We had been to the Asian Legend on Yonge between Sheppard and Finch a few months ago, and enjoyed it, so we thought we would go there again. The whole experience was a considerable disappointment.
The restaurant itself is a far cry from the usual Spadina greasy spoon (or chopstick). Modern, trendy upscale décor, with clientele, and prices, to match.
For dinner, we began with a scallion and shrimp pancake. Very good, but almost impossible to prevent from falling apart (unless grasped firmly with the fingers). This resulted in bits of scallion and shrimp on the small plate, which you were expected to retain for the whole meal.
The wonton soup was also very good although as cool as the decor, but we didn’t have a chance to enjoy it. Almost immediately after serving it, the server reappeared with the first of our main dishes.
These consisted of Dan-Dan noodles, Szechuan spicy beef, and Double-cooked pork with spicy sauce. The Dan-Dan noodles - loads of noodles in a peanut sauce, were enjoyable, but got to be a bit of a drag after a while.
I suppose I am spoiled by the Szechuan spicy beef we usually have at Peter’s Chunking - tender strips of beef, crisp and spicy. What we got was beef strips, some so gristly that they had to be discreetly spit out, in a rather insipid sauce, not even that spicy.
As to the Double cooked pork, I would say do not order this dish unless your idea of dinner is large pieces of underdone pork fat. This was made, I suppose, of the same pork belly one uses for bacon, but, at least when I cook bacon the fat is rendered to the point of crispiness. This was just plain hunks of meat and fat, mainly fat. When my wife complained to the manager, he just shrugged it off, saying “That’s the style”. Maybe it is, but how about warning us, perhaps calling the dish “Double-cooked fatty pork in spicy sauce”?
Also, the table was much too small. It was big enough for a dessert and coffee in a bistro, but Chinese food is usually, as this was, served in large, communal; platters. As a result, the meal required constant passing and rearranging of platters.
As I left, I could not help thinking of the excellent meal I had had a few days ago at the Kenzo Japanese noodle house, for about half the price.
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