Binondo…Manila’s Chinatown. It is tight, cramped, crowded, but at the same time it is a feast for the eyes, ears and most especially the tongue. For some, it is a place to avoid – with heavy traffic, difficult parking, and a chaotic crowd, yet others go to great lengths to get there for the great food, exotic buys and cheap bargains. What it is not however, is place where you you would expect a big high end mall to be put up. Long a bastion of quaint and unassuming shops and restaurants tightly squeezed together, you could hardly think there’s any space there to put up a new building, much less a sprawling shopping center. But, surprise surprise, there is one there now.
The new Mall is named the Lucky Chinatown, and though the name sounds like a small town hardware or general merchandise store, don’t be misled – it is a high end shopping mall. Not “high end” in the same manner as say Greenbelt 5, but you wouldn’t mistake it for an SM either. It is Megaworld’s newest baby, the same developer behind Eastwood and Resorts World Manila.
The mall is just a few blocks away from the area’s main landmark – the Binondo Church, but as people familiar with the area would know, it’s also in the middle of all the vehicular traffic. Though not a problem for the rich but unassuming clientele who live nearby, the traffic around the area coupled with Megaworld’s curious knack for making parking confusing as a puzzle (try parking under the Eastwood mall to know what I mean), then getting to the mall is pretty daunting for anyone coming from outside Binondo.
Once you get in though, you are greeted by the mall’s posh, but not intimidating interior. Many shops were not yet opened as of June 2012, but there is already a good selection there to make shopping worthwhile. Dining options are familiar, and fairly similar to what you would find at Eastwood, and they have what it perhaps the most catchy cinema lobby.
The mall is good place for a mall rat to relax and be “at home”, however unless you live in Binondo, there really isn’t much of a reason to brave the crowd, the traffic (and the parking) to get there, other than just to satisfy one’s curiosity. It is an “above average” mall I would say, but there’s barely anything there that you wouldn’t find at the Glorietta, or the Shangri-la, both of which are friendlier to both commuters and drivers. This is not to detract from Lucky Chinatown though, as it is clearly targetted for the money that goes around Binondo, and not for the traveler from a nearby city who is deep in adventure but shallow in the pocket. However, if you happen to be wandering around Binondo for one reason or another, then this is a good place for a cool stop.
*Photos taken last June 2012, with Panasonic Lumix LX5.