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The Best Xiao Long Bao in my Backyard

Awaits behind giant wooden doors.

Xiao Long Bao (pronounced ‘siaw long pao’) is one of my all-time favorite Chinese food. Who can resist a pudgy little ball containing a meatball and warm soup? And all this goodness within a circular, delicate skin of flour, pinched at the top to make pretty ripples. It’s comfort in a steaming bite.

My benchmark for this dish is at the famous Din Tai Fung. But that’s another story.

After tasting around the hometown, I’ve found the one place that hits the spot.

Lugang’s xiao long bao can be described as having a slightly rich, clear broth + tasty pork ball + just the right kind of thin, smooth, tender, slightly chewy, and translucent wrapper. I’m particular when it comes to the wrapper, because when it’s too thick, it doesn’t contrast much with the other textures in the dish = mushy/chunky blech. The family and I also tried their version with minced crab meat and roe, which was also delicious.

I’ve been here only three times, and thus far, Lugang’s other dishes have been pretty good as well. After finishing our soupy appetizers, we had their Chicken Topped with Scallion and Ginger Oil + steaming bowl of rice.

It’s like Hainanese chicken, but with a non-spicy kick. The finely minced ginger and scallion gave a nice flavor to the oil, which complemented the chicken in a light, edgy (??) way. We doggy-bagged the remaning oil/scallion/ginger because thou shalt not waste good food. (especially when it can easily be added to boiled chicken for a –voila!–super easy emergency food at home)

Below is the cua bao (fluffy white steamed bun with pork + cu cai (bitter vegetables?) + scallions + hot sauce. Not bad either. This single serving was shared by the four of us, because my dad enjoys the whole hating kapatid kind of thing.

Since the last time I went, I’d been wanting to try Lugang’s Soft Tofu and Mushrooms in Abalone Sauce. The presentation of this dish was pretty: steam rising when the lid is removed, and a most curious shape (according to dad). Removing a slice of soft tofu reveals a bed of mushrooms with white onion (which was sweet, so yay) and more sauce. Everyone liked it, because it was melty (soft tofu), flavorful, and just delicious. (obv. running out of adjectives)

There were so many desserts I wanted to try, we chose the Steamed Taro Xiao Long bao because we I’m a sucker for this kind of dessert. The ultimate dumpling dessert I’ve had was the taro Xiao Long bao with melty dark chocolate filling (UGH) at Din Tai Fung. Lugang’s sweet dumpling was creamy, and altogether a perfect way to end a good meal.

Lugang has a separate menu full of tempting pictures of dessert and drinks. Several of these I hope to try in the future such as:

The Peanut Smoothie. Which I had at Bellagio in Shanghai. I wonder if this is just like it.

This has a really weird name (WTF is a Jolalin sponge), and I usually like my papayas only served with a spritz of calamansi (or nothing at all, if it’s a good one). But I’m a huge fan of coconut milk. Though not the usual combination, it seems like it could taste good.

MANGO PUDDING. Well, sago pudding. I love sago. I love it so much I could even write a poem about squishy little tapioca balls. I don’t know if embedding these in pudding make them less fun (wtf) but it’s worth trying once.

Fruity drinks and even more sago! They also had several milk teas (melon milk tea as well) which I will try some time in the future.

Other than the food, we had a pleasant server, and the food did not take long. Good food + good service = I shall return. Until the next time, Lugang. Keep it up.

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