Cafe de Lulu
42 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111
No actual dumplings were consumed at this restaurant. Cafe de Lulu, although an old favorite of ours, is not really known for their dumplings and there were a few other dishes that we were eager to try.
Cafe de Lulu is a favorite of the Divas. Our first trip to this venue was last year and we had an amazing meal here. It is located in the basement of a complex that contains several restaurants. A brightly lit neon accentuated sign invites you to go downstairs to enter.
Then, let’s face it, the place looks not that inviting but DO NOT LET THAT SCARE YOU! Overlook the shabby appearance of the restaurant and It will be worth your while, trust me. Cafe de Lulu is a Hong Kong Style cafe that has an enormous menu that is quite overwhelming. It has a very reasonably priced combo option which includes three dishes, white rice and soup for under $25. That makes the menu a bit more manageable so we went with that option and ordered something off the appetizer menu as well.
Many restaurants in Chinatown include complimentary soup when you order their lunch combo. To be quite honest it can look quite unappetizing – a cloudy broth sometimes with a bit of squash or meat floating in it. I can’t speak for every version of this soup but the soup served at Cafe de Lulu really is quite good – a warming savory broth.
The first dish to arrive was the Bean Curd with Spicy Fish Sauce was a bit of a disappointment and completely misnamed as it was neither spicy nor fishy. It was a bland tasting tofu dish that had dried bamboo shoots in it that had the consistency of dry twigs on the point of being inedible. Needless to say we moved on from this one quickly.
One of the dishes we came to Cafe de Lulu for arrived next: Salt and Pepper Squid. We both recalled loving this dish at Lulu’s last year and it was as good as we remembered. The squid was not heavily breaded and was light and crispy seasoned with salt, pepper, and green onions with some jalapenos thrown into the mix.
Last year, we tried the Lamb with Curry which I vaguely recall as mind-blowing. Unfortunately that was unavailable today so we ordered the braised beef brisket version of the dish. I am someone who is crazy about lamb so this did not stand up to my memory of the original version. However the curry sauce on this dish was amazing. It was dark, rich and savory and smothered the braised beef and bright yellow potatoes with it’s deliciousness. As much I missed the lamb I could probably eat an old boot smothered in this sauce, it is that good. It also made up for the fact that the braised brisket, like all briskets got a little fatty.
The final dish we tried was the Baked Chicken with Portuguese Sauce. We chose this particular dish because it came highly recommended in several reviews and the name itself made me quite curious. Portuguese Sauce? In a Chinese restaurant? So we decided to try it. Portuguese Sauce is not actually a Portuguese dish, it actually originated in Macau, a former Portuguese colony, hence the name. It is a VERY mild curry made with coconut milk which is quite popular in Hong Kong cafes. In this instance it was served over a very crispy and delightful breaded chicken cutlet. Initially, after all of the flavorful dishes we had begun with, I was not terribly interested in this dish but I have to say that it grew on me, as I kept going back for more. It provided a delightful counterbalance to the salty, savory dishes we had ordered and I very much enjoyed it.
Cafe de LuLu is a great bargain and serves really delicious food.