Traveling around Manila is not complete without dining in one of its most popular restaurants, New Toho Food Center.
Located in Tomas Pinpin Street in Binondo, New Toho Food Center is currently the oldest known restaurant in Manila. It was even mentioned in one of Jose Rizal’s novels and it is believed that he may have eaten here while being a student in Intramuros. Besides Jose Rizal, New Toho Food Center has served generations of celebrities, mayors of Manila, and even some presidents of the Philippines with its long years of serving delicious Chinese delicacies not ordinarily served in other Chinese restaurants. Some of the prominent people who dined here were Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson and actor Fernando Poe, Sr.
New Toho Food Center is founded by Manuel “Po Kong” Bautista and to this day, his family runs the place. Originally known as Toho Panciteria Antigua, it was renamed New Toho Food Center when it reopened after it was burnt in 1983.
The authentic restaurant serving costumers for over a century, continues to offer its original menu with reasonable prices since it was built in 1866. Some of its popular dishes in the 1930s which people still patronize until today are bijon tostado, sopa de nido, and pinsic frito. Today’s bestsellers include Pansit Canton and Roasted Pork Asado. New Toho’s Roasted Pork Asado is perfectly sweet and tender that by afternoon, it is already sold out. Other notable dishes are the Fish Fillet with Ginger Sauce, and the Yang Chow fried rice.
Because of its popularity, it is believed that people lined up as early as 11 a.m. to get a taste of its freshly cooked noodles. As a little tip, a secret dish can be served if you whisper them to the waitresses’ ears. The dish that is not included in the menu is called Fried Milk. It is dry-toasted noodles covered with a sauce made of milk and also includes pork and shrimp.
Dining in the restaurant is like getting a glimpse of the past. Its current owner, Alger Wong, claimed that the reason why New Toho Food Center has lasted this long is because it has become a tradition for several Filipino families, passed from one generation to another.