Sunday, August 2, 2009

Asian Legend - Chinese for those that dont know better?

So, this one will be brief. Mom will say that I was picky when it came to Chinese food as a kid, and she must be right as she, well she's mom, and has a better memory than her son with a sieve for a brain (thanks pops). Though this is fact, I have had chopsticks in my hand since I was born, thanks to my parents who made food central in our growing up experience, and diversified so we knew what was available in our great multi-cultural city. It didnt help that out next door neighbours were from HK, so we were exposed to "real" Chinese food growing up.

For about the last 15 years I have been eating at Rol San on Spadina, as my go to place when the craving surfaced. It has never been great and has gone through some serious phases of mediocre, but I do love the Crispy Beef with Honey Ginger Sauce. If it was consistent it would still be my 1st choice, however I felt it was time to find something better.

Suggestions are welcome.

So, one night a few months back a last minute dinner with some friends brought me to Asian Legend on Dundas and 4 ravenous diners descended on this location of the local Chinese food chain. I had heard good things, but from mixed sources so I was apprehensive but starved! We ordered way too much, killed it quickly but with kindness, talked, laughed, and enjoyed. Well, enjoyed if you dont like authentic, but as I said I was starved. Fast forward to a few weeks back, when BFFs were at the North York location in my old hood at Finch and Leslie, where Jerusalem Restaurant was until recently. I had eaten a late lunch, and went to be social but the food was unimpressive as were the communication skills of the servers. male BFF has allergies, and I am not sure that she understood so out came the manager or head waiter so we could clarify - "is there are shrimp, or nuts in anything I will have to stab him with this pen". Clear? Yes, he shouts something to the kitchen that likely was along the lines of "no, you have to make it again, picking out the shrimp isnt ok".

Now, about the food:
1. soup was bland and totally tasteless.
2. noodles were very good but too salty.
3. chicken was over deep fried and the General Tso sauce was more sweet than spicy.
4. pan fried chicken dumplings were delicious.

That gives us a very disappointing second visit.

Shall we try again? Sure, why not, one more for the people in the cheap seats perhaps? My nephew asked me to help choose a place to go for dinner for his 12th birthday, yes thats right, 12, already. His caveat was "I want to go somewhere far downtown uncle Joel, because I want to be out late." Loves it. We went through many choices and different kinds of food, but we always came back to Chinese, so Chinese it is.

The birthday boy, in his glory.

The food at Asian Legend is okay, if you are not looking for authentic Chinese food, and with the crowd we had it needed to be decent North American style food. Nothing was bad, but nothing was great and would cause me to want to return.

Taro and Chicken Spring Rolls

Dumplings with Chicken (There were pan fried ones as well)

The Generals Famous Chicken

Shanghai Style Fried Noodles and Lemon Chicken

So if you are used to eating Chinese food from the mall, I suggest that this would be a step up and to give it a shot. For those who like more authentic, I might skip it unless you have picky people to please.

Feedback and comments are also welcome, if you like Asian Legend or disagree with any of my comments in general, please tell me why.

Peace, Love, and Ice Cream.


  1. HI your BF here, you need to stop comparing everything you eat to your authentic James Grey neighbours, nothing will beat it. When I am too lazy to drive downtown and look for parking I like going to Asian Legend in north york. I along with you ate at Rolsan, however the last three times saying it was mediocre is actually being kind. Asian Legend is great, and easy and affordable to all. Also, if there are more Asians than Caucasians in a chinese food restaurant at one time you know it will be good. Right?

  2. Why shouldnt I compare it? I guess I just need to eat in Markham, and Scarborough and skip downtown Chinese all together?