Episode 57: A Limited Edition Challenge – Turning Chinese at Lugang Cafe

If there’s one thing I love about eat-all-you-can promos, it’s that you get a chance to try out a restaurant’s specialties. Such was the case one weekend, when I decided I go splurge a bit and dine at Lugang Cafe, one of the Asian restaurants at the SM North EDSA area. They still had their eat-all-you-can promo, so why not give it a try, I thought. (It already ended as of this writing.)

Lugang Cafe is actually the Philippine branch of the Shanghai-based Bellagio Restaurant. Known for its wide selection of authentic Chinese dishes, it became a quick favorite among foodies, soon becoming a recipient of Philippine Tatler’s 100 Best Restaurant Awards. The ambiance gives the place an impression of a fine-dining restaurant. That much should alert a gourmand that the food there is world-class and high-class.

I’ve passed by Lugang and noticed their promo several times, but I a;ways held myself back. The reason for this is that I don’t get to eat out with other people, and Lugang gives this air of a for-groups-only type of dining place. Not to mention that it’s gonna be expensive for me if I bring in just one or two people with me, as if anyone would want to dine with me in the first place.

On the other hand, an eat-all-you-can promo is an eat-all-you-can promo, and a one-man battle like this is what I love to do.

The dishes in Lugang’s eat-all-you-can menu is just about the same as the regular menu, so it gives you a preview of what to expect when you bring your family, your girlfriend, your boss etc. out for some fine Chinese cuisine.

The first wave of my raid featured a big platter of tofu with preserved egg, pork xiao long bao, a bowl of golden fried rice with shredded pork, velvet chicken and sweet corn soup, and a tall glass of aloe honey lemon juice.

The xiao long bao packs a lot of flavor in its thin skin. The soup’s not that warm, though. The chilled tofu was very filling on its own since it’s a large serving, so I guess on a normal dinner this should be shared. The soup and fried rice actually taste, well, normal.

Round Two had Taiwanese omelette with preserved turnip bits, boiled pork dumplings with its own dipping sauce, and steamed crab roe and pork xiao long bao.

The dipping sauce tasted like red wine. The steamed crab roe was the best dumpling variety I’ve ever tried, with its light and curiously seafoody flavor blended in the fillings and soup. The great thing about Lugang is that it serves different variations of xiao long bao, and there’s a lot to choose from. Xiao long bao lovers will have to compare Lugang’s varieties with those from other restaurants.

For Round Three, there’s steamed angled loofah (that’s patola for you) with shrimp xiao long bao, pork wontons in spicy chili oil, and black pepper beef fried rice.

Next up was a plate of Vietnam egg rolls, a big bowl of Taiwanese pickled cabbage, and steamed kimchi xiao long bao.

At this point I have to admit I made a mistake. Those cabbages overloaded my taste buds, and along with it, my stomach. Halfway through this course, I realized my body has malfunctioned and would not accept anymore food. Onore, Taiwanese cabbage.

But I had to press on. The eat-all-you-can promo allowed you to choose a Lugang house specialty: roasting, chicken, pork, beef, seafood, vegetables, or noodles. And choose I just did.

The final round had me going face to face with a plate of chicken topped with scallion and ginger oil, pork spareribs and turnip soup, and a bowl of plain rice.

The chicken was the proverbial cherry on the cake – gingery, flaky, crumbles in the palate well in all its steamed-like glory. It was worthy of being called a house specialty, all right.

Challenging all those dishes was worth risking my budget and intestinal fortitude. I’ve basically eaten my fill of great Chinese cuisine, and it was exactly what a heavy eater like me would ask for. I’ll definitely have a hard time deciding what to eat there the next time in a regular meal, though, but that will have to wait. Now if they bring back that eat-all-you-can promo…

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Lugang Cafe

GREENHILLS :
115 Connecticut Street, North East Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila
Tel. Nos. : +63 (2) 542 – 0196 / +(63) 917 6992254
Seating Capacity : 300 PAX

SM MALL OF ASIA :
G/F 136-137 Main Mall South Wing, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Tel. Nos. : +63 (2) 555 – 0219 / +(63) 916 2140822
Seating Capacity : 220 PAX

THE BLOCK, SM NORTH EDSA :
2/F The Block SM North Edsa, Pag-asa 1, Quezon City
Tel. Nos. : +63 (2) 332 – 8725 / +(63) 915 7469693
Seating Capacity : 130 PAX

SM AURA PREMIER (OPENING SEPTEMBER 2013) :
Skypark, Level 5, SM Aura Premier, 26th Street corner Mckinley Parkway, Taguig City
Mobile No. : +(63) 906 4555873

GLORIETTA 2 (OPENING OCTOBER 2013) :
Glorietta 2, G/F, The New Ayala Center, Makati City
Mobile No. : +(63) 906 4555879

For more information, visit:
http://www.lugangcafe.com.ph

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