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Worthwhile Chinese at Legend in Chelsea

September 25, 2012

I really wanted Chinese food on Friday night.  The closest I could find without rolling up my sleeves and turning on the gas was a few blocks down 7th Ave at Legend.  I must have passed by the restaurant at least 20 times over the past two years living in the neighborhood.  I don’t know why but it took half a dozen rave reviews from others for me to finally stop in.

The restaurant was nicely decorated with a small but full bar in the front.  We grabbed a drink (Kettle One soda for MD and Tsing Tao for me) while waiting for a table to open up.  It was a busy Friday night and finally after thirty minutes, we were seated and ready to feast.


The pork wontons in red sesame oil were the perfect starters.  Six wontons with tender skin were tossed in a mildly tangy red sesame dressing.  The minced raw garlic at top added a biting zing, just like how I always mix my wontons when I eat them at home.

Memories of the spicy catfish dish at Mission Chinese had us hankering for more.  There were many choices on the menu at Legend so we went with one that was most recommended, the Chengdu fish and pickled vegetable.  Neither of us were expecting the gigantic bowl of broth that were brought over to our table.  The milky broth was filled with tender filet of white fish and pickled vegetable.  Digging a little deeper we found clear noodles and greens.  The spice level was considerably toned down compared to others that I have had but the broth without a layer of chili floating on top was rich and drinkable.  All it needed was a splash of black vinegar to perk up the dish and we were drinking bowl after bowl of this.

The crispy rice with pork, mushrooms and vegetable saute caught my eyes.  This was not a dish often found in Chinese restaurants here in the US but so familiar to me.  Dry pieces of toasted rice cakes serve was the base and a hot saute were poured over the top.  The rice cakes were perfect when they were coated with the pan sauces yet retaining a crunch.  Both MD and I devoured this quickly at my urgent chides to make sure that the rice did not get too soggy.

And of course, the obligatory sauteed green beans.  The version at Legend was particularly delicious, covered with salty bites of cured olive leaves and only a hint of minced pork.  Even though this is considered another entree, it’s definitely worth ordering to split between two people.

The dishes at Legend was not what I would traditionally order at a Sichuan restaurant but we were completely satisfied with our choices.  Nothing ranked higher than a one star for spice level so I have no real gauge for the depth of spicy that Legend can provide.  Good thing that Legend is only a few blocks away so I can return again soon to try some of the other dishes at this popular Chelsea Chinese spot.

Legend | 88 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10011 | http://legendrestaurant88.com/

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