CHECK IT OUT: New dishes at Lugang Caf?
Find out why it’s best to visit this restaurant on an empty stomach.
115 Connecticut Street, Northeast Greenhills
San Juan City, Metro Manila
Tel. No. 542-0196
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Monday to Thursday and Sunday) and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Friday and Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Chinese food has already become part of a Pinoy’s repertoire of eats-so much so that many of us take it for granted. Since its debut in the Metro Manila food scene in 2008, Lugang Café-a franchise of China’s Bellagio Café-has introduced a fresh culinary perspective to the ubiquitous cuisine with its line-up of dishes that are a fusion of traditional dishes from mainland China and Taiwanese favorites. Katrina Chua, Lugang Café’s dining operations manager, explained, "Taiwanese cuisine is really a mix of Chinese regional cuisines. That’s why it's very hard to pinpoint a strictly Taiwanese dish." Then again, the restaurant’s patrons aren’t complaining.
This year, with its third branch (the second one is at the SM Mall of Asia) set to open at SM North Edsa’s The Block in December, Lugang Café is once again highlighting its bestsellers and must-trys, as well as unveiling its latest offerings.
As appetizers go, the Abalone Mushroom and Jelly Fish (P280) pleasantly shocks your taste buds with the springy texture of the mixed noodle-thin strips and the tangy spiciness of a dressing that’s enhanced by a smattering of julienned red bell peppers. Meanwhile, the eight-piece serving of the Steamed Chicken Xiao Long Bao (P228) is a nice contrast to the exotic dish, what with its warm gingery broth flooding your mouth as you bite into each delicate dim sum. If you want something that’s even more dainty, you’d be pleased with a platter of Steamed Scallops with Garlic Vermicelli (P480), which has bite-sized servings presented on scallop shells.
If you want a quick hunger fix while you wait for your main course, the Mayonnaise Prawns (P680), which rest on a bed of broccoli, will keep you momentarily sated and, at the same time, anticipating more. The skill and patience of its roster of Chinese chefs is evident in the Dong Bo Pork Belly With Steamed Buns (P420). The sweet-salty pork belly is so soft that it practically melts in your mouth. The sticky-yet-soft buns are the perfect complements for the succulent meat.
For the main courses, you can’t go wrong with the aromatic Chicken Topped With Scallions and Ginger Oil (P490). The tender chicken meat has been infused with the subtle flavor of ginger and amped up with the refreshing bite of chopped scallions. The dish goes well with the Seafood Pumpkin Rice Soufflé (P380), a delectable risotto-like creation. Want a little more kick? Then, go for the Black Pepper Premium Beef Ribs (P550), which is garnished with peppercorn, white onion slices, and chopped celery.
In case you still have room for dessert, try the Fresh Mango in Glutinous Rice Wrap with Coconut Flakes (P120). Or, you can finish off your meal with a glass of Aloe Jelly in Honey Lemon Juice (P130). The flavored jelly cubes will definitely soothe your palate. It’s that or you go into a food-induced euphoric trance.
Our tip: If you’re planning to visit Lugang Café anytime soon, make like the regulars and make sure your belly is empty when you drop by. You’re going to need all the tummy space you can spare.
Art by Warren Espejo, with photos by Carla de Guzman and Lugang Café