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Sep 13, 2007 09:54 AM

Asian Legend

I went to a location in North York and thought it was fantastic, but I am living in the downtown area. Someone told me there was a location on Spadina (in Chinatown), but can anyone tell me exactly where it is situated at?


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  1. I just went there last week for the 1st time. Thought it was fantastic. I recommend trying to get a table in the basement. Much nicer and less noisey as the upstairs seemed to be. The location is
    418 Dundas St W
    Their map shows it being on the corner of Spadina & Dundas.Also seem to have a website

    30 Replies
    1. re: camp1980

      Thanks a lot for your help. And I'm relieved to hear that their quality is consistent from locale to locale!

      1. re: camp1980

        It's actually on the North side of Dundas, between Spadina and Beverley.

        1. re: camp1980

          What dishes were fantastic, camp? I am willing to try it again after many boring meals in the past.


          1. re: deelicious

            Went for lunch with one other person and just did dim sum. The green onion pancake was my favorite item and I don't like onions at all. I found everything to be very fresh and had great flavour. It was an over all very enjoyable meal. Plan on going back next week with everyone else from the office.

            1. re: camp1980

              One item we like there which is hard to get downtown is "glutinous rice ball" (I think that's what it's called in English). There is an outer glutionus rice layer, a fried dough stick in the middle, with dried pork floss and preserved turnip. It comes in a 6" log shape, wrapped in plastic wrap and cut into 3 or 4 pieces (you can request how many pieces you want from the one order).

              It can be very good with the dough stick still crispy crunchy, but sometimes it's soggy and not so good. There is a sweet version that we never order, the pork and turnip being replaced with sugar (and/or something else?)

              T&T on Steeles have this made to order, with different glutinous rice and fillings. Not sure if the Cherry St one carries it.

          2. re: camp1980

            The basement is open only when the upstairs is getting full, AFAIK. I remember the seats being more comfortable in the basement as well.

            1. re: Teep

              or for large groups...last time I reserved, they told me there was a $200 minimum order. For 15 people, we ordered about 20 dishes and left with take-out boxes and happy tummies.
              I always get the xiao long bao and that onion pancake.

              1. re: jinxed

                The onion pancakes are no joke. A very delicious appetizer for a small fee.

                1. re: Cimmerian

                  Asian Legend is not good at Dundas / Spadina. I read all these reviews and had high hopes. I had the siu loan boa (so .. so), green onion pancake (seemed like from a frozen packet) with beef , doa miu with crab sauce -- sauce was the only thing good, doa miu, it was blanched... not cooked in high wok heat so the doa miu high heat thingy flavour was not there, and that noodle with peking sauce - this had no umph of any sort..just saucy with i don't know what flavour ... none of it that great. I had that noodle at the fast food court at pacific mall where they make the noodles fresh...that was great! So Asian Legend was not good ... I won't go back. It was crowded and noisy. I rather just go to Swatow and kings noodles for cantonese and get my siu loan boas from ding tai fung .. at 1st markham place and noodles from sun's kitchen at pacific mall.

                  1. re: Chocaholic

                    Am I glad to read your posting, Chocaholic!

                    IMO, I thought Asian Legend was way way over-rated from day one. Unfortunately, no one bothers to listen. To me, its no more than just a chain outfit for pseudo northern Chinese food than say Olive garden is to Italian food! There are so many eateries out there in the Richmond Hill / Markham area that are way way better!

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      And they have a very heavy hand with MSG - one visit was enough for me.

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Charles, do you know of any downtown resto that serves good Northern food?

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Have you ever tried Chinese Traditional Buns?

                            1. re: ChalkBoy

                              I've always preferred Chinese Traditional Buns to Mother's Dumpling's. But the place looks too forbidding for 'most of my whiter friends'. Also neeed a group to get a good selection as each order is fairly large.

                              1. re: estufarian

                                Based on Chowhound, I've tried both Traditional Buns and Mother's. Food is OK, but nothing special imo, but the overall setting (decor?) will keep me away. If they are typical authentic northern Chinese cuisine experiences, give me Asian Legend anyday.

                                1. re: T Long

                                  The Asian Legend chain doesn't offer a knockout dining experience, but it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. As the savvy Charles Yu has regularly pointed out, there are much, much better Chinese joints north and east of town - many of which he's tipped us off to - but for those of us unwilling to make the gruelling safari out that way, it's nice to know Asian Legend exists at the medium-priced level. True, many of the dishes on its voluminous menu are no more than acceptable, but if you know what to order, you'll have a tasty, satisfying dinner. I commend the hot and sour soup (in my view, among the tastiest in Toronto), many of the northern Chinese appetizers (especially No. 10) and, among the mains, No. 101 (a tofu dish with pork). Most of the veggie dishes are solid as well, most of the beef dishes not so much. The crispy chicken is a total washout - it's done much better at Sun Star, a smallish, hugely popular family-run Cantonese joint on Finch Ave. E., a short drive from my nearby Asian Legend, at the corner of Finch Ave. E. and Leslie St. Indeed, if Sun Star is jammed - as it often is - when I turn up lusting for its crispy chicken, I simply move on to my next choice, Asian Legend. Overall, it's a cut below Sun Star in the intensity of its flavors and the imagination of some of its dishes, but at least Asian Legend usually has a table, the service from the alert young staff is impeccable and my English is understood. Most important, I know the dishes to avoid (crispy chicken, no thanks). The place is usually bustling with local, often-younger Asians, who seem to be enjoying themselves immensely.

                                  All Asian Legends have almost exactly the same menu, but lately I've noticed - as have others - the execution at the Dundas St. outlet has dipped below par, and I've given up on the small, crowded tables for two at the otherwise-decent north Yonge St. branch. So it's the Finch/Leslie branch for me when I can't bring myself to voyage farther north to Yang's (a terrific joint at, seemingly, the ends of the earth) and other fine Charles Yu discoveries up that way. In short, the AL chain seems to fill the gap between the bare-bones joints near Dundas and Spadina and the better, fancier spots up north - though it's not quite a match for the home-like food at places like Sun Star, Maple Yip and Fantasy Eatery.

                                  Aside to estufarian: several people I eat out with at Asian Legend are highly sensitive to MSG, and they've never ever had an MSG reaction at any Asian Legend outlet. Perhaps you got sideswiped on an off night.

                                  1. re: juno

                                    It was a night when I had the hot & sour soup (at Dundas).
                                    And the 3:00am reaction!

                                    1. re: juno

                                      Hello Juno. Yes, Asia Legend is also known for their excessive use of MSG. One can tell by developing extreme thirst after the meal and a 'lock-jaw' sensation!

                                      1. re: juno

                                        juno, is there any reason you go to the Finch/Leslie Asian Legend vs. the Yonge/Sheppard one? Just curious if it has better quality or whether it's just the nightmare traffic up Yonge St.

                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                          I've only been to the Leslie/Finch location once and thought the service was sweet and wonderful and the food was atrocious. Would not go back. I've liked the food at the Yonge/Finch one in the past, but the service has been abysmal so no rush to head back.

                                          Never ever suffered from any MSG symptoms at any Asian Legend.

                                          1. re: TorontoJo

                                            I used to go to the Yonge/Sheppard location - actually, it's closer to Yonge and Empress - which is not too far from where I live. But I got weary of juggling dishes at that spot's tiny tables for two. There never seemed to be enough room for the dishes we've ordered. We were constantly shifting plates from here to there and back, often laying them off at nearby empty tables - until someone turned up to claim the table. Then it was back to playing musical plates. Others on Chowhound have mentioned this annoyance. Also, the Yonge St. traffic around there is, as you've pointed out, no fun, though it eases slightly after 9 p.m. or so.

                                            So, after a good tip on Chowhound (the reliable Charles Yu, I think), I moved on to Sun Star on Finch Ave. W. for my Chinese food fix, thus avoiding Yonge St.; and when Sun Star''s too crowded - as it often is with knowledgable Cantonese food buffs on a budget - on a short drive east to AL's Leslie/Finch location. I've noticed precious little difference in execution of the menu between the two Asian Legends. Service is good at both places, I find, with Leslie/Finch perhaps a little more alert and smoother. The manager there quarterbacks a well-run operation. An added touch at Leslie/Finch: lots of free parking. Further added touch: a visit to the fish department of the next-door Asian supermarket, where you can gaze at exotic thingies like belt fish and live geoducks up close. Those geoducks look mighty dangerous (before they're cooked).

                                            As to why some MSG-sensitive folks suffer after a AL visit and others don't, I knoweth not. All bodies react differently, I suppose.

                                            P.S. Tables at Sun Star seem to open up most days after 8:15 p.m. Before then, you'd better be patient - but the payoff is the tasty food, with most dishes executed a cut above AL. Though AL has it beat on hot-and-sour soup.

                                2. re: Teep

                                  Well, I'm not Charles, but I can only think of Mother's Dumplings. Their prices have gone up and quality less consistent w/ the newer workers she has hired.

                                  But yes, nothing comparable to the choices and quality uptown.

                                  1. re: aser

                                    You're right Aser. Forgot about Mother's Dumpling. They used to be pretty good but unsure about quality nowadays.

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      I certainly haven't noticed any drop in quality at Mother's Dumplings.

                                      1. re: magic

                                        One time I received dumplings that weren't properly pinched. By the time they finished cooking and were plated, they were open.

                                        Another quibble is they're constantly sold out on certain items. They definitely need to manage their par stock better.

                                        1. re: aser

                                          Personally, I've never received dumplings that have split at MD. If I did, I agree, I wouldn't be thrilled, but to me that alone would certainly not give me pause for great concern. As long it happens infrequently and is not the norm, I would not have a problem with that. I've had that happen at every place that serves dumplings… to me it is just a fact of life. It happens. Strangely for me, the only place where I have not experienced this (yet) is at MD. As long as the vast majority are in tact I take no issue with this. If I were to take issue with this almost every dumpling place mentioned on the Ontario board would similarly be considered iffy, as I've seen dumplings split at virtually every place (good and bad) I've ever dined at.

                                          As for them running out of menu items, while I agree that it is annoying I also consider it as an excellent indicator of freshness. It has happened since Day One at MD, it is not a recent development that would point to a decline in quality. It's ALWAYS been that way there. Again, I admire them for only making what they know they can produce rather than making a greater amount of an inferior product. Many quality BBQ places in the US operate by this same practise. They make what they can, serve it properly (i.e., fresh and moist), and if they run out, so be it. Patrons understand that is the way it is and most would not have it any other way. To me, this is admirable.

                                          1. re: magic

                                            This isn't just a small opening like at most places. These were wrapped totally wrong, not shaped correctly, at all. Thus it was essentially wide open, I've never seen that happen anywhere, really amateurish. The waitress should've spotted it and had the decency to re-fire. It hasn't happened since, this happened the first time I noticed new hires in the kitchen, could've been a trial by error period.

                                            One item I order each time (steamed veg dumpling) was sold out on 3 consecutive occasions. Even the most patient of people would be annoyed by that. If they've run out repeatedly on an item, they should learn to produce more. Basic business skills, they're dropping the ball on it. This has happened during both lunch and dinner (6-7, not late). If you're running out by lunch this tells me you probably didn't even bother to prep any for the day.

                                            I'm just reiterating my experiences. I will go back still, I'm just explaining how they've let me down in the past.

                                            I actually prefer "Northern Dumpling Kitchen" more, but they're serving an entirely different segment of the city.

                                            1. re: aser

                                              Fair enough, aser.

                                              I tool like NDK. Not as much as MD, but that's just me : )

                              2. re: Chocaholic

                                I also tried the Asian Legend on Dundas and thought it was not nearly as good as the one in Richmond Hill on Hwy 7 west of Leslie (I think the plaza is called Commerce Gate). No LCBO license up there though.

                      2. Asian Legend in Chinatown has gone downhill. Asian Legend can sucka my balls.

                        1. My partner is from HK. Normally we go to Hiway 7 when we want to eat, but head to Asian Legend on Dundas when we don't feel up to the drive. Agree that it can be inconsistent, but overall it's reliable and one of the only places he'll eat at downtown. We pass on the dim sum and go for other dishes, so maybe that's why we have fewer complaints. All of the good eating has headed north. Not much left in Chinatown of note anymore.