04 March 2012
Whatever you do, don't turn up to Taiwanese institution Leong's Legend without all your party present… I'd have had a better reaction standing outside a school offering peeks at my etchings than having the temerity to arrive friendless at Leongs. On learning that my guest was running late I was made to stand on the staircase, like a chubby schoolboy waiting to see the headmaster, until she arrived. It may have slightly classier decor than other Chinatown joints but the welcome and service are reassuringly brusque.
We were there on recommendation for the weekend dim sum menu, I've become slightly obsessed by the dainty Oriental tapas of late. Once I'd persuaded them that I did have someone joining me and wasn't some sort of solo dining restaurant pest, I took advantage of my guest's tardiness and got my ordering on. She arrived as the food did (or possibly the other way round), my social pariah status at an end. At an average of £3-4 a plate, £25 will more than cover two hungry souls.
It was all fresh and seemingly home made, standout were their siu leung bau, or soup dumplings, steamed purses filled with piquant broth and a hunk of garlicky pork mince. There's nothing finer than taking one of these bad boys onto your spoon, biting the tip off and sucking the fresh hot salty liquor out. At £5.50 for eight pieces, they're also very, very good value and an acceptable lunch in their own right. The char sui bau are also excellent versions of the pillowy soft steamed BBQ buns filled with anunctuous porky sauce. We worked our way through a number of other steamed options and a portion of fresh turnip puffs. If I had one, tiny, criticism it would be that the noodle wrapper on the cheung fun was too thick and chewy but that's the only thing I could score them down for.
The menu goes wider than dim sum, and once you've got past the front door it's cleaner and friendlier than a number of other places along the strip. You wouldn't have a problem bringing clients or parents here and for a weekend lunch service without the frenetic trolley action of New World I'd be happy to recommend Leongs. I'll definitely be back, just as soon as I can get my friends to arrive on time.