Thursday, September 5, 2019

Celebrating Mooncake Festival the Traditional Way with Eng Bee Tin

Mooncake season is here! With beautifully designed Chinese baked treats in countless shelves in the market, the only other thing that excites me is the annual dice game. Known in Manila as Mooncake Festival and more aptly called Mid-Autumn Festival in China, this tradition can be traced all the way back during the Qing Dynasty in 1600. It has been said that this celebration is to give good luck to scholars for their exams hence the game being known as zhuang yuan bo bing. It eventually evolved throughout the years and we now veer away from mooncakes as prizes and give out snacks or money instead. But Eng Bee Tin had the wonderful idea to bring back tradition. 

Hello, Eng Bee Tin and The Great Buddha Cafe

Eng Bee Tin has been around for over a decade now having started in 1912. Its name has been closely related to hopia and tikoy that others actually use the brand name when referring to these Chinese favorites.

True to its passion of keeping traditions, Eng Bee Tin decided to host a Dice Game. And unlike how most of us play this fun game, we followed how it was played back in the 1600... with mooncakes as prizes.
We were treated to some lovely Chinese dishes before the game which were all delicious. The Great Buddha Cafe may not be your fancy Chinese restaurant in 5-star hotels but this place serves simple, no-frills dishes that would make you feel right at home. 
We started off with some milk tea which was a tad too sweet for my liking but nothing additional water or ice can't solve. I liked Jasmine Tea more but I could be biased as I love tea.

Seafood Spinach Soup (PHP320, medium | PHP450m large) was a nice way to start our meal as it was drizzling a bit that night. Plus it was a bit chilly as well where we sat. The soup was thick and packed with various seafood chunks. I wasn't able to take a photo though as I was famished! 

Soy Garlic Chicken (PHP210 with rice | PHP350, half order a la carte | PHP600, whole chicken a la carte) was good too. Think of Hainanese Chicken but cooked with soy sauce and garlic for extra flavor. The meat was really tender and juicy in every bite.

Pork Ribs with Honey Garlic Sauce (PHP320) is perfect for those who loved sweet and savory dishes. This was actually one of my favorites that night. Texture reminded me of the typical sweet and sour pork dish but this one had that addictive garlicky flavor which I love.
Healthy eaters would enjoy Fish Fillet-Tofu Hotpot (PHP340). Don't let its light color fool you as this is also a tasty treat.

I loved that The Great Buddha Cafe's Stir-Fried Asado Noodles (PHP240) wasn't overly oily yet remained flavorful. I also liked the generous serving of carrots which added crunch. 
After a quick game introduction by Binondo expert Ivan Man Dy, we were then divided into different groups for the dice game.

Hopia of different sizes were the prizes for the first round and all the chongwan (player with the best dice combination)  from each group get to roll the dice again for bigger ticket items ranging from Eng Bee Tin gift certificates to a DeVant television. 
I was chongwan on my first dice game experience but I wasn't very lucky this time. My best roll got me the second biggest hopia. R though was extremely lucky!
He was chongwan in their group and bested the other chongwan players when they rolled again for the final round.

And guess what we brought home? A brand new television!

It was definitely a memorable night. We all had fun and were extremely competitive even when the prizes were all hopia. Eng Bee Tin definitely proved the point that you don't need grand prizes to enjoy this traditional game. What matters is great company to share this experience with.

Mark your calendars as Mooncake Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival happens on September  13, 2019. Round up your family and friends and share this tradition with them

Eng Bee Tin/The Great Buddha Cafe is located at 628 Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila.

The Great Buddha Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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