*Restaurant is now closed*
For me, I call it the "trap". Trap? What trap you might ask... Let me explain. The trap I am referring to is the seemingly endless "featured" restaurants on the Food Network. You know, the ones that a celebrity host/chef visits and raves about. Funny how none of them visit any restaurants that suck. I'm sure you will never hear Rachel Ray replace her "yum-o" with "yuck-o". Or better yet, find Guy Fieri exclaiming "That's crummy!" over his catch-phrase of "That's money!" That's right, the celebrity endorsement (well, sorta) strikes again. Much like how Don Taylor boasted about his "no pain" visit to Dr. Pollock, we fall into the dreaded "trap". Hey, if they like it, I should too! How very wrong that can be... Although I knew about Legendary Noodle for awhile now, it wasn't until Bob Blumer's Glutton for Punishment that it became a must visit for me. Yes, I fell into the "trap". You see, they were one of the featured restaurants in the Xiao Long Bao Competition (which Lin ended up winning). So with unrealistic expectations, we headed over to the Main street location for dinner. I ended up dragging Costanza and Elaine with us as well.
Known for their hand-pulled noodles, Legendary is very much a hole-in-the-wall establishment. Another similar, albeit more well-known (not necessarily better) restaurant is Sha-Lin. Naturally, the first thing that Costanza wants to order is the Beef Brisket, Peppers & Gai Lan on Rice (in a noodle joint of all things). Yah, call it foreshadowing; but none of us were holding out any hope that it would be good. And man it was no good. Topped by a flavourless and greasy sauce, it was like eating rice with brown-coloured water. The few bits of meat were okay though. I originally wanted to get their award winning Lamb Shank Noodles; but other than myself, no one wanted lamb. So we opted for the Beef Noodles instead. I have to wholeheartedly admit that the noodles themselves were very good. A bit chewy, a bit starchy and just soft enough. However, the broth was bit too light, bordering on bland. The soup base lacked depth. I could barely taste much meat flavour. We also got the Shredded Pork & Pickled Vegetable Noodle Soup and due to the topping being stir-fried, this resulted in a much more flavourful product. Just like the beef noodle, we got the thin noodles and they were perfect.
Now for the biggest disappointment of the meal. The Xiao Long Bao. Yes, I know that this should not be their specialty since it is predominantly a noodle shop. However, they were featured in the XLB competition at the Richmond Night Market last year, one would think that it would be at the very least decent. Sadly and amazingly, they were one of the worst XLB we've had other than Cantonese Dim Sum and frozen. Yes, I am being harsh here; but there was absolutely no juice in the dumplings and the skin was relatively thick and gummy. Maybe my expectations were too high? I guess I should have taken a hint when they finished 4th out of the 5 competitors with Bob Blumer taking 5th. That probably explains Lin winning so handily. Look at the competition! Where was Shanghai River, Shanghai Wonderful or Wang's???
I guess the disappointment was slightly tempered by the decent Pan-Fried Dumplings. Albeit greasy, the dumplings were crisp while the pork filling was flavourful. Continuing on the grease theme, the Stir Fried Shredded Pork Noodles were so oily that I had issues picking them up with my chopsticks. In fact, once finished, there was a disturbingly large pool of oil on the plate. Despite that, the cut noodles had a nice chewy consistency bathed in dark soy. We also liked the plethora of crunchy veggies. Curiously, this large plate of noodles cost roughly the same as the small plate of rice.
Our last dish was the Green Onion Pancakes and honestly, they were more like fry bread than pancakes. They were crunchy and stiff with little in the way of green onion flavour. In fact, we could barely see much in the way of green at all. At the very least, they were not greasy. Wow. I never in a million years thought this meal would turn out the way it did. How can it be that so many people like this place? I'm not saying that it was terrible; but it definitely wasn't good either. Practically everything was greasy and had execution issues. I can't believe these XLB were in a competition to tell you the truth. That totally blows me away. To be fair, the noodles were not bad, so they are able to make something right. Excuse me while I figure a way to crawl outta this trap I seemed to have fallen into...
- Fresh and well-prepared noodles
- Uh, you were expecting more good?
- Greasy food
- The Xiao Long Bao were in a competition? No way...
- Not as cheap as you think it might be