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Spicy Legend, new Sichuanese on Clement -- anybody tried it? [San Francisco]

You can't be too thin, too rich, or have too many Sichuanese restaurants.

Spicy Legend replaced Pho Garden (it of the tacky "Pho Challenge") recently. The early Yelp notices are inconclusive, but suggest it has a pretty standard Sichuan menu with a few takeout sops like Mongolian beef and walnut prawns.

Has anyone checked it out?

Spicy Legend
2109 Clement (22nd-23rd)

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  1. Tried it today.

    Lackluster pickled cabbage and excellent sweet peanuts with dried anchovies came with the table.

    Dan dan noodles (special order without meat). Chewy noodles, tasty sauce. Quite good, and would get again if I was in the neighborhood and looking for noodles (photo shows them half eaten, btw).

    Braised fish filet with tofu was a big miss, though. Watery and tasteless sauce, tasteless fish, topped with a heap of ginger and a layer of a mixture of chilis and tomato, which was just weird.

    I was told that the chef is from Henan province and was formerly at Chilli House on Clement (the Richmond outpost of Z&Y).

    9 Replies
    1. re: davidg1

      Thanks for the report. I've been contemplating heading there for the dad dan noodles myself (fodder for my noodle blog). Do you have any idea if the noodles are house made (even if not hand-pulled)?

      I wonder if there's any Henan touches to the menu. I've been longing for some Henan-style lamb noodles.

      That makes at least 5 Sichuanese restaurants spawned directly or indirectly by Z&Y.

      1. re: soupçon

        Peanuts with anchovies sounds like a nice and way to start the meal. Does any other place do that?

        Soupçon, are you referring to Chili House and that chain that includes the Pot Sticker or are there others?

        1. re: hyperbowler

          Yes. Pot Sticker was taken over by a Z&Y defector who subsequently took over Uncles and established at least one out-of-town outlet (Newark?).

          Z&Y spawned Chili House and a Chili House defector is Chef at Spicy Legend.

          1. re: soupçon

            Here's the biz card I picked up from Newark Cafe in January that showed part of the count related to Pot Sticker at that time. Don't forget Grand Hot Pot Lounge in SF.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I forgot about the San Mateo place, so that makes at least 6.

              I believe Grand Hot Pot Lounge is owned by the Man Kee people.

              1. re: soupçon

                The manager (owner?) at Grand Hot Pot Lounge is the one who told me about his other place, Newark Cafe. He said GHPL's chef worked at Z&Y.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  The name on the Grand Hot Pot Lounge liquor license is Louis Kuang, who also is the principal for Man Kee Cafe (文記茶餐廳)(now called Finn's Cafe) on Broadway in SF Chinatown.


                  Newark Cafe has, or at least had, the same name (文記茶餐廳) in Chinese.

                  D&A Cafe on Clement, Washington Cafe on Washington St (SF Chinatown), Skyline Cafe (Daly City) and 8th Street Cafe in Oakland Chinatown are all 文記茶餐廳 in Chinese. They have similar signage and menus, so I assume they are all connected.

                  Washington Cafe now has hotpot on the second floor. I don't know about any of the others having hotpot.

                  [Edited to add:

                  Looking through the Yelp reviews of Newark Cafe chronologically I gather there was a remodel and a menu switch from a Cantonese menu likened to Oakland's 8th Street Cafe to a Sichuan menu in midsummer 2013. Maybe there's some kind of alliance between the Man Kee group and the Pot Sticker group now.]

                  1. re: soupçon

                    And the connection to Pot Sticker which is also printed on the same business card?

                    Newark had been a Hong Kong cafe similar to those you list for the Man Kee group previously, then it turned Sichuan.

                    1. re: soupçon

                      Yes, the owner at GHPL told me she (or her family) owns D&A.

      2. The menu doesn't have the same layout as at Z & Y / Chili House, but there's a ton of content overlap. The only major absence I noticed was the lack of fish with housemade noodles. I wouldn't know a Henan dish if it kicked me, but no dishes out of the ordinary Sichuan et al. caught my eye.

        Couple's delight

        Fresh fish fillet boiled in house spicy sauce (AKA water boiled fish) : excellent. Fresh tasting fish and lots of green Sichuan peppercorns in the liquid.

        Lamb chops with house special spicy sauce: This is like a lamb version of Chongqing style chicken--- fatty and crisp lamb pieces the size of chicken wings with the flavor of lightly charred red chilies. I'm more keen on pork fat, but if you like lamb fat or lamb bacon, you should seek this out.

        House special boiled cabbage: The server was pushing me towards another cabbage dish, but I got this one because she looked dreamy eyed when I asked her about it. This kind of beige gravy'd dish turned out not to be my kind of comfort food, but it was a contrast to all the bold Sichuan flavors.

        Bitter melon with honey (not pictured) : another table was kind enough to offer me some of this-- it's not on the menu. The bitterness was tamed, leaving a cool and crunchy melon for the light coating of honey to sweeten up. Yi Yuan does this dish too--- the one time I tried in November was so bitter I couldn't stomach it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hyperbowler

          I've had the cold raw bitter melon with honey at Grand Hot Pot Lounge.

        2. I gave it a try two weeks ago. The complimentary peanuts tinged with star anise and brown sugar are wonderful, the pao cai, not so much.

          Starting with the cold dish, mouthwatering chicken (not sure how its listed on the menu), $8.95. I had wondered why it was pricier than the other cold appetizers, and soon found out that its a half-chicken. Poached to tenderness and still red at the bone, the chicken bathed in garlicky and mala spicy sauce was as salivating as any.

          House cold noodles, $6.95, was presented attractively on a red glass plate. When asked how spicy I wanted this, I requested just a little. This went way beyond that to incendiary. Noodles had nice chew but I couldn't eat much of it.

          Final dish was cumin lamb, $11.95, and a quite different version than I've had elsewhere. This had no chiles and the cumin seed was whole rather than ground. I liked the lack of grit. Whole seed made for some intense bites of cumin flavor and extra fragrance amplified by the aromatic cilantro leaves. The lamb was shaved thin and tender, but lacking the searing I would prefer. The dish had a minimum of "filler". The onions were cooked on point to bring out their natural sweetness yet retain juicy crunch. This was a terrific stir-fry.

          At 7pm, there was only one other party in the place.