Thursday 11 November 2010

Dumplings' Legend, Chinatown

Sometimes you just need to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon eating dim sum.

Last week, I wrote about Leong's Legends, a decent Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown which recently opened a dim sum offshoot, Dumplings' Legend, just around the corner on Gerrard Street. Reading comments on my post about LL's excellent Siu Loung Bao (or Xiao Long Bao) brought on cravings. It was time to investigate the newbie's offerings.

On the site of the former Golden Harvest, the downstairs room is large and airy with white walls and minimalistic touches. It's fresher looking than some of its neighbours - quite like an Asian St John's in terms of decor. We were lucky to be seated at the front, where the whole wall is a window and the sunshine flitted in over our lunch as we watched the characters of Chinatown amble by. Upstairs is more poky, but does the job.

We arrived about 2pm - prime time it seems. The dining room was packed and a small queue was growing rapidly. However, 3 dumpling makers were at work behind a glass panel at the entrance, rolling, folding and stuffing delicate dumpling wrappers. It's mesmerising to watch while you wait - although I do wonder how long it takes before RSI sets in.

"Whatever", you say. To the food, the food...

Our knobbly cheung-fun arrive first - three generous, slinky, slug-like noodles stuffed with ample slices of sea bass and picked vegetables. A fair price at £3.30. The next table orders the spicy stir fried cheung-fun which looks good and appears to be a popular choice around the room.

Steamed sticky rice in a bamboo tube is delicious but so thick it borders on congealed - a decent set of biceps is required to scoop it out (£4.50).

Barbecued pork buns are excellent - fluffy and filled with big, juicy splashes of sweet, red barbecued meat (3 for £2.50).

Crystal prawn dumplings are small, pretty things, sweet and plump - but nothing which stands out above the norm here (£2.50). Chicken wrapped in banana leaf with Chinese is a highlight - deliciously moist, with satisfying chunks of chicken and Chinese sausage (£2.20).

Finally, out come the pork Siu Loung Bao, for which Leong's Legends are renowed (£6.00). At Dumplings' Legend, they're also fantastic - the little smurf's hut shaped wrapper is quite delicate and so you have to be careful not to pierce it, spilling broth onto the table. It snuggles a parcel of meat within as well as a warm soupy broth which explodes into your mouth on first bite. These should be an essential part of your dim sum order here. The accompanying soy sauce contains thick slithers of shredded ginger - a lovely touch.

We finish with a serve of 3 tiny egg tarts (£2.20) - these are TPG's thing more than mine. They're nothing special, but I quite like the fact they don't taste overly eggy,

Service is efficient and friendlier than you might experience at some Chinatown restaurants. We paid around £15 per head including tea and service, although we could have done with 1 less dish and 1 less pot of tea (at £2.20 each) had we not been feeling so greedy.

Both Leong's Legends and Dumplings' Legend highlight their "highly recommended" dishes with 2 stars on the menu. Interestingly, "Legends specialties" are distinguished with 1 star. I'm not sure what the distinction means.

Dumplings' Legend is good, and it's already popular. I think it may become my cheap and cheerful dim sum restaurant of choice when those Sunday afternoon cravings set in.

Dumplings' Legend, 15-16 Gerrard Street, Chinatown, London, W1D 6JE


  1. I've been itching to come here to see if the xiao long bao are up to scratch but haven't quite got round to it yet! From your photo, they look better than average because the pinch at the top isn't too clumpy.

  2. Mr Noodles - They were excellent; I look forward to hearing what you think of them.

  3. Oooh! I wanted to come here. Shame that it's not solely dumplings though...

  4. That looks pretty damn good from a purely picture basis - pretty damn impressed.


  5. I walked past a few times but got discouraged by the queues. Next time I will wait, looks excellent.

  6. Does look and sound tasty although like Lizzie I was disappointed to find that it wasn't a pure dumpling joint. I'll still give it a go though.

  7. I love Leong's Legends! It's totally my go to for a quick fix and probably the best XLB I've had in London :)

  8. I just love XLB and those pork buns look great as well - looks like the Leongs Empire just keeps succeeding!

  9. Lizzie - I agree a pure dumpling place would be good, particularly given the name!

    TomEats - You'll have to try next time you're here visiting.

    Ute - Yes, 2pm not a great time to arrive.

    Joshua - It's still good, just ignore the others stuff if you want.

    Catty - Then you'll definitely like DL.

    Gourmet Chick - Yep, the pork buns were up there with Yauatcha, but cheaper.

  10. I so wish Torquay had some good Dim Sum places, so many thing I want to try looking at menus. Im such a novice though :S, feel like showing someone new to Dim Sum the Ropes haha

  11. Matthew - Dim sum is the best excuse ever to eat everything on the menu - what a way to get to know it!


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