Lugang Cafe coming soon to QC, BGC
|Lugang Cafe's three-story restaurant along Connecticut Street. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
MANILA, Philippines – Following its successful restaurants along Connecticut Street in Greenhills and at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, Taiwanese restaurant Lugang Café is set to open two more branches in the coming months.
Lugang Café’s third branch is located at The Block at SM North EDSA in Quezon City, right beside the mall’s spacious Forever 21 store. It will be open to the public next month, said Katrina Chua, Lugang Café’s dining operations manager.
The other outlet will be put up at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig early next year.
Lugang Café, called Bellagio Café in Shanghai, China, joined the local restaurant scene in 2010 by opening a three-story dining area along Connecticut Street. The place has been attracting large crowds, particularly Chinese families who come for lunch or dinner on weekends.
The restaurant is fast gaining popularity in Manila mainly because of its xiao long bao. Chua claims that Lugang Café sold 4,300 baskets of xiao long bao last month, with each basket containing eight soup dumplings – that’s 34,400 pieces in all.
|Lugang Cafe's xiao long bao. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
Just like in most restaurants, Lugang Café’s xiao long bao is filled with minced pork and jellified stock, which eventually melts and becomes soup. Similar to Din Tai Fung, another popular restaurant, Lugang Café prides itself on its “18 pleats” style of folding the xiao long bao, which owners said can only be done by dumpling masters.
“It’s a lucky number,” one of the chefs said as he quickly prepares another batch of the soup dumplings.
Because its dumplings have been selling so well, Lugang Café has also ventured into the catering business, with chefs bringing in carts where they can create the prized xiao long bao (which also comes in chicken) in front of guests.
Aside from the xiao long bao, Lugang Café has a handful of other specialties, as evident in its extensive menu of dimsum, noodles, roasted meats, drinks and desserts.
For first-timers, Chua recommended Chicken with Scallion and Ginger Oil, which is like a tastier version of the local tinola. Served cold, it tickles the palate and is a good way to start a meal.
|Chicken with Scallion and Ginger Oil. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
There is also the Dong Bo Pork Belly with Steamed Buns, which are pretty much like the cuapao or open-faced siopao; the Black Pepper Beef Ribs, which offers a strong flavor without overpowering the palate; the Mayonnaise Prawns with a hint of wasabi; and the Pumpkin Seafood Rice Souffle, which has egg, fried rice, pumpkin, fish fillet and squid.
|Mayonnaise Prawns. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
For dessert, Chua said Lugang Café’s bestseller is the Bellagio Breeze, a giant tower of shaved ice filled with different beans, tapioca and caramelized fruits which is good for 12 people. For those who do not like ice and beans, there is a whole booklet of other desserts and drinks that they can choose from.
“Our food is a mix of modern and traditional. The interior design of the restaurant is both modern and traditional, too,” said Chua, when asked why she thinks Lugang Café has been attracting a lot of customers.
“We go to China to check new trends, such as lighting and other things,” she added.
While it faces competition from restaurant franchises in Manila such as Crystal Jade and PF Chang’s, Lugang Café is poised to gain a strategic advantage as it taps a large market base of residents and workers in Quezon City and Taguig City in the coming months.
With the success this relatively young restaurant is currently enjoying, it won’t be a surprise if Lugang Café opens a fifth branch before 2013 ends.