leong’s legend bayswater
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that a new Leong’s Legend (there are two other branches of the Taiwanese eatery in London’s West End) had quietly sprung up next to Four Seasons on Queensway and I excitedly made a mental note to return for a taste of their much-hyped street fare. The following week I did just that, meeting my friend B, who works nearby there, for a quick lunch. The tastefully decorated restaurant was empty except for another table of two, who left shortly after we arrived, leaving the waitress free to loiter at arm’s length from our table the entire meal, waiting to pounce and clear every plate we finished – annoying would be a gross understatement.
I couldn’t resist ordering the Bubble Milk Tea (sadly, there wasn’t a choice of flavours) but it wasn’t great – the large tapioca pearls were mushy and the tea was a little sweet for my liking. B’s hot Soy Milk inexplicably came in a bowl with a spoon and when we asked the waitress to transfer it into a glass (it was after all, sectioned under beverages, not soups or desserts) she looked at us as if we were mad. The soy milk itself was bland, and unlike my bubble tea not sweetened at all, meaning B had to ask for sugar sachets to flavour it herself. Not a good start.
Oddly, first to arrive weren’t the small dishes, but rather the Fried Noodles with Satay Beef. The oil-slicked noodles, despite being an appetising golden brown colour didn’t actually taste of much and there was no trace of satay to speak of. Maybe we should have opted for one of the many noodle soups instead (but it was such a hot day). We unenthusiastically ate a small bowlful each and left the rest on the plate.
The Gua Bao (one of their specialities) wasn’t much better – the slightly sweet steamed buns, although soft, needed a lot more than the small slice of pork belly and smidgen of sauce to make it a tasty treat, and I can’t say the dusting of crushed peanuts brought anything to the party. The whole thing would have been greatly improved by a spoonful or two of sauce over the meat for moisture and a boost in flavour.
Perhaps ordering dim sum at a Taiwanese restaurant wasn’t the best move, but still Har Gao should never taste like these did. The prawn dumplings looked suspiciously like they could have been steamed from frozen, and the prawn filling was dry, fishy and well, not good. I managed to eat one, while B took one bite and promptly popped the other half on her side plate (together with the remains of her steamed bun).
The only remotely decent thing we ate were the Xiao Long Baos – the pork filling was juicy and incredibly tasty, although unfortunately the skins were too thick and the dumplings poorly made such that they broke at the lightest touch, releasing the lovely soup into the bamboo basket instead of my mouth.
By the time we bit into the Grilled Minced Pork Buns filled with (about a heaped teaspoon of) barely-seasoned coarsely chopped pork meat and fat, we were more than ready to leave. So we paid our bill, which was at least inexpensive, and hurriedly headed off, leaving behind a pile of uneaten food enough for two (undiscerning) diners.
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