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One of the newish kids on the Chinatown block (it opened in 2010), this restaurant’s moniker doesn’t, sadly, refer to a mythical tale of steamed parcels. Rather, it denotes that it’s owned by the Leong’s Legends people (who like to tack the word ‘Legend’ on to all their gaffs), and that here, they specialise in making dumplings – specifically, xiao long bau, or ‘soup dumplings’. Prepared from scratch by a white-masked, four-strong line-up of chefs industriously working behind a glass pane, xiao long bau don’t get any fresher than this, their delicate skins bursting in the mouth to release both filling and ‘soup’.
Of the three we sampled on our visit, both the standard vegetarian and pork versions impressed, with tightly packed fillings and fragrant broths (the first a garlicky number; the second a heady ginger infusion). But a third variety, billed simply as ‘spicy pork’, was in fact made to a fiery Sichuan recipe, complete with the distinctive flavours of mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and soapy lotus root. An unhappy bedfellow for the gentle Cantonese tones elsewhere on the menu, this dish should be ordered last, or not at all.
Other dishes restored the peace, from thick golden squares of moreish fried turnip cake, the sweet root balanced by tiny pieces of salty shrimp, or quivering cheung fun (stuffed rice noodles) filled with plump, bouncy prawns and sitting in a puddle of darkly smoky, sesame-laced soy.
The minimalist decor rightly keeps the focus on the food, but poor staff communication on our visit – where anything but the simplest request became lost in translation – was an unwelcome distraction.
15-16 Gerrard Street
|Transport:||Tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus tube|
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