Dining Out

Lunch at Lugang Cafe

When you’ve been blogging for as long as I have, you must have met more than a few fellow bloggers in person. Two blogger friends from way, waaaayy back are in the country for a vacation. Jay flew in from the United States and Camellia from Japan. It took days to find a schedule convenient for everyone but we managed. When I was asked to recommend a restaurant for the much-anticipated get-together, I chose Lugang Cafe. I’ve been there before when it was still in its original location on Connecticut Street in Greenhills. The food was just lovely and I had no qualms recommending it.

The drive from the suburb to the city was terrible. Traffic was a nightmare. More than a nightmare; it was a horror story. I was texting with Rolly who reached the appointed venue first and I suggested that they go ahead and order. Speedy, Sam and I were half an hour late. The soup was on the table when we took our seats. But, first things first. I’ve met both Jay and Rolly, and laughed at too many of their green jokes, many times in the past but it was the first time I was meeting the lovely Camellia in person. A photo of the two of us was simply on top of the to-do list.

Lunch at Lugang Cafe

So, that’s Camellia on the left, me on the right and the bowl of superb Hot and Sour Soup (ordered upon my recommendation) on the table.

What else did we have at Lugang Cafe?

Lunch at Lugang Cafe

The dish of soy sauce braised pork knuckles was melt-in-the-mouth tender. Sticky, gelatinous and perfectly seasoned. Fantastic!

I passed on the steamed shrimps with garlic because there was another shrimp dish and that was the one I’d rather have. I’ve a long bad history with shrimps and other crustaceans because of a childhood allergy that persisted through my adult life. It was only recently that I started eating shrimps again and, when I do, I do so sparingly.

Lunch at Lugang Cafe

Because duck is my favorite poultry, I feasted on the roast duck. Cooked differently from “Peking Duck” which is often ordered two-or-three-way, roast duck at Lugang Cafe does not have crispy skin. The bird, however, tasted like it had been marinated before roasting because the flavors were deeper and richer. The meat was ultra tender but not all that moist because there was less fat under the skin than what I’m accustomed to.

Lunch at Lugang Cafe

The fried lapu-lapu (grouper) in light soy sauce was perfectly cooked. I don’t know how they score the fish to give it that appearance but I loved how crispy the surface areas were and how moist the flesh underneath.

Lunch at Lugang Cafe

I’m not really sure what the name of the tofu dish in the background is but it was seriously good. My friend Camellia who has lived most of her in Japan and who must enjoy countless tofu dishes there on a regular basis found it good too. In fact, it was the singular dish that she verbally praised.

On the foreground, the Wasabi Mayonnaise Prawns that I couldn’t say no to. Fried tempura style, the prawns were succulent to the last bite.

The bill was a little under PHP5,800.00 (about US$117.00 at today’s exchange rate).

Before leaving Lugang Cafe, we had group photos.

Lunch at Lugang Cafe

That’s Speedy, me, Camellia, Rolly and Jay. Sam took the photo.

From Lugang Cafe, we regrouped at St. Marc Cafe for coffee and dessert. A cafe and bakery chain born in Tokyo, Japan, St. Marc has branches in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Dessert at St. Marc Cafe

Although the Chococro (chocolate-filled croissant) is its most well-known offering, I chose the parfait called Choco Berry Celebration. What an explosion of flavors and textures! There was jelly (with the texture of panna cotta), ice cream, chunks of cake, bits of strawberry and barquillos (wafer roll) on top and, underneath, crispy things that may be corn flakes swimming in chocolate syrup. If the strawberry bits weren’t still frozen, it would have been perfect.

Lunch and dessert took over three hours and I wasn’t even aware we had been talking and laughing for that long. Time just flies when you’re having fun. We reminisced about the early years of blogs and about a blogger who posted comments in his own blog under different names to make it appear that he had a lot of readers. The original professional troll, I suppose, and he trolled himself. We talked about how Facebook has caused the demise of a lot of blogs. And, of course, we swapped Duterte and Trump jokes. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we’re planning on another get-together soon.

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