From the streets
Towards the end of the 1800’s, our great-great-grandfather left Guangdong to look for new opportunities in Manila. Having not much other than recipes from his hometown, he decided to sell his special lugaw and bitso-bitso on the streets of Binondo. He carried his yoke and baskets around to peddle food until he could save up enough to start his own karihan.
To the stalls
Karihan Antigua, which means old eatery, was put up in Binondo to serve old Cantonese recipes. Although the district's population was largely Chinese, its long history in Manila meant that it already had its own unique blend of Chinese, Filipino, and Spanish cultures. Taking this into account, Panciteria San Jacinto was established to serve food that is distinctly Binondo's.
Becoming San Jacinto
In 1894, Panciteria San Jacinto opened on Calle San Jacinto serving Cantonese food with Filipino and Spanish influences. Its popularity with both Chinese and Filipino diners helped the panciteria become a staple in Binondo. The name San Jacinto became more synonymous with its food and less with its location that it kept its name even after the street was renamed to T. Pinpin in 1913.
Panciteria San Jacinto survived WWII despite Manila being a major battleground. Unfortunately, a huge building fire in 1984 eventually brought it down. But the determination to continue San Jacinto still prevailed. Rather than seeing it as a setback, it was viewed as a chance to rebuild elsewhere and introduce San Jacinto’s food to a wider audience.
A new home was found along Quezon Avenue right next to Delta Theater. The old panciteria was reintroduced as New San Jacinto Food Center to mark this new chapter. Being the only one of its kind outside Binondo, San Jacinto became the go-to Cantonese restaurant in the area for all kinds of occasions -- from the simplest moments to the most special celebrations.
Sharing San Jacinto
Classic Chinatown cuisine was largely unknown outside Binondo and some places in Metro Manila. For San Jacinto, this meant that it still had a lot to share to fill the gap. This led to the opening of franchises in Pasig and Pampanga in 1996. Bearing the old Panciteria San Jacinto name, the franchises delighted diners by bringing the San Jacinto experience closer to them.
Closing a chapter
In 2009, New San Jacinto Food Center had to temporarily cease operations due to unfortunate circumstances. It briefly reopened as Cocoo Restaurant until its closure in 2012. Meanwhile, the franchises decided to move on from the San Jacinto brand and continue under new names. These restaurants still exist and are carrying on with heavy influence from San Jacinto.
Finding new paths
Even though the restaurant could not continue, San Jacinto figured out new ways to keep the old tradition alive. With the original recipes carefully kept and the love for cooking still intact, San Jacinto chose to focus on other food-related ventures. The menu was extended to accommodate catering and cafeteria demands while staying true to the San Jacinto tradition.
Continuing the tradition
For the past decade, orders for old San Jacinto favorites have kept coming despite the absence of a restaurant. This heartwarming recognition of our food encouraged us to continue the legacy of San Jacinto. Our new journey starts in a humble place, just like how everything began. Because it doesn't matter where San Jacinto is. What matters is that it's San Jacinto.