Sunday, November 14, 2010
Lugang cafe is a new Chinese restaurant located in Greenhills and specializes in dishes from Taiwan, Beijing and Shanghai. The restaurant opens to the public today.
I was fortunate to have been invited to the soft opening yesterday noon. You see one of the owners is my dad's god daughter and her dad is one my dad's best buddies. Not to mention that she's also my cousin's cousin. Confused? With all these connections I was a bit nervous. What if the food was bad? How will I blog honestly about it without hurting anyone's feelings? Thank goodness I truly, truly enjoyed the meal.
Lugang Cafe is a big restaurant occupying 3 floors in a new building along the busy residential Connecticut street. It's right beside Conti's and Bikram yoga. This is a franchise of the Bellagio Management Group from Shanghai, China and is the first branch outside China. The Greenhills branch is store number 27.
The owners rented a lot across the street for parking. This was a great move!
I was really impressed with the restaurant's modern and classy interiors.
Even the ceiling lights were nice.
Almost everything was imported from China and Hong Kong, from the tables, chairs, couch and lighting.
The second floor will be opened around the 3rd week of November. The third floor is still under construction.
These semi-private seating areas will surely be very popular with bigger groups. There are also private function rooms on the 2nd floor.
Lugang cafe is owned by dynamic couple, Peter and Annie Chua.
Crystal Jade has a new competitor. Xiao long bao is one of this restaurant's specialties and they have these hard working chefs making dumplings non-stop. Peter told me one of them worked in Din Tai Fung in Taiwan for 12 years.
I was surprised to like the loofah & shrimp dumpling so much since I don't like loofah or patola. The dumpling skin had the right thickness and the filling was light and refreshing.
angled loofah w/ shrimp xiao long bao P158
I liked their xiao long bao! The skin was perfect and there was sooo much juice. My only comment is the filling lacked a little salt. That could be easily be remedied with a quick dip in their good soy sauce imported from Taiwan. This was definitely at par or maybe even better than Crystal Jade's.
xiao long bao P158
For veggie lovers this is the dumpling for you. It was filled with soft, seasoned spinach. Yummy too.
vegetable & pork dumplings P188
There were only 4 of us for lunch but Annabelle's dad sat beside us and kept ordering food he wanted us to try. He recommended the pan fried dumplings. They were crunchy and bigger than average.
pan fried dumplings P190
We don't normally order drinks but this was highly recommended. It was a great thirst quencher and not too sweet. The aloe jelly was delicious. I really liked the glasses that looked like carafes.
aloe jelly in honey lemon juice P120
For so long I lamented that there was no good milk tea in Manila. My benchmark is the nai chai of Cafe de Coral in Hong Kong. Finally I found milk tea that tasted just as good and strong. An order of hot milk tea came in a cute pot and yielded more than 2 cups.
Cantonese milk tea P140
My favorite dish was Taiwan stewed minced pork. When I went to Taiwan recently I saw this dish everywhere. I tried it twice and it didn't come close to this.
Taiwanese stewed minced pork P160
There was a whole boiled egg with the minced pork.
The pork was so tender and the sauce was indescribably good. I stopped eating white rice but I just had to order some to eat with this.
This is my idea of Chinese comfort food. Trust me, so so so good!
If you like scallions then this fragrant dish is for you. Since I'm not fond of them I just ate the chicken and wished for some ginger sauce. They did have Hainanese chicken on the menu. I can't wait to try that next time.
chicken topped with scallion & ginger oil P450
This is Jenny, one of the two Chinese managers from Beijing.
My other favorite was the very flavorful three-cup chicken. This dish was entirely made up of chicken wings chopped into tiny pieces. Strange but it worked.
three-cup chicken P290
A friend in the next table told us to order this seemingly ordinary omelet. One bite and I knew it was extraordinary. It was a Chinese style omelet that was light, fluffy and filled with tiny bits of preserved turnips. That's high praise coming from a non-egg eater.
Taiwanese omelet with preserved turnip bits P160
Taiwan omelet turnips
By this time we were all so full but the food kept coming. I had a soft tendon and some terrific spicy soup.
spicy beef and tendon noodle soup P250
I hate taro so I didn't try this. My parents loved it though. They said the taro was super soft.
sweet taro sago soup P150
Frozen desserts are their specialty and they have a thick separate menu for drinks and desserts. We all liked this because it wasn't sweet and it was slightly tart. I saw other desserts that were double in size.
passion fruit smoothy P190
I can't wait to go back for another round of Taiwan stewed minced pork, half a bowl of rice, hot milk tea and a new dessert. This restaurant will surely be a big hit. Thanks again Uncle, Annie and Peter for lunch!
more dishes and desserts here
Lugang Cafe's extensive menu (Flickr set)
(be sure to enlarge images)
dim sum & roasting, appetizer,
house special, 2, seafood, pork,
beef, poultry, tofu & vegetables
noodles, pot rice specialties & rice,
rice & soups, set meals & congee
Desserts & Drinks
iced snacks & shaved ice, ice cream & Cantonese desserts
Cantonese desserts & milk custard
smoothy, coffee & chocolate, sweet soups,
cold tea, hot tea, specialty drinks, freshly squeezed juice,
116 Connecticut St.
Northeast Greenhills, San Juan
telephone: 721-9100, 570-9011