LU CHI: From Siomai to Shabu-Shabu (OAP)

(This was published in OurAwesomePlanet.com and Mercato Centrale last June 20, 2013)

It all began when Luchi Dimatulac’s brother requested her to make some homemade chicken feet. Since she used to work in a Chinese restaurant, she thought of asking the chef how to make it. What she got was a recipe for siomai, which was an easier option according to the chef.

At home, she experimented with the recipe using one kilo of pork and let her family and friends sample some. Her taste test actually garnered some orders from her friends and that is where her “accidental business” started.

“We didn’t plan for a Chinese food business,” shares Luchi, who is also a nutritionist. Although she was working in a restaurant and her parents were in the food industry as well, having her own food stall was not part of her master plan. But fate brought her to that path when she learned making siomai, chicken feet, and other types of dimsum.

Her first foray into the food business was as a supplier of a siomai stall. She and her partner, Mario Angeles, eventually thought of putting their own stall and joined bazaars to test out the market. Thus, the birth of Lu Chi, which roughly translates to “happy eating” in Chinese.

They offer their specialty siomai for only P50 per order of four pieces. Each piece is not your average small-sized siomai. It’s one big bite of pure pork goodness, which uses 100% natural meat, no extenders, no preservatives and no MSG. It’s a chunky kind of siomai where the meat is chopped and not ground.

“Our meat is fresh and of high quality. We use the round part of the pigue—choice cuts.” Those who have tasted Luchi’s siomai would know the difference. I have eaten different kinds from various restaurants and this is way better than some. Even my hubby, a self-proclaimed siomai connoisseur, enjoyed each meaty bite of his favorite dimsum.

Aside from dimsum, dumplings, and sushi, Luchi also serves a mean shabu-shabu, which includes imported balls from Taiwan. Each serving costs P160 and comes with six kinds of balls like lobster. In the Mercato markets, a lot of Koreans patronize this dish. Customers say that it is comparable to the shabu-shabu in other Asian countries.

Who would have thought that this “accidental” home-based business would grow into a full-blown food business? From a mere capital of P1000, Luchi now has kiosks in various supermarkets and weekend markets around the metro. Now you know where to chow down on affordable and delicious Chinese dimsum and dumplings.