With Chinese New Year approaching, I was on the hunt for a Chinese restaurant to review as a solo diner in China Town. I read a short, positive review about the restaurant Dumplings’ Legend, in Time Out magazine and later discovered Royalty had visited. Several years ago, the Duchess of Cornwall tried her hand at making steamed buns here. I was eager to stop by…
Dumplings’ Legend, China Town
Dumplings’ Legend, 15-16 Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JE
China Town is a bustling area decorated with lanterns, filled with restaurants, Chinese supermarkets and crowds of people, a mix of locals and tourists. Dumplings’ Legend is situated in the heart of China Town and I couldn’t wait to try the renowned Xiao Long Bao they are famous for!
The Dining Area
Dumplings’ Legend is a large, brightly lit restaurant with an open, welcoming entrance and waiting area. Minimalist in style but with busy staff, chattering diners and loud Chinese music playing, a vibrant atmosphere is created.
The red and white clothed tables provide a striking contrast to the black, covered chairs. A large mirror decorated with colourful lanterns is positioned on one wall, reflecting the image of the open kitchen area, where you can watch the chefs prepare the dishes behind a glass screen.
The toilets are located upstairs and you can view a wonderful fishtank on the way up! As I approached the toilets, I was aware of a strong smell of bleach. The cleaners’ rubber gloves were beside the basins and the floor was soaking wet. There was no visible signage to warn people of this, so that was a little surprising.
I was shown to my table and immediately brought a pot of steaming hot tea and asked if I would like to order a drink from the bar.
A paper menu and a pen is provided so you can place a tick beside your chosen dishes. These can be selected from the accompanying menu with pictures which also offer additional appetisers. There is a good selection of dim sum available including steamed, grilled, fried and dessert varieties. Prices start from £3.50. In addition there are stock soups that cost £4.50 and rice and noodle dishes ranging from £2.60-£11.50.
I ordered a portion of seaweed to start. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best! Usually crispy with a combination of salty and sweet flavours, on this occasion I couldnt really taste either. It wasn’t very crunchy either..
The second appetiser I ordered was the fried chicken with salt and pepper. It was very chewy and lacked flavour so I was pleased to have the sweet chilli dip to add some!
Finally the spicy pork xiao-long bao were served. The steam was rising from the basket as they arrived. The dough from these bell shaped parcels was soft and delicate. Once bitten into, the spicy soup surrounding the succulent pork spills out. They were absolutely incredible.
Staff at Dumplings’ Legend were fast and efficient. I noticed one waitress running several times! Food and drink arrived promptly. However, once the food was served they were inattentive. I was never asked if everything was OK with my meal or offered any further drinks.
When the bill arrived, I noticed I had been charged for the tea. I asked for this to be removed as it is not my preferred drink and I hadnt ordered it. This was dealt with swiftly.
Would I Return?
With so many places to eat in China Town, I would rather try somewhere else before returning unfortunately, even thought the xiao-long bao were outstanding. My reasons are as follows…
- The smaller tables in the restaurant were too close together in my opinion which as a solo diner made me feel self-conscious
- The staff were inattentive
- The toilets were soaking wet without appropriate signage
- The appetisers lacked flavour
- Tea was served without being offered and then charged to the bill
Suggested Further reading for London restaurants and things to do in London that I recommend…