Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Leong's Legends, 9th March

Leong's Legends was a bit of a mixed bag. Fortunately, the things I picked out of that bag were great and on that basis I'd go back again. My friend George wasn't so lucky and it was his dishes which were duds.

I heard about Leong's Legends when I sent a plea to secret_london for places in London that do soupy dumplings after I was disappointed with the ones in Beijing Dumpling. So all I was really interested in was how well they did this one dish. And they were far superior to the Beijing ones - these ones actually had a spoonful of porky soup in them, and the dumplings themselves were tasty - light skins, fully filled.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

There was no queue when we arrived and we were asked to wait on the stairs. As was everyone else who came in behind us, keeping the growing queue out of sight from passersby. We watched with a keen eye all the tables which might soon be leaving and we struck gold - we got a booth away from the slurps and chewing noises of other diners! Best table in the house, tucked round a corner at the back.

I knew I was going for the soupy dumplings but they had a variety of dishes which sounded a bit different and for my other dish I chose a ginger chicken soup with rice wine and sesame.

Stephen, rather courageously, ordered the century egg with tofu dish because he'd liked Two Hungry Girls' version so much, and then went for the old staple, braised pork. 

George was also a little adventurous and ordered stuffed dates with honey and then something reliable - an ordinary noodle dish.

The century egg arrived and both George and I said it was a mistake on a plate. A huge cube of tofu surrounded by jellified egg. Stephen didn't even recognise the egg for what it was at first. We demurred trying any until he had. When he attested that it really was nice, I had a bit. And it was! I don't think I could have eaten a whole dish of it on my own, but I did like a few bites of it. It came in a spicy/sweet dressing which was also really, really good.

Most of our food came at about the same time. Stephen's pork was a particularly good version - it had a very deep, sweetish flavour. I only had a bite or so but I would happily have a whole dish of that to myself. Fantastic.

George's noodles didn't look all that much and he didn't think they were amazing either. A bum note for him. But my siu long bao lived up to and exceeded my expectations as I said.

Hard to see but that's a whole spoon of porky broth
We were almost done with these dishes and were beginning to wonder when mine and George's others would arrive - they were the only two we'd ordered that hadn't been on the order form you fill out. We worried they were forgotten, but the waitress just assured us they 'needed time to cook'. 

A good five minutes or so after we'd eaten the rest of the dishes, my soup came out. It was full of ginger strips and pieces of chicken on the bone. Not a good dish for me to order in retrospect as I'm not great at eating chicken on the bone. The flavour of the soup was fragrant and the sort of thing you could eat if you're feeling a little under the weather. It got a little salty for me towards the end but I liked it.

Finally, the stuffed dates arrived. I don't eat dates anyway so I didn't try them but they didn't look great. Sadly, it seems they didn't taste great either (and God knows what they were doing with them that it took so long to make). George and Stephen couldn't figure out what the dates were actually stuffed with. SOme weird gelatinous substance that left a chalky taste in the mouth apparently. We asked and it turned out to be rice! Who knew.

So, for me, and enjoyable meal and I would definitely go back. They had a number of dishes on the menu that I thought sounded intriguing or just tasty. George probably had a completely different experience to me and Stephen and would say the exact opposite. 

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