The hearty cuisine of north-eastern China is rare in London, but Manchurian Legends – which since summer 2012 has been ensconced in these folksy little premises – specialises in the food. The menu, brought by young smiling waitresses, is long and enticing, with robust meat and offal dishes dominating.
Lamb, wheat (rather than rice) and hotpots characterise the cookery, so succulent, fatty lamb skewers with chilli and sesame-seed topping make an apt starter. Or try beef tendon and tripe in spicy sauce: tender meat and a welter of wobbly honeycomb tripe, doused in chilli oil and topped with peanuts, the vast portion was enough for three to share. Alternatively, there’s a fine choice of fried dumplings.
Next could come Manchurian hotpot (a DIY feast where diners dunk raw titbits into boiling stock), or a warming beef brisket stew with white carrot (the cinnamon-flavoured gravy permeated the turnip-like carrot, but the beef needed more cooking). Equally rich was a lusciously slithery but too oily aubergine and minced pork dish (the advertised broad bean sauce seemingly absent). Noodles are thick and appealing, but it would be nice to see some Xinjiang bread – and more vegetable dishes to counterbalance all the meaty richness.