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Oct 16, 2010 12:52 PM

Dumpling Legends, Chinatown, London

A xiao3 long2 bao1/"little basket dumpling" aka "soup dumpling" place on Gerrard Street, where Harvest used to be. I believe it's part of the same group that owns Leong's Legends & Empress of Sichuan etc...

The xlb were very good, reminiscent of the ones at Leong's Legends back when they opened. Thin, tender, but slightly resilient skins; a slightly thick topknot, medium about of broth within. Crab version had generous amounts of crabmeat that were fairly sweet, supported by pork beneath. The sichuan version had a tiny spicy kick to it, with a mild citrusy angle from a hint of what I thought might be sichuan peppercorns. Flavours were good. The strip of ginger should have been more finely slivered.

Solid rendition of stir fried glass noodles (dong1 fen3) with bean sprouts, minced pork, scallions and (best part) crispy dried prawns. The glass noodles could have been more chewy, but were otherwise fine.

Bitter melon stir fried with garlic and salted fish was fine, but the salted fish should probably be more finely diced, rather than served as big salty chunks.

2 baskets of xlb, the glass noodles and bitter melon came to ~£25. Xlb were the best of what we tasted. Worth going for xlb; wondering what the other dumplings are like.

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  1. This sounds good. Is it a true dim sum place? What can you tell me about the room? Are there carts? What time did you go? Ratio of Europeans to Asians? Etc.
    Thanks in advance.

    5 Replies
    1. re: steve h.

      It's not a dim sum place - xlb is a Shanghainese dish that would be separate from the Cantonese dim sum traditions, even though it's been adopted by many Cantonese places. The remainder of the menu seemed rather Taiwanese/Southern Fujian, with perhaps overlapping quite a bit with Leong's Legends. (I wished they made Shanghainese pan-fried dumplings/shen1 jian1 bao1)

      The room seemed pretty big, in basic white, and of interest is a window to the kitchen showing them making xlb. There are no carts; we had dinner there and there seemed to a mix of diners typical of any place in Chinatown.

      Hope to hear additional impressions from yourself and other hounds!

      1. re: limster

        They have dim sum during the day, we were there today

        1. re: t_g

          Dim sum as in Cantonese dim sum? Is the menu similar to Leong's Legends dim sum menu (I vaguely recall it was weekend lunch only at Leong's).

          1. re: limster

            yeah the menu's similar to the leong's one (iirc) except there were more varieties of dumpling

            1. re: t_g

              Forgot to ask, what did you get and did you like it?

    2. Thanks for this write up. I love xlb. I wish they did a mix of pork and crab like at Joe's Shanghai in NYC but I look forward to trying out the Sichuan variety

      3 Replies
      1. re: thecriticalcouple

        i think they might do a mix of pork and crab...

        1. re: thecriticalcouple

          The ones we had were a mix of crab and pork. It's not going to be like Joe's Shanghai's version though -- from what I've read, Joe's rendition is different from the traditional Shanghainese version, and Dumpling Legends follows a more classical path. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4341...

          1. re: limster

            I also lived in Shanghai for a little while and agree that the dumplings at Joe's are not traditional but they are my favourite. Think I will give Dumpling Legends a try on Wed.

        2. thanks for the descriptions...and since Emperess of Sichuan has become my go-to/default place in Chinatown, i like that DL has the same owner...

          when i lived in Shanghai i lived here:


          for about 8 months, and homemade xlb were served for breakfast about once/week...which pretty much spoiled me, and i haven't been thrilled by xlb anywhere else since -- but DL sounds nice, and bitter melon is also one of my fav foods -- i've never had the preparation w/ salted fish but i want/plan to try it there...

          re: the glass noodle dish, there is another Shanghainese glass noodle dish made w/ chicken/duck liver, that i've only seen in SH -- the richness of the liver coats the noodles in a really succulent way...curious if you've seen/eaten this dish anywhere...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Simon

            Haven't had that specific Shanghainese dish you mentioned. The glass noodle in the dish is of the dong1 fen3 variety, which is made (I think) from mung bean flour -- a Southern Fujian dish. Quite a bit of the menu looks Taiwanese/Southern Fujian to me a la Leong's Legends. Love to hear more reports, to get a better idea of what this place is like.

            1. re: limster

              cool...i'll try DL sometime in the next couple weeks...

              i had the duck-liver/glass-noodle dish at the hallowed Grape in SH (not one of my fav places overall as it's a bit of a bland place, but i returned there a couple times for that dish and because they serve wine by the glass)...

          2. Thanks Limster. Went there last night and was also impressed by the delicate skin and the sweetness of the crabmeat. Did not quite have the oomph of flavour that some restaurants in asia deliver but still pretty good.
            Also tried some sichuan wontons which displayed the same lightness of touch from the kitchen.
            Steamed pork dumplings were less impressive and just bland.
            I liked the sweet potato fries in salted duck egg yolk batter. The potatoes might have benefitted from being a little bit softer/fluffier inside (it had a slight crunch) but it was tasty nonetheless. Mind you, I am addicted to anything with salted egg yolk batter!

            1 Reply
            1. re: sikop4t

              Cool -- good to have additional reports -- need to try the sweet potato fries, they sound good.

            2. Do you think we'd have to book a table on a Saturday night or can one just drop in? I ask because friends from the States are in London this week, and I'm trying to come up with a dinner they might enjoy. .. as if there aren't a lot of choices. :-) I'll definitely try it one lunchtime - thanks for the tip.

              2 Replies
              1. re: zuriga1

                We dropped in on a saturday evening ~6:30pm and waited ~10mins.