The plan wasn’t to eat Taiwanese.
But after freezing our behinds off at the Malaysian street markets on Friday evening (organisers pay attention, major fail) and fed up of waiting in long lines for very little/no reward, we ventured to Chinatown for a real meal. Being 8pm of course the line for Rasa Sayang was insane which we should have known – after all we weren’t the only ones seeking to fill our stomachs with Malaysian food that evening.
Instead we found ourselves at the Lisle St branch of Leong’s Legends mainly because they were the only restaurant about that could accommodate us. With sleek wooden, dark interiors, you could mistake this cheap Taiwanese restaurant for somewhere a bit fancy. The formula seems to be working with the third branch of this restaurant opening recently in Bayswater.
After quickly ordering warm soy milk and wine, we settled into the menu.
We couldn’t go to Leong’s Legends without ordering their Xiao Long Bao (XLB £6) or steamed pork soup dumplings which the restaurant is famed for. The dumplings had a medium-thick skin and whilst were no Din Tai Fung (DTF) had a nice pork filling filled with plenty of broth. I have actually dined at Leong’s during my pre-blog era, and remember the XLB’s being slightly better than this – thinner skin, richer broth. My last criticism is that the XLB’s don’t look like they have been wrapped properly. Where is the center crater I ask? The chef may be ex-DTF but his dumplings are just not quite there.
Next up, Leong’s Braised Pork Belly (£6.50), was rich, flavourful and melted in you mouth. Not a dish for the faint hearted as the pork belly was probably 70% fat, and unfortunately in this dish, it’s the fatty part that’s the tastiest. There is just something about belly fat melting away so easily in your mouth that is just so satisfying.
One of the restaurants signature dishes – Sticky rice with shredded pork (£3.80) had nice flavour but I found the pork overly dry and tough. The rice does absorb a lot of the sauce during steaming, which makes the sticky rice even more moorish.
Our last dish was a delicious hot and sour soup broth with noodles and oysters (~£6.50). I actually don’t recall what it is called on the menu, so I made up the description based on taste. The winning part for me was in the thickness of the soup broth, combined with the noodles. It sat with me perfectly on that cold autumn night and when eaten in conjunction with the pork belly, cut through the fat brilliantly.
I have read other reviews which comment on Leong’s daytime dimsum menu which I am yet to try. But to be honest, I don’t really think I want to try it as dim sum is hardly a Taiwanese speciality. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Our meal came to £12 a person including service which was an absolute bargain of a dinner. I will be back if only for that heart attack inducing pork belly, but for my Xiao Long Bao fix, I think I will continue to visit Hakkasan (yes I know it’s at a price) as at least they have the thin skin, plenty of broth combination perfected.
Leongs Legend Continues
26-27 Lisle Street
Chinatown, WC2H 7