lupa (flesh and corporeal being) just suddenly crave for the look, the noise and the smell of Ongpin.
Thanks to super friend Willie, he accompanied me and made my silly craving a reality. My longing was really plain and unchallenging. I just wanted to walk the super busy street of Ongpin, buy a snack and then leave. But thank goodness I was with itinerant Willie because he knows a very good eatery in this old and hoary part of Manila.
We dined at what is known as Estero. It is a non-air-conditioned diner that is right beside a creek and a tidal channel used as drainage canal in the overly populated area of Manila. I was at first so tentative and doubtful about the place. But when the gentle lady manning the eatery approached us and handed the menu, I knew that I was into some exciting gastronomic adventure.
Estero is tagged as a fast food on the internet but it is unlike the usual fast food that items were pre-prepared and placed on a heater display. Estero food are only cooked upon ordering. Maybe the reason why it is called fast food is because the kitchen is equipped with high pressure burners and the cooks prepare their dishes so fast. In a haste, the server was already serving our freshly cooked Hototay and the surprisingly crunchy Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sprouts.
Aside from the very good food, Estero’s price was surprisingly cheap. Total bill of all the fantastic dishes we ordered was roughly around 8 (US) dollars.