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Manchurian Legends: The Fall of The Cuisine?

Legends..

As far as my experience in Chinatown goes, restaurants with the term “legends” never manage to cook up a legendary meal. Manchurian Legends, the latest of those “Legends”, join this trend.

There I walked past a modern looking Chinese restaurant. The menu contained a couple of pages of Chinese history, near the fall of the Empire, when Emperor Puyi was ostracised from Beijing and set up his new imperial court in Manchuria, north of China and close to the Mongolian border. The rest.. was history. According to the menu, along with Puyi’s court, there was a migration of Beijingian cuisine and an emergence of Manchurian dishes, which you could say it was a sort of regional fusion (in a nice way). These historical anecdotes sounded utterly exciting. (I am a history geek).

The meal..

The meal, however, was not. First and foremost, the menu, setting aside the history briefing, did not set out which dishes were Manchurian. Rather, I was looking at an eclectic collection of dishes I could also find at other Chinese restaurants nearby. (Please educate me!!) On a positive note, there were a lot of spicy offal dishes that made me drool while reading. The waiter, also, would have proved more helpful if he could speak a little more English. Never mind..

My Pan-Fried Chive and Egg Pastry – there were two decent-sized pieces – was good value for money (£3) but did not wow my palate. Burningly hot, the pastry was soft and good, but the filling did taste predominantly chive-y, salty and MSG-y. Despite the visual abundance of egg, there wasn’t much of its flavour coming through. Golden Baked Frog Legs with Egg Yolk (£10.50) fared much better. The batter was light and nearly greaseless; the legs were full of wondrously juicy muscles; the salted egg yolk crust perfumed the table. I liked it very much. In fact, if I had only ordered this dish and a bowl of rice, I would have liked ML more. Pan-Fried Pig Intestines with Hot Chilli and Pepper (£8.80) was the biggest disappointment. First of all, the term “hot” did not suggest any chilli heat. The green chilli boast no more heat than padron peppers. More? The bad proportion between oyster sauce and oil resulted in a pool of greasy salty-ness. There was two minuscule slices of ginger in the dish, which looked almost accidental rather than intentional. (More ginger would actually enhance taste dimensions of this dish). This was a shame as the intestines were nicely cooked. Spongy, chewy and odourous, as I wanted my intestine dish to be.

I paid and left.

That’s about it…

Enough said,

My head rating says, “6.5 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “5 out of 10″.

MANCHURIAN LEGENDS

12 Macclesfield Street
London
W1D 5BP

Tel. 020 7437 8785

Manchurian Legends on Urbanspoon

11 Comments

  1. I could not agree more. I found this restaurant overwhelmingly disappointing and incredibly salty. I seriously cannot understand what all the fuss is about; I think it even is inferior to the other Legends restaurants.

  2. Julie

    I was really looking forward to this place as the Time Out write-up was full of praise but was utterly disappointed by every dish we tried. No flavour, just very greasy and salty. In fact whilst we were in there 2 other tables were complaining about their food! Worst was the scallion pancakes, translucent and dripping with oil so inedible.

  3. They do seem to be rather inconsistent. I really liked their cold dishes, the dumplings, and the red-cooked pork; but judging by other writeups you’re not the only person who’s had bad dishes there.

  4. Definitely agree the menu (too big and confused) and service (you have to remind them if dishes are missing) is problematic. I did enjoy my meal here when I went, but I take the point that sifting through the dishes to get to the good ones takes requires too much work for most diners.

    For whatever it’s worth, I really enjoyed

    Stir fried chicken hearts and gizzard
    Pig stomach salad
    Steamed egg and chive dumpling
    Minced pork with potato glass noodle

    Wen

    • theskinnybib

      Wen,

      I was sad reading this as I was thinking about getting the Chicken heart and gizzard :’(

      PS I still have no clue what Dong Bei food is supposed to be like. The menu and the dishes don’t strike me as specifically regional for me.

  5. theskinnybib

    @Susan @Su Lin @Julie sorry to hear of your bad experience. I wish there were places that could keep being consistent!!

    @Kake what dishes did you order? I will put it on my order list along with Wen’s >_<

  6. We had shredded kelp (涼拌海帶絲), cucumber with mandarin pork (肘花拍黃瓜), pork and pickled vegetable dumplings (豬肉酸菜水餃), and braised pork with glass noodles (紅燒肉粉條). More details here.

  7. Shame about the informative history being followed by a rather less informative menu. I too like to be educated, particularly when it comes to regional Asian food. And shame about the mixed quality in the cooking – is this down to a chef being very good at their own regional dishes, but being less well versed in others maybe?

    Ah well, glad you went so I know I can concentrate efforts on other places.

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