OUR family’s endless love affair with the delectable Xiao Long Bao began in 2010. My Manila-based relatives would thoughtfully bring us to Lugang Café’s first branch along Connecticut Street in Greenhills whenever we were in town.
The contemporary Taiwanese restaurant was constantly packed with diners, and long queues were the usual sight. Who would not wait patiently for an enticing taste of the heavenly steamed pork dumplings that had both filling and broth? It was a novel experience to gently pick up the delicate dumplings with our chopsticks and transferring them to a soup spoon. Along with some dipping sauce, we bit the Xiao Long Bao’s top off and slowly sucked the hot broth, yearning to devour the rest.
One dumpling was never enough. Each of us could top off at least six pieces in one sitting!
Love at first bite
Lugang Café is a member of the Bellagio Group of Restaurants of Shanghai and is more popularly known in China as Bellagio Café. They currently have seventy-nine stores in China, one in Macau, and another in Thailand.
The owners, Peter and Annabelle Chua of HTCG Premium Food Concepts Inc., first got introduced to Lugang Café when they traveled to Shanghai in 2008. They went there to watch the Master’s Tennis Cup tournament and the restaurant was highly recommended by a friend. It was love at first bite and, as they say, the rest is gastronomic history. In November 2010, Lugang Café opened its first branch in Metro Manila.
Through the years, Lugang Cafe has consistently followed the pure essence of Taiwanese cuisine in their mouthwatering dishes with natural ingredients imported from China. This earned the restaurant the prestigious distinction of being in the list of Philippine Tatler's 100 Best Restaurant Awards.
Other successful brands under the HTCG group include Tuantuan Chinese Brasserie, The Dessert Kitchen, and the latest, Xiu Fine Cantonese Dining, which is situated at the former Lugang Café in Greenhills.
First Lugang Café outside Manila
Just like the Chuas, Wilson and Jenny Bangayan absolutely love good food.
In fact, the enterprising couple belongs to a close-knit group called Wednesday Club which is composed of fellow foodie friends who regularly bond mid-week to enjoy eating together.
“Whenever we travel, we always looked for good food that we can bring to our hometown, Davao City. It’s our way of sharing a slice of the world to our loved ones back home,” shared Wilson.
Their desire to let Dabawenyos have a taste of some of the best cuisines and food resulted in franchises of Red Ribbon, Yakimix, and the newest store, Lugang Café at the SM City Davao which officially opened Wednesday, January 23, 2019. The Davao branch is the first franchise of Lugang Café-Philippines; the first one to open outside Manila; and the eighth outlet under the brand. “We believe that Davao is ready for authentic Taiwanese cuisine”, declared Wilson.
Aside from the famous Xiao Long Bao, guests can feast on the restaurant’s best-sellers such as the scrumptious Three Cup Chicken, Fish Head Steamed with Pickled Pepper, Stir-Fried Beef with Chili Peppers, Spare Ribs with Plum Sauce, Pineapple Fried Rice, and a whole lot more. Wilson said that Lugang Café’s dishes are characterized by their sweet and spicy flavors.
“They also have the subtle tastes of basil, chili, and ginger that are distinct in traditional Taiwanese dishes,” he added.
Always leave room for dessert as their towering Bellagio Breeze and refreshing Peanut Smoothie must not be missed.
Lugang Café is located at the ground floor of SM Ecoland Annex, Quimpo Boulevard, Ecoland, Matina, Davao City, Philippines. It is open from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until 9:00 p.m. for the rest of the week. You may contact them through their phone number 09563066509 for Globe subscribers and 09338195820 for Sun subscribers.
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