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Our 1st Meal of 2010 @ Leong's Legend [Restaurant Review]

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

Happy new year! I hope everybody made a suitably auspicious and self-improving resolution to forget about by next month. Anyway we dropped off sis-in-law at Heathrow Airport this morning for her flight on New Year’s Day (yay, one less pet to feed) and thought we’ll drop by town for lunch. We were really craving for Japanese (probably more “I” than “we”) but unfortunately, none of the places I wanted to try were open.

So in the end we decided to try out Leong’s Legends, a Chinatown restaurant we’ve been meaning to sample for near a year now but never got around to actually setting foot inside. The PigPig was particularly keen on Leong’s as they had a variety of Taiwanese dishes she gets shown repeatedly on Taiwanese drama shows.

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Inside, the décor was suggestive of the old-school dim sum rest houses in the period Chinese shows and I kept having an eye out for a brawl to kick off. I quite liked that bit, but the newer Christmas decorations didn’t really merge well with the underlying theme.

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Well anyway we were freezing out, so we both ordered a hot soya milk drink. I was really surprised by the lack of sweetening, but the PigPig says she thinks this is normal outside of Malaysia (explains the high diabetic rate). I ended up having to add in a sachet of sugar just to make it more palatable for me.

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We were starving so when the lu rou fan (鲁肉饭) braised pork with rice came out, I was drooling with anticipation at the sight of the dish. The fatty pork was very juicy and tasty but I felt it could have been cooked longer to make it even more tender. Also, a minor complaint but the rice felt… different somehow.

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After that was the xiao long bao (小籠包) - Shanghai steamed soup dumplings, the dish I was looking forward to the most. Basically, the main reason why I know of Leong’s was because my aunt said it had the best xiao long bau in town (her exact words were to “just go there for the xiao long bau, ignore the other food”, but I thought that was a bit extreme). Anyway one bamboo basket contain eight little beauties, all huddled together for warmth and protection. Unfortunately, they were clumped a bit too close together and I sometimes broke a neighbour’s skin while trying to extract my target, which was a shame as the soup contained within was really delicious and slurp-worthy. The pastry also was nice and thin unlike some truly fat horrors I’ve had before. Another little thing I liked was the little dish of vinegar was deeper than the usual soya sauce plate, making it easier to scoop some vinegar and ginger into the spoon.

EDIT (20/05/2010): After having eaten XLBs in Din Tai Fung (Taipei + KL), I now appreciate that the skin here in Leong's is actually on the thick side. Still pretty tasty though.

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The oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) was just immensely huge and we were taken aback by its size. It was different to the ones I usually eat in Malaysia, the egg being runnier and less starchy which I enjoyed, but there seemed less aroma and complexity in this version. It could have also used more oysters. I would highly recommend to avoid this dish unless you have a bigger party as it is just too filling and we missed out on ordering other dishes.

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The carnivore in me insisted on ordering the steamed meatball with salted egg yolks, but by the time it arrived after the oyster omelette, we just couldn’t stomach the meat. And make no mistake, it is purely a blob of mince meat, albeit seasoned appropriately. I had eaten something similar in my youth with white porridge and found eating this dish a bit difficult without either some rice or porridge to go with it. We ended up nibbling at it then taking the rest away.

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Lastly for the sweet-tooth PigPig, the egg tarts with bird’s nest. The egg tarts themselves were very good, excellent pastry with creamy egg custard. I felt that the bird’s nest was completely wasted though (for people not used to Chinese food, bird’s nest is made from the saliva of cave swifts).

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Altogether, the bill came up £16 each and we were absolutely stuffed. Service was fairly standard for most standard Chinese restaurants, i.e. pretty perfunctory and it can be hard to get their attention sometimes.

Food – 5.0
Service – 4.0
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 7.0

Well actually, I think my aunt may have been more accurate than I gave her credit for; the xiao long bau were probably the best I’ve had in recent years (including the ones I had in Yu Yuan, Shanghai, although I’ve heard Taipei does it better) but the other dishes were a bit so-so. On the other hand, for our first meal of 2010, this wasn’t half bad and its certainly not a bad way to start.

Would I eat here again? I’m already planning to try the crab xiao long bau next time, as well as the pork mini-kebab.

PS. After writing this, I got nosy and had a peek at Helen’s and The Epicurean’s reviews who both essentially highly recommend the xiao long bao and to stay away from the traditional Cantonese dim sum.

Leong's Legend
4 Macclesfield St
City of Westminster,
Tel:+44 (0)207287028

Leong’s Legends on Urbanspoon

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