Since T stayed in Shanghai for a while and has been going back and forth since then, she immediately tried Lugang Cafe the moment their first branch opened along Connecticut street in Greenhills. She was happy with the quality of the food and told me that some of the servers there were the same ones who were in the Shanghai branch.
I was sold. I really trust T for her taste in food and after hearing her raves about Lugang Cafe, I made reservations to have dinner there with my college best friend L and her fiance T a week after.
Paul and I really look forward to dinners with them as we have been double-dating for more than seven years already! You see, both T and Paul courted L and I almost around the same time. So even the guys turned out to be good buddies as they both share their love for photography and they both have pretty good taste in girls, don't you think? *wink*. L and T are tying the knot soon and Paul and I are very excited for them!
Unfortunately, due to work, we were half an hour late and I immediately sent L an SMS to go order first. We arrived with a huge steamer basket on the table. L ordered their famous Xiao Long Pao (Php. 158) which I was excited to try and compare with Crystal Jade. One order has 6 pieces which is more than Crystal Jade's. As I pick one piece up though, I had to be extra careful as the wrapper was quite thin and I was afraid to tear it open spilling the soup inside. The meat has just the right amount but then I would have enjoyed it more if they can improve on the wrapper.
Aside from the Xiao Long Pao, we also got the Steamed Vegetable and Pork Dumplings (Php. 188). This one was pretty good, I was happy with the filling and that it was not filled with pork fat which can really ruin one's bite.
T requested for the Chicken topped with Scallion and Ginger Oil (Php. 450). I love scallions and I immediately agreed with him. We enjoyed the tender chicken and Paul and I couldn't help but scoop up the scallions and put them on top of our rice for added flavor. The serving is good for four already making it pretty reasonable.
I took note of several things to order after reading about Lugang Cafe from one of my favorite local food blogs. Leslie couldn't stop raving about the Taiwanese Stewed Minced Pork (Php. 160) and how tender the meat was and the sauce was as she said, "indescribably good". With a description like that, I knew I just have to give it a try myself. I'm glad that my companions agreed to order this too.
Leslie was right, we even fought the temptation to order another bowl of rice each as this dish was so good that it tastes wonderful when eaten with rice. The flavor was very rich and two people can already share on one order.
Another recommendation that I got from Leslie was the Beef with Chinese Crullers (Php. 280). Paul loves Chinese Crullers otherwise known as You Tiao. These are the fried dough fritters that we normally would eat with congee or alone coated in sugar. I find this dish quite interesting as we've never had crullers with meat before. Prior to ordering this, I forgot to tell Paul that Chinese Crullers are his favorite you tiao so just imagine his surprised look the moment he bit into the crullers with beef. He loved it very much that the dish was permanently parked in front of the guys that evening. The beef was tender and I was glad that it was cooked well that I didn't came across any blood or extremely pinkish meat. It also has a few chopped celery which added more flavor to the meat. Together with the Stewed Minced Pork, these two were indeed the highlight of our meal.
With so much stories to tell, we were still not ready to call it a night and T suggested that we try one of their desserts. Tables around us were ordering the humongous Bellagio Breeze but we opted for something more manageable -- Fresh Mango Cubes on Shaved Ice (Php. 190). We all loved the sweet mangoes and this dessert reminded us of Ice Monster which we all enjoyed during our college days.
I love the modern interiors of Lugang Cafe and the tall pretty glass dividers that they have for those who wants a little bit more privacy at the second floor. We went on a Thursday night and the place was packed. It's a good thing we've made reservation thus the ease of securing a table. I highly recommend for all to make reservations before going there in order to lessen your waiting time.
I'm glad that more and more Asian restaurants are coming to Manila. Finally we can have a taste of Shanghai right here at Lugang Cafe.
p.s. No need to worry about parking too as they have their very own parking lot located right across the restaurant.
*photo credit: Paul Ang
Lugang Cafe is located at 115 Connecticut street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. Call them at 775-7599 / 0917-6992254.