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Asian Legend Rave

y
yammers Jul 24, 2006 10:30 PM

i was in toronto this weekend and my sister took me to asian legend on dundas street. all the northern chinese foods that i love! loved the scallion pancake wrapped with beef...great soup dumplings. surprisingly trendy decor in chinatown, clean atmosphere. if i had stayed longer i woul dhave made her take me again

  1. Charles Yu Jul 18, 2010 02:39 PM

    Well expressed, LEO!!

    Furhtermore, anyone one who raved about Asian Legend's disgusting dim sum, especially their Xiao Lung Bao should really make a trip up north to taste the really good ones. Never have I seen Xiao lung Bao with nipples the size of Asian Legend's! Rather than just dainty enough to be picked up by chopsticks, the Asian Legend version must be at least 10 times the norm. Totally unappealing and unappertizing!. The skin of both their Bao and pot stickers are as thick as card board rather than translucently thin. And the lack of quality tasty broth inside the morsels are enough to throw foodies off. If the dim sum chef of Hong Kong's Michelin star Ding Tai Fung has a chance to savour an Asian Legend morsel, I think he'll either faint or have a heart attack!!

    11 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu
      b
      balthazar Jul 21, 2010 06:52 AM

      You always have impeccable taste for dim sum restaurants, Charles, I enjoy your reviews. I agree that Asian Legend is disappointing compared to places with much better dim sum (especially for their prices). The service, agreed, is not great.

      Yet weirdly, despite this, I find it can be a good spot for a casual lunch on weekdays, because it's downtown & easy to get to from the financial district, and if going with a group of people who rarely go for Chinese food or dim sum, the food isn't too challenging, everyone usually finds something they like, and the decor is pleasant. It's easy to give instructions on how to find it and how to get there. I find myself there on and off because of that, or because people choose it. Not totally satisfying, but it's "safe" and works out OK. I guess it's not really about the food, but the whole menu/decor/location/price package. I actually much prefer another place on that strip for casual dim sum (I always forget the name), with carts, plastic tablecloths, and you order in Chinese, but some friends would find that atmosphere and style of eating unappealing or too challenging.

      If anyone has a favourite casual/inexpensive go-to dim sum place for lunch downtown (i.e. not Lai Wah Heen), do tell, I'm always interested in trying new places to try. Pearl Harbourfront I know, but I so rarely get to the Dundas strip. I know there have been some other threads in past about this, but the downtown suggestions are usually few or end up at LWH or the conversation moves north.

      -----
      Lai Wah Heen
      108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

      1. re: Charles Yu
        j
        juno Jul 21, 2010 07:31 AM

        Charles Yu probably has the Asian Legend chain summed up pretty well. In many ways, it's quite average; not lousy, just average - compared to the yummy joints in the northeast end of the GTA. But Asian Legend outlets are well located, which is why I find myself in one every month or so. Since its most recent price rises, many dishes seem about a dollar or two (or three) more than they should be, compared to the competition. Still, the outlet at Finch and Leslie is easy for me to get to, the parking is plentiful, the service is good and cheerful, the resto is clean and attractively appointed and - most important - if you know what to order from the hundred dishes or more on offer, you'll do quite well. Note: as mentioned by others, most of the pancake-like appetizers are solid, the crispy chicken and many other dishes hit and miss. You just have to stick with what you think they do well, which you can only do if you work your way through much of the menu (as I have done), or are well advised by others. If I want to eat better, the alternative is to drive through heavy traffic northeast to Charles Yu territory, which I'll do occasionally but not often enough, I suppose.

        The only other solid Chinese joint within my midtown striking distance is Congee Queen, at Lawrence Ave. E. and The Donway, part of another small chain and mentioned favorably on this thread. Wildly popular, does a good job on most every dish, huge portions and notably cheaper than Asian Legend. Three of us ate satisfyingly well there last night. Four tasty dishes. Total: $40, tax included. Similar dishes at Asian Legend would ring up at $50 or more. But if I want a good hot and sour soup, it's to Asian Legend that I must go. I've yet to find a joint in the northeast GTA to match its hot and sour. If you know the menu, you'll survive Asian Legend nicely. If not, and you live downtown or midtown and yearn for something better, steel yourself for a long drive northeast through typically heavy TO traffic.

        -----
        Congee Queen
        895 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M3C3L2, CA

        1. re: juno
          p
          Piggy Smalls Jul 21, 2010 08:19 AM

          i ALWAYS opt to go thru the heavy TO traffic. the way i look at it, i live in toronto, one of the best cities for international cuisine on the continent. toronto chinese food, imo, is better than anything else this side of vancouver/LA/san fran. so i pretty much refuse to pay 50 bucks, eat at a mediocre place like asian legend, and put up with the bad service. when i know i can drive for another 20-30 minutes north and get much higher quality food, for a similar or cheaper price, and be happy.

          yeah i have to drive half an hr more. other asians have to fly in from around north america to enjoy the quality of chinese food we have here. well worth it imo.

          1. re: Piggy Smalls
            b
            balthazar Jul 21, 2010 07:26 PM

            Thx Juno & Piggy Smalls, I agree with going north, etc. It's just if you're popping out from the office downtown/financial district for an hour for lunch, driving north isn't an option, so you're stuck with the Dundas strip (or Pearl Harbourfront). So I'm interested in whatever downtown places people find are consistently good!

            Agreed on Congee Queen, I also like Congee Star. I wish they had those downtown!

            -----
            Congee Queen
            895 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M3C3L2, CA

            Congee Star
            900 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1V6, CA

            1. re: balthazar
              T Long Jul 21, 2010 09:43 PM

              I always liked Yueh Tung at Elizabeth and Dundas (2nd floor), just north of City Hall when I worked in the area 2 years ago. It got crowded very quickly at lunchtime and provided solid, consistent dishes (no dim sum).

              -----
              Yueh Tung
              126 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

              1. re: T Long
                b
                balthazar Jul 22, 2010 05:46 PM

                Thanks T Long and juno for this recommendation! I will try it!

              2. re: balthazar
                c
                caviartothegeneral Jul 22, 2010 07:00 PM

                Driving north also isn't an option if you can't or won't drive, for ethical or economical reasons. I always look at reviews of restaurants in the 'northeast end of the GTA' and figure they may as well be on Mars.
                I've liked Yueh Tung as well.

                -----
                Yueh Tung
                126 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

          2. re: Charles Yu
            pete k Jul 21, 2010 08:27 AM

            What do you recommend in the China Town/downtown area since we’ll be without a car and it looks like taking transit to the suburbs would be over an hour if not longer.

            1. re: pete k
              p
              Piggy Smalls Jul 21, 2010 11:09 AM

              they're all kinda iffy in the chinatown area. no restaurant really stands out above the others imo.

              i'd recommend hua sang over on baldwin though for the seafood. lobster, ginger and scallion oysters, steamed fish, chinese style filet mignon, spicy shrimp, etc. are all excellent there.

              1. re: pete k
                Teep Jul 21, 2010 11:32 AM

                For Cantonese, I would pick
                dinner - E Pan, New Sky, Noble Seafood
                dim sum - Rol San
                noodles - Kings, Swatow

                -----
                New Sky
                353 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G3, CA

                Rol San
                323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                Swatow
                309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

                1. re: Teep
                  j
                  juno Jul 22, 2010 07:59 AM

                  Here's another vote for Yueh Tung, mentioned above, for a quick, tasty and efficient lunch downtown. It has been around forever on Elizabeth Street, just south of Dundas Street, most recently in a big, barn-like room on the second floor of a building on the west side of Elizabeth. Very popular with, it seems, most everyone who works in the neighborhood. A long, long list of lunchtime specials, which are mainly various toppings on rice. I like the bean curd and mixed veggies on rice. A nice touch: not on the menu, but if you ask for consomme soup with chopped onions, you'll get a steaming bowl - at $1. That's gotta be the cheapest soup in the GTA. Even some of the newer staff don't know about it, but if you insist that it does indeed exist, they'll check with the older staff and you'll get it. Good, too, and gets you nicely into your main luncheon dish.

                  It's a little more relaxed at dinner, when the main menu is presented. Good hot and sour soup. But then, most everything is good there, and fairly priced.

                  -----
                  Yueh Tung
                  126 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

            2. d
              dubchild Jun 14, 2010 09:32 AM

              My thing with Asian Legend is I get the soup filled dumplings, beef in green onion pancakes, moo shu pork, pan fried pork dumplings, along with a beer and I walk away happy and full for about $20-25 pp. I don't go out often for Chinese, my experiences have been very mixed. Since we found something that works, we've stuck with it. If someone can suggest a better place where I can get these item, at this price and I don't need a car, I would gladly try it.

              4 Replies
              1. re: dubchild
                m
                madhatt Jun 15, 2010 07:15 AM

                $20-25pp seems expensive for a chinese restaurant. I'll spend $35-40 at Congee Wong and FOUR people will be stuffed.

                1. re: madhatt
                  jlunar Jun 15, 2010 07:52 AM

                  And left-overs! Though I prefer Congee Queen (Don Mills).

                  -----
                  Congee Queen
                  895 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M3C3L2, CA

                  1. re: jlunar
                    m
                    madhatt Jun 15, 2010 11:27 AM

                    I believe Congee Queen is owned by the same peoples, but I may be wrong. Also, Congee Star near Don Mills & Lawrence is also decent :)

                    -----
                    Congee Queen
                    895 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M3C3L2, CA

                    Congee Star
                    900 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1V6, CA

                    1. re: madhatt
                      b
                      balthazar Jul 20, 2010 08:33 PM

                      I love Congee Star. Delicious. Inexpensive. Great for casual eating.

                      -----
                      Congee Star
                      900 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1V6, CA

              2. pinstripeprincess Oct 3, 2006 07:03 PM

                i've been to the dundas location for a snack and have been to the one uptown for a weekend lunch and was not impressed.

                at best they do some things competently but what they get wrong they get dead wrong. we ordered the handmade noodles in soup and the noodles refused to release themselves from the tangled knot they arrived in even after sitting in soup for a while. on top of that they tasted distinctly of flour and were thick and very uneven in size.

                their cold foods were fine, but nothing to rave about. stomach, jellyfish, etc.

                the egg, onion and shrimp pancake probably had half a shrimp to the whole thing. otherwise it was good, good crisp outer shell with substantial filling... cheap filling though.

                additionally, we ordered the hot soy in a bowl and the server pretty much spilled half of it all over the table and on us by slamming it down on the table and didn't even react to clean up. we had to call the manager over to get any extra paper napkins.

                their xiao long bao that has been so raved about was ok. not incredibly flavourful but admittedly seemingly good ingredients inside.

                if i ever want handmade noodles again, mother's dumplings is my place to go.

                7 Replies
                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                  Food Tourist Oct 3, 2006 08:11 PM

                  I agree about the terrible service at Asian Legend Dundas location. The server accidentally flipped the spoon off the fried rice dish, scattering a spoonful of rice on the table, and then actually moved the dish over it to cover it, instead of cleaning it off the table!

                  1. re: Food Tourist
                    p
                    Pizza Lover Oct 3, 2006 08:56 PM

                    Asian Legend service is horrible at their Yonge & Sheppard location as well - not to mention food that is no better than food court quality. After two recent visits we have crossed it off our list for dood and are embarking on a search for another Chinese restaurant in the Yonge-Steeles-Eglinton corridor. Any suggestions?

                  2. re: pinstripeprincess
                    p
                    prairie_dog Jun 13, 2010 10:19 PM

                    What a disappointment! The decor was pleasant, but everything went downhill as soon as we sat down. We told the waiter we did not want anything sweet, and yet he recommended a shrimp dish that was way to sweet and tasted ketchupy. Some online reviews had recommended the beef wrapped in onion pancake (#11), but the pancake was heavy and oily - not good! The other dim sum items were lacking in herbs and quite tasteless. The dan dan noodles, recommended by some on line, were bland and oily. We asked for a serving spoon for the noodles, and they brought a useless little soup spoon. I have never had so disappointing a meal in any restaurant in Toronto and will not go back.

                    1. re: prairie_dog
                      Charles Yu Jun 14, 2010 07:20 AM

                      Asian Legend is one of the MOST HIGHLY RATED Chinese establishment on this board. Compare to other current favs, their food is mediocre at best! Cannot understand why, with so many 'negative postings', people still waste their money going there?

                      1. re: Charles Yu
                        Underdog Rally Jun 14, 2010 08:03 AM

                        I think the comparison to a food court is fair. Unfortunately, those food courts are in Markham, and not really accessible during my 1 hour lunch. When I visit, I spend ~$7-8 per person at the Dundas location on the few dishes that I enjoy. I happen to like their xiao long bao and shu mai, probably for the same reasons that others might despise it (i.e. thick, chewy skins). I can't speak positively for most of the rest of the menu, but that's not going to remove it from my lunch rotation.

                        If I want handmade noodles and more authentic dumplings, then I'll go line up at Mother's. But sometimes I just feel like eating giant, chewy shu mai...

                        1. re: Underdog Rally
                          T Long Jun 14, 2010 08:30 AM

                          My only recent experience with Asian Legend was at the Yonge Street Branch in North York meeting up with friends. They ordered, I enjoyed the food. Will definitely return. Not a fan of Mother's, based on a single visit.

                        2. re: Charles Yu
                          s
                          siki2 Jun 15, 2010 08:39 AM

                          Best location for service is Sheppard/Brimley in Scarborough where there are more Chinese families dining than the Dundas downtown location. Haven't yet made it to Mother's, but when I want Northern Chinese dim sum, Asian Legend hits the spot. It's not gourmet, and I'm sure you can find better individual dishes at other places. The decor/cleanliness are better than most other Chinese places. My faves are eggplant and green bean dishes, fan tuan (rice rolled around donut, with shredded meat), white radish filled pancake, za jiao mien (noodles with a kind of Chinese bolognese sauce) , and had good Peking duck last weekend. Beef noodle soup is ok, it's better at Lao Li (the Chinese name, not sure of the English name) beef noodle soup place at Sheppard and Midland plaza. Xiao long bao is better at Ding Tai Fung.

                    2. Food Tourist Oct 3, 2006 06:30 PM

                      I had a lacklustre experience at Asian Legend on Dundas last week. Ho-hum fried rice, average smoked duck, and really disappointing snow pea shoots. Overpriced and underwhelming. I must have ordered the wrong dishes!

                      1. t
                        tinybites Jul 28, 2006 09:32 PM

                        I agree, this is one of my favourite "standby" restaurants! When I was living in Richmond Hill I used to go to the Hwy 7 location a lot, and now that I'm downtown, I visit the Dundas location at least once a month. My usual dishes include the green onion w/ beef pancakes, and the soup noodles with braised beef. I also like their soup noodles with pickled greens -- I believe they use fresh mustard green vs. preserved. Recently I branched out and also had their crispy chicken -- a dish I don't normally like because it tends to be dry, but it was delicious! The wuxi spare ribs and the moo shu pork are also yummy.

                        1. s
                          sway Jul 26, 2006 04:08 PM

                          I think it's the curdled appearance more than anything that puts me off, but maybe I'll try it again with that in mind...maybe : )

                          1. s
                            sway Jul 26, 2006 03:39 AM

                            one of my faves, when I lived at Yonge and Shepp, I was there almost every weekend. Other favorites besides the dishes above: vegetarian dumplings, stir fried rice cakes, cold jelly fish salad, cold chicken plate, stir fried pea shoots, ma po tofu, rice rolls with shredded meat, shredded meat and egg sandwich and red bean pancakes.
                            The only things I didn't like on the menu (and I've worked my way through a good 2/3 of it) were: Chiuchow congee, wontons in chili peanut sauce (fiery!!!), salty soy milk (an acquired taste) and seafood noodles (mediocre seafood, great noodles).
                            Yum... I'm getting hungry...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sway
                              Teep Jul 26, 2006 02:08 PM

                              Think of the "salty soy milk" as a kind of sweet and sour soup, and you may have a new perspective!

                            2. s
                              sammiemiche Jul 25, 2006 02:33 AM

                              Stumbled upon this restaurant while driving through Richmond Hill. Loved the food at first bite. Been back to Asian Legends few times more with different group of friends,they all liked the food. There's another location in Markham. Among the favorite are the onion pancakes, the beef rolls that comes wrapped in foil, and the dark soya sauce beef noodles.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: sammiemiche
                                w
                                weekender Jul 26, 2006 11:34 AM

                                Where in Richmond Hill is this? Sounds great!

                                1. re: weekender
                                  s
                                  sammiemiche Jul 28, 2006 02:36 AM

                                  It's around Hwy#7 West Beaver Creek area, there's a mall called Commerce Gate or some such, west of leslie. It's a busy strip mall with several restuarants. Here's the address and phone number, hope it helps
                                  505 Highway 7 East,
                                  Thornhill, ON L3T 7T1
                                  Tel. : 905-763-8211

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