"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


It’s been several months since I’ve been for Dim Sum. Even when HS jets in from LA (cool) we’re more likely to cook up a large lump of protein than go for steamed dumplings.

Truth be told the Dim Sum options in London are not great. We’ve long grown out of the Chinatown places that serve up identikit, bought-in stuff, that’s cheap but ultimately quite dull. Even moving up to the middle range places the quality isn’t great or that consistent. You have to trade up to the Hakkasan’s or Min Jiang’s to get stuff that’s properly i.e. freshly made.

Leong’s Legend is a Chinatown-based chain of Taiwanese restaurants that’s recently opened a new outpost in Queensway. HS visited one of the previous branches and found it sorely lacking. Since it’s now a chain one wouldn’t reasonably expect things to improve as the concept is rolled out, and as I found on my visit, they haven’t.

I’d eschewed some of the regular dim sum in favour of Taiwanese specialities and the Xiaolongbao, apparently a speciality here. I’m pretty sure I’d read on the menu somewhere that all the dishes were freshly prepared but the dough sticks that turned up first had toughness that spoke of Saturday night rather than Sunday morning.

We’ve noticed that when most of the dishes turn up at once then you’re in for a poor dim sum experience. Unfortunately, that’s what happened at Leong’s – seemingly minutes after ticking the boxes on the menu my table was filled with everything I had ordered.

The XLB – sampled first while they were hot – were very disappointing: thick skinned and lacking in enough of the soup that makes them so enjoyable to eat. Even the filling was dull. Once they’d gone cold they lost what little attraction they’d had. Crispy Shredded Turnip were oily and yawn-inducing and a Steamed Meat Ball in a fluorescent sauce very nasty indeed.

I’d overlooked the picture of Casket; which turned out to be a box made out of Fried Bread and filled with a mixture of chicken and diced veg in a gloopy white sauce. I suspect it must be a sort of guilty pleasure thing for Taiwanese everywhere because it didn’t have any obvious culinary merits although after eight pints of strong lager it might have its attractions.

At least there were a couple of dishes that did reach the heady levels of ok. A speciality of Mini Kebab with Pork was a small cube of belly in a bun. It was clumsily constructed and lacked filler but with a nice relish it didn’t taste too bad.

A sort of hamburger in a dough case wasn’t subtle but I enjoyed it as I do most pieces of meat fashioned into a burger shape.

I think the waitress really wanted me to enjoy my meal – even if the kitchen had other ideas - so I ate as much as I could and got the substantial remains bagged up, which seemed to keep her happy. Which is more than you can say for me.

Oh well, back to unfeasibly large pieces of meat stuffed in the oven.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


if it was so bad why bag up the remains, don't you like your dog?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 7:33:00 am  
Blogger sunfug said...

As a Hong Kong-native I beg to differ. London has some top-rate Dim Sum. In my opinion Royal China Bayswater is consistently good and Dragon Castle in out-of-the-way Elephant also excellent (though it has slipped a little). Both serve dim sum that is fresh as can be.

The (happy) fact is that Dim Sum is hugely popular in London now. Years ago the Dim Sum really sucked. The plethora of places now serving average fare reflects the situation in HK where it is also terribly easy to get a stodgey xialungbao or an MSG-drenched har gao.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 1:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Jannie said...

As a native Taiwanese living abroad, Leong's Legends is Taiwanese only in marketing hype. I went to the original location when I was in London this past winter. It, if you will pardon the vernacular, sucked. It had absolutely no relationship to any of the food I eat when I'm at home. Please do not judge Taiwanses food by the rot that they serve there.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 7:35:00 pm  
Blogger Grumbling Gourmet said...

Damn it... that was my weekend plan. Guess I need to rethink. I really fancied some dim sum too!

Back to the drawing board, thanks for the photos, you've just saved me a few quid!


Wednesday, June 09, 2010 10:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree - the increase in dim sum places hasn't engendered greater quality.

royal china's are no longer what they were and i'd also question whether hakkasan's dim sum is top notch - i've had some fairly average meals there.

in my view, pearl liang now has the top spot

Thursday, June 10, 2010 8:43:00 am  
Blogger Chris Pople said...

"You have to trade up to the Hakkasan’s or Min Jiang’s to get stuff that’s properly i.e. freshly made."

Not always the case. You should try the Peninsula in Greenwich, Dragon Castle on Walworth Road, or Hong Kong City in New Cross. All an absolute bastard to get to (especially for you), but definitely worth it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010 12:14:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Dragon castle used to be excellent. Went to review it with JR when it first opened. Subsequent visits were less impressive, so have not bothered since


Thursday, June 10, 2010 3:07:00 pm  
Anonymous dave said...

Well that's another place I can scratch off my list ...

Thursday, June 10, 2010 11:18:00 pm  
Anonymous London Chow said...

Wasn't quite impressed with Min Jiang the second time round when I was there. Hakkasan was not as good the old Yauatcha in my opinion. The downsize menu at Yauatcha just isn't worth the effort now.

Have you tried the dim sum offering at Pearl Liang at Paddington?

To be honest, I'm not sure whether the 'dim sum' at Leong's Legend is really dim sum (it says Leong's specialties). Dim sum is really Cantonese, isn't it?

With my expectations lowered when I was at Leong's Legends 3, it wasn't all that bad. But I agree that the skin thickness of XLB isn't consistent. The ones that I had were fine.

Saturday, June 12, 2010 10:26:00 pm  
Blogger noodlecapricciosa said...

What the menu describes as a 'casket' is literally called 'tombstone' or 'coffin bread' in Taiwanese - that's the twisted interest in it. Think bread bowl soup for Halloween. (The story behind it was some archaeologists were served the snack and one of them claimed it looked like a tombstone they were digging for...)many locals are quite partial to it though.

Sunday, June 13, 2010 3:37:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of Chinese chums recommend Pearl Liang over in Paddington, have not tried it myself yet as Peninsula is my local.

Peninsula, a short walk from North Greenwich tube does great dim sum imho.

If you ever happen to be down there, there is a terrific place whose name I forget at the great Wing Yip supermarket down in Croydon. Just don't think about it on any asian holiday.

Completely agree about quality of dim sum in chinatown, with the possible exception of Jade Garden.

Friday, August 06, 2010 9:46:00 am  

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