Saturday, March 3, 2012

Legend Bar & Restaurant - Review

Legend Bar & Restaurant - Dude Grade A-
88 7th Ave
Btn 16th and 15th St
New York, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 929-1778

I was in the mood for some Szechuan food and one of my co-workers from Chengdu recommended this place for Szechuan eats. My former go to joint was the great Wu Liang Ye in Midtown, but this place one ups it for me. This place has such a great balance of flavor and the food is pretty spicy, but not spicy enough where you can't taste anything else. I haven't had a WTF moment for chinese food in the states in a long time, but I was pretty blown away by this place.

Our Menu
Dan Dan Noodles Cheng-Du Style *
Solid texture and chew to the noodles and delicious flavor. I dug the Wu Liang Ye version better for the flavor, but the wife loved this a lot.

Beef And Ox Tripe In Chili Sauce **
The wife and I always order this dish and surprisingly a lot of places eff this up. Most places generally add way too much szechuan peppercorn which adds that buzzing sensation on your tongue (not heat, but like a weird chemical reaction). This place does it right and the flavors are so spot on - rich, a little vinegary, a little spicy. Tripe is incredibly tender and flavorful and there's a lot more beef here than you normally see at most restaurants.

Sichuan Cucumber *
Again, we've had this from other places where it's extremely salty, sweet, and too many peppercorns. This is perfectly refreshing - nice and crispy with a little salt and sugar. Perfect accompaniment for the spicy food.

Fried Lambs With Cumin ***
This was a big wtf moment for me. Think crispy chicken parm coating for texture, with tender and insanely flavorful lamb, and seasoned beautifully with cumin, chiles, and chinese celery. It's friggin phenomenal and so addicting. I generally don't like celery, but it's a perfect match here - great texture and almost bright/refreshing flavor.

Chengdu Fish And Pickled Veg ***
The waitress recommended this dish and we indifferently agreed. Man - this was another big wtf moment for me. Fish soup was so rich, yet light and insanely flavorful. Add the pickled veg and chiles and you had a phenomenal broth. The fish also was incredibly fresh, sweet, and perfectly poached. I was at 90% capacity and I still had 2 full bowls of this that made me disgustingly uncomfortable afterwards - still worth it.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (A) – My new go-to Szechuan restaurant. This reminded me of a much more refined version of Thai cuisine hitting all these notes of savory, salty, sour, spicy, and sweet without being overpowering in any of those flavors.
  • Service (B) – Server recommended great dishes for us and the food came out pretty quick. They are busy as hell there, so don't expect smiling faces - it's all business getting you in and out.
  • Atmosphere (C+) – When you first walk in, you are greeted with a crowd of people waiting for the tables hovering over the tiny bar. Not the most relaxing entrance, but you notice more than half of the joint are Chinese people speaking Mandarin which is always a good sign. Much nicer looking place than your standard Chinese joint - nice modern lighting with dark wood floors and bright yellow walls. We got there on a Friday at 7pm with no reservations and we waited 30 minutes before getting a table for 2.
  • Price (A) – $16-20 an entree for phenomenal Szechuan food. 100% worth it in my opinion.
Closing Comments
Like I said, my new go-to restaurant for Szechuan food. Although I still love Wu Liang Ye, heading to Chelsea is much more pleasant than heading to the nightmare that is the theater district.

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