South Legend Szechuan in Milipitas
Ten of us gave South Legend in Milipitas a try for lunch today.
We had the following dishes which cost us $16 each
Siced Kindey in Pepper Sauce
Diced Rabbit in Sichuan Red Oil
Sour Pork Tendon Soup
House Special Whole Fish with Minced Pork
Dry Fried Yellow Eel
Shredded Duck with Ginger and Red Bell Pepper
Twice Cooked Bacon with Crispy Bread
Dry Fried Eggplant
Four Season Green Bean
I will reserve my comments after the others have done so.
Thanks for organizing and ordering for this lunch, yimster! Our South Bay lunch group decided to take a little break from Viet food this month, so I was very happy to heartily suggest South Legend since I've been wanting to go forever!
As resident photographer, here are my photos of all of the dishes: http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow...
I had to brighten a few shots and apologize for some unfocused shots in my desire to be as unobtrusive as possible and let the hounds have at it.
Now yimster, I don't recall us ever being served the duck dish. You didn't mention that we had deep-fried ribs, so perhaps the kitchen swapped or you ordered differently? I'm a little confused now, so please clarify.
This was probably my first true experience of a Sichuan feast, and overall I was very pleased. My favorites were the couple beef, sliced kidney, twice fried bacon w/ bread (no brainer delicious!), and ong choy. The first two appetizers really stimulated my palate w/ the beef having complex chile flavors and the kidney's green sauce being so herbacious in contrast. Seconds later my tongue was tingling in joy. A very unique sensation...
The bacon/bread dish was so unusual...never seen anything like it before. Loved the interplay of sweet leeks, smoky bacon, and crispy sheets of bread "skin". While I've eaten loads of ong choy in my life, this version tasted just right and was addictive. Get lots of white rice to cut through the richness of the meal and soak up all the various sauces!
What I couldn't help but observe and appreciate was how well everything was sliced. Many items were sliced thinly and evenly, which made for a very pleasant texture and lots of surface area for heightened flavor impact. Being someone who prefers moderate heat level, I found South Legend's dishes to be right where I'd like. The only dish that exceeded my heat tolerance was the eel, which I didn't eat too much of.
My least favorite dishes were the soup, eggplant, and rabbit. The soup was way too thick and starchy, more reminiscent of a sauce than soup. I didn't care for the sweet sour flavor either. Eggplant was unremarkable and paled in comparison to the other veggies at the table. The rabbit was diced too small for me to enjoy and had too many bones. I didn't care for the combo of rabbit and peanut either. The fish was sweet and interestingly sauced; however, as many of us noted at the table, it was a touch overcooked. I also thought it was pretty small for the price, so not a good value.
I definitely can't wait to return to South Legend and explore more of their huge menu. All of the dishes we ordered were on their regular bilingual menu (except daily specials), so I'm confident about ordering on my own. They were pretty busy for lunch but were adequately attentive and good at pacing dishes. Overall, a very good value for the caliber and variety of dishes we sampled today.
Thanks to yimster for bringing donuts from Stan's for dessert and for all the great company! For those who would like to be added to our monthly Thurs. lunch series invite list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For other hounds who've been here before, what else do you like/dislike?
South Legend Sichuan
1720 N. Milpitas Blvd. (same strip mall as Lion
Sun-Th 11am-2:30pm; 5pm-9:30pm
Fri-Sat 11am-2:30pm; 5pm-10pm
Add my thanks to Yimster for ordering our lunch today and to Alice and CL for suggesting it - I realized that it's been quite a long time since I've eaten a Sichuan meal... I was trying to remember a duck dish too - I thought "how could I have missed duck if it was there..."
My favorites were the same as CL - especially the Couples Beef - it was love at first bite for me! The roasty/toasty chili flavor and the numbing feeling of the Sichuan peppercorns - just so yummy (sigh). The cold kidney was very nicely done too. I liked the ong choy as well; nice garlicky freshness. I always enjoy green beans done this way so I liked them too. The pork belly with crispy bread and leeks was one of those dishes that you just kind of want to keep on eating long after you've had enough...
As we were leaving after lunch, several of us picked up the menu - I was just giving it a look - wow, there are so many interesting sounding things - I hope I can get back over there again and try some more dishes!
Before today, mapo tofu has been the only dish I've had at a sichuan-specializing restaurant, so today really opened up my tastebuds to new things and I was a bit overwhelmed so by the end I couldn't remember specifics of all the tastes. Overall I liked the flavors & complexity of spicing (not just different kinds of heat, but different spices) that we got, so Yimster thank you for ordering well.
The nitpicky things I have is like CL I thought the soup was too cornstarchy (though I liked the texture of the tendon in it), the tiny bits of rabbit bones were annoying to keep pulling out of my mouth (though I liked combining rabbit with peanuts), and some of the dishes were too salty for my preference (recognizing that sichuan food is generally on a saltier level).
I don't know if I can pick favorites. I think the cilantro-sauced kidneys, the deep-fried crunchy/crispy but non-greasy pork ribs, the eel with chives & leafy veggie, and the cumin lamb were the tops. Normally I don't like eel because of its muddy smell/taste, and I don't usually like lamb because of its lambey smell/taste, but both of these dishes were prepared so well I did not detect the muddy taste or lambey taste.
This was my first time meeting up with this lunch group. Thank you all for your warm, welcoming spirit. Being the spice wimp that I am, I was afraid that there wouldn't be anything that I could eat but I was wrong. I enjoyed the food very much. My favorites were the ribs and the fish. Even though the fish was cooked longer than I liked, the pork and chilis and other seasonings were wonderful. And RWC foodie convinced me to eat a chili pepper and I am glad that I did. It was a most enjoyable meal. Thanks Yimster for your efforts in planning out the meal and for bringing those donuts!
Yes, it was a thoroughly enjoyable lunch! Thank you to Carb Lover for organizing, and Yimster for ordering!
The food was delicious, and pariticularly interesting because, while lots of it had chili incorporated in some form, the combination of flavors in each dish were clearly unique--often with several layers of flavor. (I was reminded of the way good Indian cooks manage to blend spices to make each curry taste different.)
As far as favorite dishes are concerned, I share Carb Lover's opinions on almost all the dishes: loved the green beans, which is definitely one of the best versions I've ever had (Yimster says the added ooomph comes from a pickled and peppered turnip), the cumin lamb (not for people who can't take a lot of the pungent-punky aroma), bacon with crisp bread, and couples beef. I only wish the white rice had come a bit earlier: one appreciates the ability of plain rice to act as a backdrop and palate cleanser amidst such extravagantly seasoned dishes.
Incidentally, the Chinese bakery next door does a good sponge cake, and the love letter (rolled) butter cookies are wonderful, delicate, crisp, buttery, and not too sweet.
I totally agree on the "love letter" cookies from next door - especially the coffee flavor! I also picked up a small egg shaped bun with a mango filling - very different and interesting (in a good way). The bakery is Kee Wah - a chain. Their business card lists offices in SF Bay Area, LA, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I like these kinds of baked goods for the light hand with sugar...
Oh, I'm sorry that I didn't check out Kee Wah now! I went in the north direction of the mall and wandered into Shen Kee Bakery. Most things were individually packaged and didn't look freshly-made so I didn't buy anything.
I liked the spaciousness of this Lion market, although the produce/meat/fish didn't look as fresh as other ones I've been to in San Jose. I did get a good deal on pork ribs to make some smoky BBQ ribs for supper tonight.
About that cumin lamb: I liked the texture and enjoyed the flavor at first, but the muddy-earthy cumin flavor became overpowering and one-note for me. Cumin tasted well-toasted and fresh enough, so I mostly attribute it to personal preference. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it w/ more of a spicy element...
Thanks to the Yimster for ordering lunch and for the Stan's Donuts - and to Carb Lover for the fine photos and the organizing. We lingered until we were the last to leave the restaurant - somehow the Sichuan flavors were layers of spice and heat and came too quickly dish upon dish to discern. Starting with the kidney and the couples beef was brilliant. The crusty bits of pork on the fish were tantalizing. The cumin lamb and the green beans easily tempt me back to reorder a replay of yesterday's lunch. I hope I can find my way back to South Legend Szechuan in Milipitas. Nice to see y'all!
CL you are right we did not have the Shredded Smoked Duck dish I and I forgot the pork ribs. Sorry. I will try to do better next time. After all I getting old.
My comment on South Legend is that the chefs in the kitchen are good at add spices and peppers to the dishes. What I love about Sichuan dishes are that if the chef is skillful than the flavor and heat dance in my mouth. Each dish pick on one section of my taste buds while another go after a new section. The old chef at China Village would serve dishes where the heat would be in one part of my mouth and the next dish would go after another letting the frist area rest. In my mind it was like a dancer cover the entire dance floor with flavor. One plus for China Village the wait staff was trained to present the dishes in the right order to get the best effect on the flavors. South Legend was presented the dishes in the order they were cooked.
I will be back to check more dishes later.
My only disappointment were the fish since it was over cooked a little, soup too thick and the rabbit was cutted up to fine and thereby had pieces of bones. Otherwise all the dishes I would order again.
Had a really disappointing experience here; ordered the sichuan cold noodles and hoped to receive a dish like the one at Little Sichuan @ San Mateo: good ma la action... it was more like a peanuty/sesame noodle gloop.
Also tried the ma po tofu; no sichuan peppercorns used AT ALL. Where were they? Where's the spice?!?!!