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For the Chinese food addicts out there, I think you’ll be delighted to know that Shanghai-based Bellagio Restaurant is now in Manila. They changed their name to Lugang Cafe, though, because “Bellagio” is a registered name here in the Philippines.
Lugang Cafe is definitely more modern than the traditional Chinese restaurants out there in terms of ambiance and style. There are tables set for smaller groups, and the servings are also generally smaller, allowing you to try a wider variety of viands if you’re eating in a small group. Finally, there’s a good Chinese restaurant in town that can also serve as a date place.
I was lured to this place by the rumor that their Xiao Long Bao rivals that of Crystal Jade’s.
Douglas actually visited this place a few months before we went there together. He said that their Crab Roe and Pork Xiao Long Bao (P198) is better than their Pork Xiao Long Bao so we got that instead.
I must admit that the structure of their Xiao Long Bao is good—the skin does not get punctured easily, and it has a healthy amount of soup inside. However, the taste of the soup was definitely not better than that of Crystal Jade’s. In my humble opinion, I think the taste was too subtle. Crystal Jade’s Xiao Long Bao has a more definitive, pronounced taste.
I liked the Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shiao Mai (P188) over the previous dimsum order. The first time I saw them, I thought they looked strange—but don’t let looks deceive you. They’re really tasty because the flavor of the shrimp was well pronounced. They also have soup inside, by the way.
I normally don’t like drinks with solid particles in them (jellies, bubbles, etc.). I think they’re a hassle. I didn’t mind the ones on my Cranberry Juice w/ Mango (P130), though, because they were soft and they dissolve easily. Most of their drinks are on the sweeter side, so I got this one because I don’t like sweets :P
As you can see, it was also served on a really tall glass, so I think the P130 price tag was justified.
This was Douglas’ Mango Jelly in Mango and Coconut Milk (P130).
The Taiwanese Stewed Minced Pork (P160) was really tasty, although I must admit you won’t be able to appreciate this without rice because the flavor of the sauce is strong. This isn’t the kind of food for dieters :P
Douglas said that the Stir Fried Beef with Chili Peppers (P280) wasn’t as spicy as the one he tried in Shanghai. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this dish very much because of the unique flavor and the tenderness of the beef.
The Verdict: Lugang Cafe is not really the most authentic Chinese restaurant out there, probably because it’s more designed to be a cafe. However, it’s pretty good in its own right. The cooking style is refined and the food is delicious. I heard they serve the best desserts, although we were too full to try them. If ever you stop by, I’m sure you’ll also be impressed by their extensive menu, food quality and service.
116 Connecticut St.
Northeast Greenhills, San Juan
telephone: 721-9100, 570-9011
With and For Love,
Rina Caparras and Douglas Chong