Asian Legend in Ann Arbor
Asian Legend advertises itself as a Taiwanese snack food place, and it certainly has a lot of it. The good part is that the food is all pretty tasty.
The restaurant is right next to the original Cottage Inn on Williams. Kind of an indescript location, the restaurant is long and narrow.
You order on copies of the menu a la dim sum places. We got the oyster omelette, the fried tofu, the salt and pepper chicken, the squid stew, the onion pancake roll stuffed with beef, and the Taiwanese fried rice noodles.
The oyster omelette is a nostalgia order, this is very Taiwanese. The omelette is made with eggs and a rice starch gurel. The oysters are added on top as well as a red, sweet sauce. This version was so-so, nothing really special, but emotionally satisfying.
The fried tofu was a substitute, we wanted the fried stinky tofu, but they were out. This version with the fresh tofu was trmendous. The outside was crispy and the inside almost liquid like, the contrasting texture was what did the trick. The sauce is integral tot he experience since tofu has almost no flavor by itself, the sauce was an excellent complement.
The salt and pepper chicken was a real revelation. The chocken was breaded and fried a la salt and pepper squid. The revelation came from the addition of the fried basil that gave the fried chicken wings a nice and deep basil flavor. I loved it.
The squid stew was very flaorful and had a nice depth to the satay taste. The squid could have been more tender though.
The onion pancake rolled with stewed slices of beef combined two of my favorite dishes. The texture and oniony aroma of the pancake combined with the savory and softness of the beef, add that together you have a very excellent treat. The taiwanese rice noodle was a miss though. The ground beef sauce wasn't very flavroful the ric enoodles was nice though.
If you are Chinese, they will give you the Taiwanese dimsum menu, which has all kinds of noodles and rice and soups, if you're anglo, ask for the menu. Since this restaurant is in the middle of campus, they are catering to the uneducated anglo student palate as well as the Chinese grad student palate. It is a nice fun place to go to and adds a nice complement to T. K. Wu's at just a block away.
Thanks for the post. I've walked by there since it's opening but wondered if it was like all the other chinese places around campus that cater to the meat n' potatoes crowd. Do we really need more Orange Chicken? Anyway, I'll have to check it out now.
I've also been there with Asian friends and liked it so far. Enjoyed the salt-and-pepper chicken, and the steamed watercress was a characteristic Asian vegetable. Also tried the pig ear! It's sliced very thin, like prosciutto; the texture is somewhat rubbery but somehow not in a disagreeable way.
Between this place, Saigon Garden, and the four Korean joints, you can now do pretty well for common Asian dishes in the U-M campus area. There are also several OK sushi bars (Totoro is my pick), and No Thai!, while not authentic, is quick, tasty in a simple way, and well thought-out.
Thanks for the thorough review. My wife and I have really taken a liking to Asian Legend. Neither of us is Chinese, but we always order off the Chinese menu. The waitstaff is really good about describing things as well as filling us in on the specials that appear on the whiteboard at the front of the restaurant.
We really enjoy the onion pancake rolled with beef. Home style tofu is delicious, a wonderfull flavorful brown sauce over an assortment of vegetables and tofu that has a beautifully delicate texture. The lamb with basil is usually absolutely amazing, but the basil can sometimes be a bit overpowering. Pork with green onions is a nice simple dish with a light sauce.