Posts Tagged ‘Leong’s Legend’

Dumplings Legend

Happy Year of the Rabbit!  (Of course, I keep thinking that Rabbits get a bum deal for having *just* missed being a Dragon – which everyone knows is much cooler).

By coincidence, LondonEater also blogged today about Dumplings Legend, the latest Chinatown offering from the Leong’s Legend people.  And I completely agree with him that DL is aiming to be the Din Tai Fung of London.  Having recently visited the original Din Tai Fung in Taipei, I can say that  Dumplings Legend certainly looks the part, from the white-chef-hatted cooks assembling the xiao long bao in the window down to the xiao long bao-headed cartoon character.

I’d gone to Dumplings Legend hoping it was a dumpling house.  The sort of place that specializes in all that is beautiful in the world of filled dough, from baozi to jiao zi to xiao long bao.  Instead, it’s a place that serves several types of xiao long bao and then offers a long menu of totally random and generic “Chinese” dishes.

pork and crab xiao long bao at Dumplings Legend (£6.50)

It sounds like LondonEater had dim sum at DL, whereas I was there recently for dinner.  That said, we both ordered the star attraction at Dumplings Legend:  the xiao long bao.

The XLB we ordered were visually unattractive, but at least they were super soupy.  They were no better than what you’d get at Leong’s, though, so considering the rest of our experience at Dumplings Legend, I’d return to Leong’s.  (Note that even at Leong’s the quality of XLB has gone downhill over the years.  Click here to see how gorgeous the XLB used to be there, way back in August 2008.  It as if the more XLB are offered in London, the worse their quality becomes.  That makes no sense, until you figure most of the XLB seem to be offered by restaurants that share the same ownership as Leong’s.  A mere facade of competition).

steamed crab and sticky rice (£16.50)

In any even, while the XLB tasted alright, I wouldn’t stray too far from the dumpling offerings at DL.  The space is large and sits on Gerrard Street, so I reckon it’s a commercial necessity to appeal to the many diners who are randomly picking a place to eat in Chinatown.  Which means it’s not surprising the rest of the food is pretty mediocre.  The menu blurb at Dumplings Legend talks up the seafood offerings, so we gave the steamed crab a go.  And while the crab was large, the meat was a bit tough and not very sweet.  And the sticky rice pretty dry, failing to absorb any delicious crab flavors.

sweet and sour spare ribs (£7.50)

I had hoped that sweet-and-sour spare ribs might be the real deal, but instead it was just cloying orange sauce poured over tough bits of fried spare ribs.  Classic Gerrard Street fare.

Service, while rushed, was fine up until the end of our meal, when the waitress dumped vinegar and soy sauce all over my shirt while clearing our table.  She tried to wipe at it (always dab, people!  dab!), and when I asked her to just give me napkins so I could dab myself, she disappeared and was replaced seconds later by another server who just handed us the bill.  You could only laugh, really.  We paid the bill, and while Jon was using the gents’ upstairs, another server swooped in to change the table cloths while I was still sitting there.  It’s not like there was a queue of people waiting to sit down, either.

So, for food and service, thumbs down.  For xiao long bao, Dumplings Legend was fine, but for the same quality of XLB, just go around the corner to Leong’s Legend.  They offer better food, generally, and the service is better.

Dumplings Legend, 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE; 0207 494 1200; Nearest Tube station:  Leicester Square.

Dumplings' Legend on Urbanspoon

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Happy new year! Eight days late, I know.

I had a fantabulous trip back to the U.S., full of family, old friends and good food. I hope you and yours had a happy holidays, too.

Now I’m back in cold, foggy London. My gym is packed to the gills. Accumulated email at work is driving me nuts. So it’s definitely January, and I thought I’d kick off 2009 with a quick look back at 2008 with my five favourite London restaurants last year.

In choosing the restaurants for this highly-esteemed list, I considered only the places I visited at least every two months in 2008, or in the cases where it’d be cost prohibitive to drop by that often, restaurants that served me a meal so good in 2008 (and with service and decor so nice) that I think constantly of returning. [For the complete list of London restaurants I’ve blogged about, check out the London Restaurant Reviews page of my blog.]

In alphabetical order:

  • Barrafina Everything I ate at Barrafina last year was a hit. The main deterrent to my going more regularly is the prospect of having to queue to get a coveted bar stool. But the tapas at Barrafina is so head-and-shoulders above that of its closest competitors, Tierra Brindisa, Tapas Brindisa and Moro, that if time’s not an issue, it’s Barrafina for me.

    54 Frith Street, W1D 4SL, 0207 813 8016; Closest tube station: Leicester Square

  • Mangal Ocakbasi – This Turkish grill is worth the schlepp to Dalston. At least five times last year, Jon and I found ourselves gobbling down the mixed grill there. The kofte and lamb chops particularly rock my world. Although it’s annoying (especially in cold weather) to get jammed up in the entryway because of Mangal’s popularity, one look at that massive indoor grill and hood, and you know it’s worth the crush and wait. The meats here are always cheap and always good.

    10 Arcola Street, E8 2DJ; 020 7275 8981; closest tube station: Highbury & Islington, I guess, but Dalston Kingsland Overland is by far the closest mass transit point if the Overland is at all handy for you

Of course, it was tough for me to keep my list to five, which I guess is why making lists can be valuable. Pearl Liang, Hakkasan, Le Cafe Anglais, Tayyabs, Tomoe and the Marquess, for example, were places where my money and time were consistently well spent in 2008 (and 2007 and 2006 . . . ). But even listing them in this paragraph is cheating on this concept of my top 5.

Now, looking forward to 2009, I’m following in the footsteps of my fellow bloggers and listing the places I’d love to visit during this coming year. Right now, Galvin Bistro de Luxe, The Square, Chez Bruce, and a return to Murano to try out the dinner menu are in the cards. Maybe a trip to Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road thanks to Intoxicating Prose’s rave review in November 2008. (I was so disappointed by my Fat Duck visit in April 2006 that since then I’ve been wary of 3-star Michelin experiences – and expenses – in London).

In any event, here’s to Jon and my staying employed so we can keep on eating and traveling in 2009 . . . .

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Leong's Legend, 4 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AX

Leong's Legend, 4 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AX

If I were a fan of bumper stickers (and if I had a car – and a valid driver’s license), I’d get one that reads: “I brake for xiao long bao.”

Two weeks ago, Tasty Treats in her alter ego form, TimeOut London restaurant reviewer, highlighted Leong’s Legend in Chinatown as a place that served not only Taiwanese food, but also xiao long bao (a Shanghai specialty). So, it was inevitable that I’d try it out asap. And I liked Leong’s so much the first time, I went back again a few days later with friends in order to maximize sampling of dishes.

crab xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Leong's Legend

crab xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Leong's Legend

First, let’s talk about the fragrant, soupy crab xiao long bao. The skin’s good – thin and almost translucent, but still firm enough to hold all that soup in while you tweezer the dumpling into your soup spoon. The filling is also good – as good as it gets in London, anyway (still a little bit too light and fluffy, like all xiao long bao I’ve tried in London). Lots of hot, delicious soup. Key. And you get eight for £6. A steal. Cheaper even than at Pearl Liang.

Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Leong's Legend

Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Leong's Legend

Now, even though I’ve been to Taiwan six or seven times, I couldn’t tell you what makes Taiwanese food distinct from other types of Chinese food. But one thing that’s hugely popular in Taiwan is beef noodle soup (nio ro mien). And the version at Leong’s Legend is pretty tasty. You get a massive bowl of fragrant, slightly-spicy beef broth and tons of fatty, tender beef for £4.50. Much better than the over-tendoned small portions sold at Cha Cha Moon. I’m almost looking forward to the dark, rainy days of winter, just so I can run over to Leong’s and warm myself up with their nio ro mien.

Chili garlic crab at Leong's Legend

Chili garlic crab at Leong's Legend

The impressive-looking whole chili crab for £11 deserves a shout out for being quite possibly the best deal in London. Salty, garlicky and spicy on the outside, moist and sweet on the inside, the crab is served in the shell, but it’s already cracked so you don’t need to fuss to get at the crab meat.

Dry-fried beans at Leongs Legend

Dry-fried beans at Leong's Legend

Many of the dishes at Leong’s are meat and seafood, with just a few veg options.  So perhaps not so ideal for vegetarians unless they eat seafood.  Dry-fried beans have proven the best of the veg. The garlic shoots on the menu were tough and fibrous, so I’d avoid those.  And I’m going to go against the tide and say I didn’t enjoy the oyster omelet (owa jiang). Too wet and liquidy for me.

Service has been speedy both times I visited, so that kind of makes up for the no-reservations, queue-up-at-the-door policy.

The food and prices are great, whether you get dim sum at lunch or “regular” dishes at any time of day. I’m sure I’ll be visiting more often going forward.

Leong’s Legend, 4 Macclesfield St, W1D 6AX; 020 7287 0288; closest tube: Leicester Square.
Leong’s Legends on Urbanspoon

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