Monday, August 20, 2012

Best Taiwanese Restaurant in London

Stumbled onto this narrow restaurant just off the main drag of London's Chinatown.  I wouldn't have given it a second look if I hadn't had to step off the kerb and almost get run over by by a cab, all because the sidewalk in front of the restaurant - simply named Leong's Legend II - was packed with loyal diners lining up to get in.  I tried the amateur critic's first line ploy of peering in the window to see what the patrons were having but it was too fogged up with the steam from the dim sum baskets and hot water cauldrons to see anything noteworthy.  But since I didn't really have any concrete dinner plans that evening, I joined the queue, and after 15 minutes of inching towards the hostess stand, I was directed to my table up a series of extremely squeezy stairwells all the way to the third and highest floor.

Leong's braised pork belly...possibly worth the flight to London alone.
The restaurant's interior was like something out of a low budget Shaolin movie set, with clunky stools and rugged wooden tables with uneven legs, set against gray stone walls and ceilings.  Service was brisk and efficient; it was amazing to witness the wait staff deftly maneuvering their way around the extremely cramped space.  Spartan lightbulbs over each table gave a distinctly impoverished Godfather vibe to the place but I liked how they illuminated the dishes on the table.  And man, those dishes were really something else.  Aside from the ubiquitous dim sum fare which were available all day and evening (the siu long bau and crispy shredded turnip were stellar,) there were also "Leong's Specials" to consider: ginger chicken with rice wine and sesame oil in soup, taro and preserved vegetables vermicelli soup with minced pork, and my personal favourite (see picture below) - the divine braised pork belly in dark soy sauce with rice.  Everything was so good that I did a first and returned 24 hours later to satiate my new cravings for Leong's home-made authentic Taiwanese goodness.   Dinner #2 did not disappoint either.  Am hoping I won't have to wait too long to come back for #3.

Leong's Legend II - 26-27 Lisle Street, Chinatown, London. Telephone +44 207 734 3380
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