Lugang Cafe Review





 

Lugang Cafe Fried Rice with Sausage and Salt and Pepper Squid

We’re suckers for comfort food, and that’s what we came for when we first visited Lugang Cafe last year. This time, we’re taking note of everything and telling you about it – what we ordered, how was it, and everything else.

Pan-Fried Siopao

Soft and moist. Nothing like the big white buns of Kowloon House that can be too starchy and bland. Anyway, we recommend you eat Lugang Cafe’s Pan-Fried Siopao while they’re still hot.

01

Lugang Cafe Panfried Siopao 01

02

Lugang Cafe Panfried Siopao 02

03

Lugang Cafe Panfried Siopao 03

The meat inside has a subtle flavor, but there’s no complaining. Somehow that flavor has merged with the bun’s moist softness. If you down three of these you immediately get a hint that you’re full. The fried sesame seeds atop each bun, if you notice them in your mouth, provides some crunchiness. You are forgiven if you just wolf each bun down. They’re good.

Salt and Pepper Squid

We’re biased in favor of North Park’s version of Salt and Pepper Squid, but Lugang’s version is more subtle, restrained – but only because it doesn’t come with chili sauce, which is optional, and which we asked for. With chili sauce in the picture, Lugang’s Salt and Pepper Squid is better, to us at least, than that of North Park’s.

Lugang Cafe Salt and Pepper Squid 01

North Park’s has a strong, assertive chili oil blended with spicy vinegar. Lugang’s is more classy (there are days we run out of words), more subtle (you don’t want to just wolf everything down like a twelve year old would, instead, you slow down to enjoy it). You need to taste both versions to taste the difference. We’d like our Lugang Salt and Pepper Squid served with chili sauce. But if you are not into strong flavors, the non-chili sauce default mode is good, too.

Fried Rice with Sausage

This has an even, faintly oily vegetable taste to it, which is good because it doesn’t clash with the sweet and savory flavors of both the Sweet and Sour Squid (see above) and the Stir Fried Beef with Chili (see below).

Lugang Face Fried Rice with Sausage 01

The chorizo sausage, whose slices accent the rice now and again, is ever so slightly sweet, in a meaty sausage sweet way. Like we keep saying, subtle.

Stir Fried Beef with Fried Chili

This dish is constantly being heated, we suspect, because once it gets cold it loses some flavor. We took some home so we’ll find out. Anyway, the beef strands are sweet and I prefer to leave them heated, for that near-burned smell and taste.

01

Lugang Face Stir Fried Beef with Fried Chili 01

02

Lugang Face Stir Fried Beef with Fried Chili 02

With the Fried Rice with Sausage, the beef stands out, and the sweetness of the beef and the different kind of sweetness of the sausage “complement” each other, in an odd but welcome way.

Ice Tea

Lugang Face Iced Tea

A bit too strong for my wife and I’s taste. We diluted it with water and it was fine.

Dessert: Shaved Ice with Mango

Looks insurmountable. One big yellow iceberg of goodness. Tastes like the mango ice cream you ate as a kid. Two people can’t finish this. We didn’t. But if you have a twelve year old with you, this will be gone in a wink.

01

Lugang Cafe Shaved Ice with Mango 01

02

Lugang Cafe Shaved Ice with Mango 02

The clean fruity taste of the iced mango “cleans away” the meaty flavors of what we just ate. Good way to close our dinner.

Ambience

There’s that, I don’t know what else to call it, a modern look which would be modern had it been the 1980s, a look that I like. The background music is some upbeat techno that’s oddly generic but okay.

Lugang Cafe Exterior

We’ve been here other times of the day and of the week and we can’t remember the music – that’s probably how it’s intended: comforting but not worth remembering. The place is strangely family-noisy, but this kind of white noise is comforting. Something you need while you eat, I guess.

Service

We had to sit down outside – there was a waiting line. But as soon as we sat down, the line moved and we moved inside. An attendant immediately asked, “For two”?” a moment after we nodded, she was ushering us to a cleaned up table the next instant. That was quick.

Lugang Cafe Menu

Key waiters and waitresses have radios, so that orders are quickly “punched in” by voice. That means even if you complain that some insect died on your plate, just as the waiter is picking up your dish-for-replacement, an order for the dish has already been dispatched via radio.

Comfort Room

Very clean, quiet, and has that hotel-dimmed ambience.

Lugang Cafe Men's CR

Not too small. Everything within reach.

Pro Tip

Make sure this tiny clipboard (below) is on your table, otherwise your order may not have been logged into their system, which is what happened to our order.

Lugang Cafe Order Clipboard

First time it happened to us, and we’ve eaten here dozens of times. Anyway, the moment one of the waiters notice this, because of their radios, it won’t be long till your order is served. A good, self-correcting system.

Verdict

Strong, assertive flavors in most of the dishes, and appropriately subtle in some. But these flavors are of the Asian sweet and sour kind.

Lugang Cafe Bill

We keep coming back here. Maybe, so will you.

Liked this post? Follow SwirlingOverCoffee on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Author

Irwin Allen Rivera loves his wife's cooking so much he's now twice the man he used to be. His English essay won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature in 2012. His philosophical-horror story appeared in Philippine Speculative Fiction 8 (2013). He was managing editor and lead writer of Sites and Symbols 2 (2005), a coffee-table book about buildings in UP Diliman - his alma mater (BA Philosophy; MA Creative Writing continuing). He worked at the UP Diliman Information Office before shifting to web content writing. His sudden fiction, "Notwithstanding Pigs," initially a Friendster testimonial, appeared in Philippines Graphic (2006) and in Very Short Stories for Harried Readers (2007). He used to write for www.technoodling.net.