Monday, 12 October 2015

TOHO: Age Old Goodness

TOHO: Age Old Goodness

It was few days ago when this person went to one of the most familiar old restaurants in Sta. Cruz district in Manila.

Founded in 1888 and considered as one of the oldest Restaurants in the Philippines, Toho, originally known as Antigua, is known for its old style Chinese cuisine people for generations indulge and talked about. And one of which is that Toho is still referred by the people by its original identity: Antigua.
Despite officially founded in 1888 by five Chinese immigrants with love for cooking (one of them was Tai Tang, the great grandfather of the current owners), its "alleged" roots were started in 1866 by Manuel “Po Kong” Bautista as according to the book "The Governor General’s Kitchen." Bautista named his restaurant "Antigua" because he was said to value things whose qualities have proven their worth over time (Antigua means Antique). As for its current name, the owners say that it is the English translation of the Hokkien word "just enough.” Historical personalities who have dined here include four Philippine presidents, actor Fernando Poe Sr, actress and singer Katy de la Cruz and Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson. But If Travel Time host Susan Calo Medina is to be believed, Jose Rizal had even ate here while he studying in Intramuros.
New Toho’s history, however, is not without challenges: that in 1984, the original Toho establishment was burned down after its neighbouring restaurant caught fire resulting to some old pictures burned save one which is featured in every food blog. The restaurant was eventually rebuilt along, hence the “new” in New Toho.

From its well-made Pork Asado to Lechon Macau (or as what they called, Lechon Kawali), it somehow made people to come and go despite its smallness and its old appearance different from typical Chinese restaurants of the present. The Asado is cooked fresh daily without any use of artificial coloring; and according to the owners, it is beautifully sweet, tender, and spicy with a subtle scent of smoked wood. The Asado is usually sold out in the afternoon.

However, this person served the food he ordered such as  Toho chicken and Yangzhou Fried Rice. Toho chicken is more of Fried Chicken that has been served with sauce reminiscent of pata tim, with Chinese Cabbage and chopped Carrots. Quite delicious though especially if it is served alongside Yangzhou fried rice which is commonly known as "Yang Chow". And by the way, even the small serving is plenty for two.

Admittingly speaking, this person somehow recalled his childhood as he entered the place, especially when he first entered Toho many years ago with his parents, eating Toho if not Fried Chicken and Yangzhou Fried Rice as well as Nido Soup, Pancit Canton, and Beef Brocoli that time. And it somehow took many years to rethink about entering Manila's oldest restaurants until he afforderd to enter and enjoy again the decades-old Chinese Cooking Toho Antigua has trying to make about.

New Toho Food Center
422-424 T. Pinpin Street, Binondo, Manila Philippines
(02) 241-4208, (02) 242-0294
Operating hours: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; closed on Sundays