The golden rule with new Chinese restaurants that are a part of a chain is to go when they first open. This is when the phantom (yet quite legendary) traveling cooking team sweeps into a kitchen and builds a sparkling reputation for the new restaurant. After a couple of months, once the reputation has been built up, and people come in droves from near and far, this traveling team of entrepreneurial chefs move on to the next great assignment. Not that I am saying this is was is employed at Asian Legend specifically, but I am just saying that this has been known to happen at many new Chinese restaurants.
So I decided to go against my rule of never going to chain restaurants. And guess what? The food actually wasn't too bad.
Mind you, it wasn't mind blowing - but the dumplings were solid, and there was not to much fat even though pork was used. The pork was not too heavily seasoned and was actually quite light tasting. They were stuffed alongside dried conpoy as well. Folding was a tad sloppy, but I am just nitpicking.
Here is a photo of fresh dumpling making magic:
Kung Pao chicken was another story. It was a bit too oily for my tastes, as well as too spicy. I am more accustomed to Cantonese fare, so Northern Chinese food is a bit too full of fire for me. But since this was a signature dish from the North, decided I should give it a try.
Kung Pao Chicken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Next up, a mango fish. If only they hadn't used canned mango pulp/meat, but then again, it wouldn't be $14 if they had used the flesh of several fresh mangos... The fish was expertly fried - nice and light with very little batter. Nice fish, if only the sauce was less sweet and one-noted (needed more seasoning/flavour to the sauce, instead of just mango pulp). Exceptionally large serving of fish for a good price.
Mango Fish: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Softshell crab was a tad of a disappointment. But at 2 for $7, who can really complain? It lacked the flavour and sweetness of a softshell crab I would have from, say, Zen, but it was cheap. So I cannot bash it too much.
Softshell crab: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Desserts were next. Got a free one (green bean) and ordered 1 extra - a black sesame ball in sweet syrup with wine. The wine essence was a bit overpowering for me - a taste sensation I was not accustomed to, so I found it a bit unnerving. Would not say it was the most pleasing taste I have ever tried. Probably many others would recognize it, but I would have to say it was not to my liking necessarily.
The strongest dish of the night was our first dish - a double boiled soup with black chicken and herbs. Excellent and very 'tsing'. Light broth that was full of different nuances of flavours. I would order it again for sure ($4.50). The black chicken was sweet and had a lot of flavour, even after the soup had extracted much of the essence out of it during the boiling process.
Black Chicken (Silkie) Herbal Soup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Be interested to hear what others have to say about this particular location and how it compares to the other, more established Asian Legends. Overall, the food was not bad. They are running a promotion right now and you get 10% off if you buy a 1 year membership (the hook to keep you coming even after the travelling team leaves). Portions are large and the atmosphere is pleasing. Staff are more than competent (even recognized an old face from Keung's working there). I would say it is good value for the money and is a good change up from the norm. Not sure if the quality will hold up though.
Cheers and Happy Eating!
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