Last Saturday, my family and I planned to have dinner at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in SM Mall of Asia. However, because the restaurant is situated at the veranda, dining customers have to pay an additional fee (PHp 750-PHp 1500 per person) even if they are not watching the pyromusical competition from 6:30PM onwards. Hence, we resorted to dining in Lugang Café, since we had been wanting to try their food for so long.

Lugang Café is a restaurant under the Bellagio Management Group of Companies based in Shanghai. Today, it’s considered as the best contemporary Taiwanese restaurant in Manila. Aside from Taiwanese food, this stall has been also drawing rave reviews for its healthy mix of Szechuan and Shanghainese cuisine.

Review of Lugang Café (SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City)

Ambiance: ★★★★★

I told my dad recently that there are more and more restaurants nowadays that have sleek and modern interior designs as compared to before when decors were nothing grand and the emphasis was only on food. One of the most eye-catching units in a restaurant must be the ceiling. And that’s exactly where your eyes would wander the moment you step into Lugang Café. Those elegant lights can’t go unnoticed for sure!

Just like in its other branches, Lugang Café in MOA has an ambiance that’s very relaxing and upscale. Judging solely from the design, no one might easily recognize it as a Taiwanese restaurant. The tables and chairs, the counter and even the staircase are arranged neatly. Impressive and captivating are two words that are best used to describe the overall feel of the place.

Service: ★★★★★

Lugang Café in SM Mall of Asia rarely has a few customers. Despite the busyness of the place, good customer service was maintained throughout our stay. Staffs were knowledgeable on the menu, polite in recommending must-tries and were attentive in requests by guests.

Food: ★★★★☆

Many people are already familiar with bola-bola siopao, meat dumplings or just plain meatball, but not many have tried xiao long bao yet. If you’re one of those who haven’t, please do yourself a favor and try it now! I bet that once you do, you’d be hard-pressed to go back for another order. 🙂

Lugang Café is quite known for its xiao long bao as it comes in different flavors:

  • Steamed Crab Roe and Pork Xiao Long Bao (PHp 288),
  • Steamed Angled Loofah with Shrimp  Xiao Long Bao (PHp 228),
  • Steamed Taro Xiao Long Bao (PHp 228),
  • Steamed Chocolate Xiao Long Bao (PHp 288),
  • Steamed Kimchi and Pork Xiao Long Bao (PHp 268) and
  • Steamed Pork Xiao Long Bao (PHp 248).

Sadly, assorted flavors cannot be taken in one order just like what Paradise Dynasty in Singapore offers. With that said, if you want to try them all, you have to get the eight pieces in the same flavor as a set one by one. And that’s exactly what I’m planning to do, since I’m very intrigued on how they taste. :’> On second thought, this plan might ruin my diet. Oh no. Cannot. I’ll just have to take it slow then. Nobody is pressuring me anyway haha.

Officially, we got one down (five to go in my next visits)! Lugang Café’s Steamed Pork Xiao Long Bao (PHp 248, 8 pieces) or “Soup Dumplings” was made with meat filling swimming in flavorful broth, all wrapped up in perilously thin dumpling skin. In the tonging process, you’ll get a burst of innards full of piping hot soup to warm your soul and a pork ball.

I know it’s difficult to make xiao long bao, seeing the chefs perform live through the transparent glass from outside the restaurant.

Because each piece is so tiny that it can easily fit into the mouth, I suggest swallowing it as a whole. Lugang Cafe’s version of the soup dumplings was delightful. So nice. Like a dream.

The next dishes we had are all safe for pescetarians. Since Lent season is coming up, you might as well take note of these dishes for your own liking.

We especially recommend the Taiwanese Salt and Pepper Squid 台灣椒鹽魷魚 (PHp 290). We love fried calamari of all kinds, so it’s no surprise that this one also became an instant favorite. Seasoned with salt and pepper, the squid chunks were lightly battered. The coating was crispy and the pieces were just tender and not rubbery. The squid, as you can see in the picture below, is not ring type like those typically in Filipino pulutan or pica-pica. Vinegar was served as perfect condiment.

Second dish was the Spicy Garlic Fish in Claypot (PHp 340). The main ingredients included tofu and fish—skin-on, a little wobbly but plenty rich in flavor. The sauce was spicy but not so much intense that it would fire up your taste buds. A pro tip: request for chili sauce if you sense that the taste becomes monotonous.

The Kung Pao Tofu (Vegetarian) (PHp 280) consisted of chunks of crispy tofu that stayed crispy even when they’re soaked in sauce. With lots of chili, this dish was really spicy. Want complexity? Adding black vinegar will improve the flavor.

Finally, we had the House Special: Pineapple and Shrimps Stuffed in Crullers (PHp 290). What is a cruller? A quick search via Google revealed that “a traditional cruller is a fried pastry often made from a rectangle of dough, with a cut made in the middle that allows it to be pulled over and through itself producing twists in the sides of the donut.”

I didn’t appreciate the presence of the crullers in this dish, and I’m not sure if they were there. What’s guaranteed is that the pineapples and shrimps made a good pairing. I’ve learned that these two are normally threaded on skewers and tossed on the grill for a fun luau-inspired dish. With mayonnaise, Lugang Café’s version almost seemed like a hot prawn salad.

Price for Value: ★★★★☆

All in all, Lugang Café is a very solid choice for Taiwanese food! I’ve always had the impression that food prices here are exaggerated. Now I can say that it’s a misconception. Prices of food are decent and reasonable. Food quality is their forte and there’s no issue with anything. Sit in for a meal if you ever get a chance; you won’t regret it. Bring a friend or two since the dishes are good for sharing. 🙂 Have a blast!

Ground Floor, South Wing, Mall of Asia Complex (MOA), Pasay City
For inquiries, call 02 5550219, +63 9162140822
Date Published: 03/19/2014
18 / 20 stars

Other branches:

  • Ground Floor, Glorietta 2, Ayala Center, Glorietta Complex, Makati City | +63 9064555879, 02 4033303
  • Second Floor, The Block, SM City North EDSA, Quezon City | 02 3328725, +63 9157469693
  • 115 Connecticut Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan City | 02 5420196
  • SM Aura Premier, C5 Road Corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City | +63 9064555873


Digital marketing strategist. Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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54 Responses

  1. silaytambayan

    I love the ambiance of the whole place. Nice interior. Must try when i go back to Manila this June. I think i would love the food coz i am a siopao lover!.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The menu is pretty big, and there are definitely some dishes that shine more than others, but if you’re willing to experiment a little, you might find something really special. Ask the staff what customers usually order or go with the house specialties.

  2. Debarpan

    the place is nice,even cooks are taking so much cares.Looks like they really believe in customer satisfaction.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes, I totally agree. All food are good, the kind that takes me home, but to a greasier version of home. The portion sizes will last you for a few meals (if you’re eating by yourself).

  3. Emman

    I’ve been at Lugang Cafe in SM North. The foods and drinks are great and affordable considering the quality of the food and the services. One thing that I didn’t like is the crab in season. It’s a crab with noodles. The price was almost 2k and not worth it.

  4. Kaarunya

    Hey 🙂
    Wow that is a lovely restaurant!
    I totally agree nowadays the design of the restaurants is getting more more elegant!
    I am feeling hungry looking at those soup dumpling :p
    thanq 4 de lovely review 🙂

  5. Mindy

    Such a nice looking place! I am not a fan of Chinese food, however i enjoyed everything i had in Taiwan-much to my surprise, so maybe i actually like Taiwan style foods :D. I also am not one for xiao long bao but my hubby’s crazy about it, too bad that most restaurant locally cannot cook one without bursting the packets!

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah so you have to be careful when you eat a piece of xiao long bao. Inside each of these little angels hides the hot soup that cradles the ball of minced pork. Sometimes it’s too hot that it hurts.

  6. Shine

    I love Chinese food!! and this is a must try! Thanks for the tip. I know where to go on my next foodtrip 🙂

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah but it’s not only Asian restaurants who do it that way. Many other restaurants regardless of the cuisine they offer also prepare natural and fresh ingredients. 🙂

  7. Eloisa

    This post made me so hungry! I love the dishes you ordered. I’m into Chinese food, it’s my fave dish of all time! Thanks for sharing this.
    Btw, the interior of the restau looks fantastic! i love it <3

  8. Gelleesh

    I have always wanted to try Lugang Cafe since I always pass by it in The Block. I’m definitely giving it a try soon. My sister kasi is not the biggest fan of Chinese food (eh I’m always with her in SM North). She prefers Japanese or fastfood. Uggh. xD


    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Tell her to try other food sometimes. Preferring Japanese or fast food does not always has to mean she’s stuck on eating only those food forever. 😛

  9. Maya

    I love the interior of this place! Those lamps are so cute. And the food looks yummy, especially those dumplings. Love how many fish options they have 🙂

  10. Algene

    The interior of the place reminds me of Vikings in SM Lanang 🙂 I love the ambiance and I’m sure it’s a must-visit in MOA.

  11. andy

    Wow..the place looks like it does not exist here in the Philippines. I’d love to try the crab roe!!! sinful! hehehhe

  12. Mommy Levy

    I want to try the Taiwanese Salt and Pepper Squid when I have the chance to visit Lugang Cafe at SM MOA. It looks delicious 🙂

  13. Addie

    Hi. Each dish you say is good for sharing? Even for a group of 5? On a budget here. ^^


    Good article btw 🙂


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