For denizens of Manila, ToHo Antigua Panciteria is one of the few culinary gems in Binondo that made the district famous. This restaurant earned its prestige for its excellent mastery of Cantonese cuisine as far back as 1888. This makes ToHo the oldest restaurant in Manila. So, pick out a dish and prepare for a delicious history lesson!
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The oldest restaurant in Manila and their food
For those who have the privilege of tasting ToHo’s dishes for the first time, a common first impression is that the restaurant’s reputation precedes it. Their bountiful servings of lumpiang shanghai or the layered textures of their famous birthday noodles are just some of the most popular stories one might hear when talking about the restaurant. We haven’t even talked about their juicy lechon macau or their steamed fish yet!
Possibly a secret to the oldest restaurant in Manila’s success is their consistent portions. When eating their miki bihon, for example, the various meats and vegetables seem a tad more than the average serving. This slight addition to the topping makes the noodles more flavourful than most restaurants would serve.
And while meat cuts seem to look larger, they’re actually very precise. Their lumpiang shanghai looks and is crispy, but the meat filling is just enough for a harmonious balance of textures and flavour. That’s how much thought goes through every dish served in ToHo.
A hundred years of history
It wouldn’t be the oldest restaurant in Manila without a few stories from the past. The most famous out of all these is ToHo’s clientele. Various urban legends tell that ToHo was a favourite dining spot of none other than the Philippines’ national hero Jose Rizal. Before he became a doctor, he studied in Intramuros. He would usually cross over the Pasig River to make his way over to the restaurant. Rizal became fascinated by the flavours of Pinoy pancit, so it would make sense if he indulged in a noodle dish at ToHo in between his studies.
Alongside Rizal, another famous diner ToHo had the privilege of serving was revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio. As a man who hails from Tondo, Bonifacio could easily walk to Binondo and enjoy some Cantonese cuisine in ToHo. While these historic heavyweights add to ToHo’s legacy, there is no concrete evidence to support the claim. But if both Rizal and Bonifacio were still among us, there’s no doubt that they would quickly become regulars.
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Since then, the oldest restaurant in Manila has gone through much throughout its 100-year existence. A fire devastated the restaurant way back in 1960 and has undergone renovations even after that. Along with the restaurant’s improvements is its growing clientele. People from as far as the south make the drive up to Manila just to dine in ToHo. This has resulted in two new branches exclusively found in Parañaque.
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ToHo’s rich history and even richer flavours make it a must-visit whenever one goes to Binondo. The oldest restaurant in Manila can still go on for a hundred years more because of its consistency and dedication to good food. Experience their time-proven dishes and become a part of history in ToHo.