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Jul 19, 2011 07:06 PM

Legend - extremely disappointing meal

My first visit to Legend was really good - I mean really good. Loved all of the dishes we ordered.

Went back tonight with 3 others. Maybe one dish that we liked, the rest were pretty bad. The meal was pretty bad overall.

I hesitate to go back, that's how bad it was, even though my first meal there was so good.


88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

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  1. i really like your posts and we have similar tastes in restaurants but really? legend was BAD? ive been going 2x a month for 5 months now and while i need to try some new dishes as some stuff is getting old...i would never say it was bad.

    care to elaborate?

    1. I think you need to give some details about what was bad about your meal. I have eaten there numerous times and get delivery often and never had a bad meal. Sometimes I wish it were a bit spicier but everything is always very tasty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rrems

        What was bad was the food. Dish after dish. Way, way too salty, everything out of balance, just really not good. Things were plenty spicy, but the dishes were really just almost all bad. Even the dandan noodles, which I liked the first time, were bad. One rabbit dish we ordered - the pieces of rabbit were actually FROZEN.

        1. re: gutsofsteel

          i've been there 3 times now...the first time was wonderful (far and away the best kung pao chicken i've had in NYC, just like back in Chengdu) and delicious cold cucumber...the second time was AWFUL (Chengdu shrimp was inedible: old-tasting, hardly any seasoning at all, hard/stringy asparagus stumps; the same cold cucumber dish only this time too salty)...the third time i got the kung pao chicken again and it was merely average...

          i think they rotate chefs a lot...i might chance it again, but the second visit was so bad that i'll likely hesitate...

      2. I'm going to back gutsofsteel up on this one. I have definitely had bad meals at or from Legend. I agree on the oversalting criticism. My bigger criticism, though, is that dishes we have tried (mostly ma la dishes) often rely on spice for flavor. When you look past the spice, flavors are not well developed at all and you can tell that ingredients used are not high quality.

        I really dislike panning a restaurant, but I've tried it so many times and have had enough bad or mediocre meals there that I feel comfortable saying that it's overrated here on Chowhound. I'm excited that they are serving the kinds of dishes they are serving, because they can be difficult to find elsewhere. But their execution of many dishes (not just the non-Sichuan ones) has not actually been at a very high level in my experience.

        3 Replies
          1. re: scoopG

            I didn't have a problem so much with the level of spice (i.e. in your kung pao ji ding) as the lack of other flavors. A lot of our dishes came extremely spicy hot. In that respect, we've not found to food to be dumbed down.

            1. re: scoopG

              Well, it might be overrated, after all. I heard people compare it to Xiao La Jiao. I am all for that little game.

              I really enjoyed their cumin lamb: it was up to the standards of XLJ. Water-cooked fish was in the same league. Never had a chance to try their (very popular) hotpot: that could wait until October.

              Other than that... what else? They narrowly passed my Dou Miao test, well below Sichuan Gourmet. My conclusion is: the kitchen is uneven, you need some good luck.

          2. I hadn't been in about two weeks, and you scared me enough that I hurried back to try it again. I went twice over the last three days, and I feel like I ate pretty darn well. Right up front I will agree that consistency is not their strong suit. Nonetheless, I rarely feel like a dish was made unsatisfactorily - just that there are several different chefs who have different visions and are not using common recipes.

            Szechuan pickled vegetables - I was hoping for a mixed platter, but it was all some sort of turnip/radish. Very refreshing, but basically just a sour vinegar flavor. Very simple.

            Pork with garlic sauce (cold app) - Hands down the best version of this I have ever had. The pork was cooked just the right amount, the sauce was well balanced between soy, chili, and vinegar, and the meat was artistically arranged on top of delicate slices of lightly pickled cucumber, elevating the complexity of the whole dish.

            Bean curd with chopped green onion - Perfectly nice and refreshing. I can see that some people would find it salty, but personally I love the salty allium kick on top of the mild creamy tofu.

            Ma po tofu - A very good rendition. The best? Not definitively, but I wouldn't instantly rule it out either. It tilts more towards the black bean and garlic, and less towards the chili pepper. Plenty of sichuan peppercorns.

            Ma po tofu with fish - I love this combination. I think that it really highlights some of the textural similarities between fish and tofu, while at the same time contrasting them as veichles for the ma po sauce. My only complaint here is that this (and only this) felt like sort of a stingy portion.

            Chinese broccoli with garlic - This made very happy because the garlic was really ramped up. I generally prefer my greens to have a little extra flavor.

            Ginger and scallion lo mein - This was the only truly disappointing dish I had. Although it had plenty of ginger and scallion, the noodles were all wrong. Not lo mein noodles, not any kind of Chinese noodle. I'm almost positive they were just linguini.

            Chengdu fish with pickled vegetables - This dish is always wonderful to me. It tends to arrive late in the meal and I'm never still hungry enough to fully appreciate it. Some day I'll go and have enough discipline to order this and only this...

            Fried lamb with cumin - Perfectly decent. Not as mutton-y as the one from Grand Sichuan on 7th ave (I like it mutton-y).

            Dry spicy tasty diced chicken with ginger and peanut - Another dish I'm always happy to see. In those first few minutes out of the wok I name it as a serious contender to Amazing 66's roast chicken for best Chinese chicken dish in the city.

            gutsofsteel: I really do trust and respect your opinion tremendously (I know, I know; lurk much?), but I would urge you to give it another chance. Try some of the fish dishes and some of the wok-seared dishes. Stick to the Sichuan menu areas, and I would say generally avoid shellfish (both lobsters and prawns have turned out poorly for me in the past).

            88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

            4 Replies
            1. re: bworm42

              It's not surprising that their ginger-scallion lo mein was disappointing, as I think of that as a Cantonese dish.

              I would like to back up the others that are saying the restaurant deteriorates when the regular chef is off. We experienced that once, and the food was by no means terrible, but was definitely off a level or two and different.

              1. re: bworm42

                We did stick to the Sichaun dishes, and we did have fish. Not good.

                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  Sorry to hear this, since I trust your taste. Maybe that's what happens when you go without me? :-) At any rate, in the interests of science, we're going to have to go back soon. Given their reliance on their recruited chef for this place, I really hope he was just away or having a very bad day.

                  1. re: Steve R

                    It was a shame since I brought 3 people, having touted it as some of the best Szechuan food in NYC, and most of the dishes were clunkers. Argh.

                    Yes, must go back, because the first meal was so good.