I’ve never been to Taiwan and I look forward to the day when I get to set foot on that paradise island of street food. Well at least that’s how I picture Taiwan…brimming with food stalls and night food markets. Yum yum.
But for now, the London-based Taiwanese restaurant – Leong’s Legend – will have to suffice. There are two Leong’s Legends and both are located walking distance from each other within London’s busy Chinatown. Leong’s Legends I & II are similarly decked out with rustic square wooden tables, blocky stools and low hanging basket lamps. If you are not able to find a seat at LL1, then head promptly to LL2, where chances of getting a table are much higher at the newer tri-level shop-house location.
Two of my must-haves on the menu are their xiao-long-bao (steamed pork ‘soup’ dumplings) and their ‘Tiger pork bun’.
Although its origins are from Shanghai and not Taiwan, Leong’s is still famous for their xiao-long-bao. Eight small dumplings are served in a hot bamboo steamer, accompanied with a small dish of chinkiang vinegar and ginger slivers. The skin of the dumpling and amount of soup within are supposedly telling factors of how good a dumpling is. Leong’s version of the xiao-long-bao has tender, doughy skin which can be a hit or miss some days and there’s sufficient soup within them to splash on your shirt (read: latest victim – hubby) or burn your tongue, if not careful. Traditionally, xiao-long-baos are filled with minced pork, but there’s a posher version at Leong’s that has pork and crab meat. (for an extra £1)
The curiously named ‘Tiger pork bun’ is literally translated from its Chinese name as ‘Tiger bites Pig’. This is a true-blue Taiwanese street snack. A slab of fattilicious braised belly pork is encased in a split steamed bun (similar to a mantou) and topped with sweet peanut powder, pickled mustard greens and cilantro. The combination of sweet (peanuts), savoury (pork) and sour (pickled greens) flavours is sensational.
Taiwan’s staple of beef brisket noodle soup is also delicious and comes in a very generous serve. At our last visit, we decided to try something else besides the regular stuff and so we went for a stir-fried glass noodle dish. Big, bold flavours in what is essentially a tasteless vermicelli noodle. Very nice.
4 Macclesfield Street
London W1D 6AX