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Our Love Affair with Taiwanese Food Continues...Leong's Legend III

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

Warning: we were invited to review this restaurant and the entire meal was paid for by the house. The following below is our independent view, but you have been warned.

Our first meal of the year was at Leong’s Legend in Chinatown, London and we left happy and satisfied if not particularly bowled over. Yet, when an opportunity to sample the food again at the new branch in Queensway arrived in our inbox, we were eager to not only eat more xiao long bao (Shanghainese steamed buns), but also to try out other dishes.

Located in prime position opposite Bayswater tube station and just next to Four Seasons, Leong’s Legend III opened a couple of weeks ago and was in prime position to catch the crowd of hungry passer bys, especially with the high density of South East Asian students living around the area. At 7pm, the uniquely styled interior aimed to resemble a restaurant in olden China (like in the old kung-fu movies!) was already filled with people happily chomping and chatting away.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 13

Having already eaten here once before, we knew what to expect – a mixture of Taiwanese food along with some Sichuan and Cantonese staples served in a slightly weird mix of dim sum, Taiwanese small dishes (xiao chi), various meat and vegetable dishes to share as well as some rice and noodle type things. Thankfully, we had recently spent a week in Taipei and while I wouldn’t call us experts in Taiwanese food, at the very least we’ve been exposed to (a lot of) the local fare.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 01

The first lot of dishes, we let the restaurant choose for us (I only specified that I didn’t want to eat the oyster omelette as the Taiwanese style is very different from the Malaysian type I’m used to). Dishes described in order of them arriving on the table.

Tofu topped with pork floss, served with century eggs. I was slightly taken aback that this was a dish chosen by the house to impress us as although it is a common enough side dish in Taiwan, it is usually hardly spectacular. Oh how mistaken were we as the additions of the pork floss as well as the sweet and spicy sauce at the bottom made this dish far more interesting. Even the PigPig liked it and she hates tofu. The light tofu also made a nice foil to the rich preserved eggs, although I found the eggs to be on the rubbery side. Bizarrely, I can’t find this on the menu!

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 03

“Sticky Rice with Shredded Pork” 筒仔米糕. Pretty much exactly what it says, the mound of glutinous rice was topped with some really tasty thin strips of pork, the flavour helped in no small part by the dried shrimp. The slightly sweet chilli sauce (not spicy at all) at the bottom added some extra taste too. Overall really tasty.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 04

“Casket (Minced Chicken & Mix Vegetables in a Crispy Box Shape of Toast)” 官财板. Apparently a regional speciality of Tainan in Taiwan, the restaurant was quick to point out this is a popular dish. Essentially, it was a chicken pie but using deep fried bread instead of the usual puff pastry. Still, it was pretty cute despite the macabre name, tasted pretty good and the PigPig liked the thicker than usual filling. More importantly, the bread was really crispy and didn’t feel greasy at all considering it was deep fried.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 05

“Taiwan Mini Kebab with Pork” 虎咬猪. One of the things we missed on our last visit despite hearing so many good things about. Essentially composed of a large-ish slice of braised pork belly, crushed peanuts and preserved vegetables in a Chinese man tau bun. All in all it was a great little thing (better than the one we had at Shida night market in Taipei); the slightly sweet bun and the salty fatty pork is a typical Chinese mix while the peanuts added a slightly different twist. I did find the pork really fatty though as it was about half fat, but some people (the PigPig being one of them) obviously love it that way.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 06

“Legend’s Siu Loung Bao (8 pcs)” 精制小笼包, hereafter referred to as XLB. Most people already consider Leong’s Legend’s XLB to be the best in London, so for me the most important part of this visit was just to verify that the quality has been maintained at this branch. If memory serves me right, they were pretty similar, although this has both its good and bad points. Firstly, they were still really tasty and full of the delicious broth filling. Unfortunately, the skin is quite thick and rough and definitely cannot be compared to Din Tai Fung’s. Still, I was really happy eating them and this is certainly the best I’ve come across so far in London.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 07

“Tainan Steamed Meat Ball” 彰化肉圆. Unfortunately, we didn’t like this in Taiwan and we didn’t like it here. The filling itself is pretty decent, a mix of pork, minced mushrooms, water chestnuts and bamboo but the dumpling skin was quite thick sticky starchy and gooey, which didn’t sit well with us.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 08

After that, we decided to order a couple other things to get a more thorough sample of the menu.

“Hot and Fiery Beef Slices & Beef Tripe” 夫妻肺片. Although more of a Sichuan dish, the PigPig was craving for something spicy at this point. The cold strips of beef and the villi of the tripe in particular soaked up a lot of the sauce while still allowing the taste of the meat to come through (don’t eat this if you don’t like tripe!). Very well seasoned dish.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 09

“Taiwan Spicy Beef Noodle in Soup” 王家牛肉面. Although one of the most famous Taiwanese noodle dishes, we didn’t actually order the beef noodle soup here but they mistakenly delivered it to our table and told us we might as well try it anyway. Frankly, it was a little underwhelming as the beefy soup base was mild for my tastes and I didn’t particularly like the type of noodle used (similar to ramen, but with even less bite and spring). The noodles somehow added a rather "powdery" taste to the broth. The beef was tasty though.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 12

“Fried Noodle with Beef in Sa Cha Sauce” 沙茶牛肉炒面. Continuing on with the PigPig’s love affair with shacha sauce… by this point we were absolutely stuffed so even though the couple of mouthfuls we had tasted great, we couldn’t finish the dish and had to take away the rest. The noodles had a really strong BBQ flavour but the beef felt like it had some tenderiser over it which dulled the flavour a bit. Still, I’m looking forward to this for lunch the next day.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 11

For drinks we had Ice Tiger Coffee and Pearl Milk Tea, both of which were pretty good.

Leong's Legend Bayswater, London 02

Food – 6.0
Service – 5.5
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 7.0

Ok so some of the food here wasn’t as good as some of the things we had in Taiwan, but that’s pretty unfair since in Taiwan we sampled pretty much the best of what was available; similarly the Malaysian food here, while delicious at times, can’t compare to the best at home either. Still, the food here is pretty delicious overall and the menu has a really wide selection of Taiwanese snacks.

Best bit: the XLB, always a favourite of mine.
Worst bit: not being able to try their version of Typhoon Shelter crab, which was the most amazing crabby thing I had in a while.

Thanks again Victoria for the invite!

Leong's Legend III
82 Queensway,
W2 3RL,
Tel: +44 (020)7 221 2280
Official website

Leong's Legend III on Urbanspoon

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