Range: $7-$19: | The best mail I’ve received in a long time came today in the form of a menu for a new Chinese restaurant less than a minute’s walk from my place at 140-1169 Pacific Street (near the Target, next to Brown’s Social House). It’s called Legend House and specializes in northern Chinese and Szechuan cuisine. To me, that means lamb, dumplings, blade-sheared noodles (the north) and spicy chili dishes (Szechuan). As much as I like Lucky Gate on Austin, the Urbanspoon rating for which is way too low, that 10 minute drive is a pain for the princess in me, so I was giddy about there being another choice now. Ah, the sweet taste of free market competition.
After scanning the menu and thinking I wanted everything on it, the practical spender in me took over and figured two should do it — for now. Before I had taken a step in the restaurant, I had decided on the Spicy Clear Noodle Salad ($7) and blade-sheared noodles for my Cumin Lamb Stir-fried Noodles ($12). FYI, if you have a peanut allergy, be sure to let them know or ask. The salad’s default form includes peanuts.
When you walk in, you are treated to a view of the kitchen where you can see the chefs preparing. After that brief and pleasant first step, the next step is to do what you go there to do: be seated and eat.
The dining area feels spacious with its high, exposed ceilings. It has a sophisticated yet casual feel. It’s not huge, but not small either probably seating maybe 70 at a time with quite a bit of space for servers (which number 3-4 during dinner time) to still move around and not worry about banging into one another.
I loved their chopsticks. It’s a small thing but it counts and contributes to the dining experience, for sure. I don’t know where they got them, but I’m going to find out.
The first dish to come was the salad. My impression from the picture in the menu was that they would be chewy noodles, but they weren’t. It was more like fragile jelly and you needed to be careful with your chopsticks. Too much pressure and you’d cut the things in two and they’d fall right back into the bowl. I think they might be made with mung bean. Maybe.
With my first taste, I thought of hot-dogs, oddly, and that’s why I liked it, knowing that it was tasty and although not exactly healthy food, probably not as bad for me as hotdogs. I bit into one of the garlic chunks and it felt like water chestnuts but intense. Not sure what they did to that garlic, but it was done well. The sauce was vinegary and a bit spicy. The green onion garnish added an extra layer of flavour and overall it was solid.
Next came the noodles, a good sized portion of chewy noodle goodness mixed in with thinly sliced, cumin-seasoned lamb and julienned green and red peppers plus onion. The peppers were cooked well as they weren’t soft and when you bit into a strip not only the flavour but the retained moisture inside was released. That’s a good sense of timing.
Definitely too much food for one person, this would be about 2.5 meals for an average eater who thinks a Whopper combo is enough food.
It was about prime-time 630 pm. The place was about 75% full. As I sat, more started coming in and by 7:00 pm or so it was full and a lineup began to form. I thought I would get my fill and give others a chance to enjoy themselves. I asked for take-out boxes and the bill. They had automatically given 10% off as a promo for their grand opening, so I didn’t need to tear up the menu I got in my mailbox.
When I first walked in, I thought the man at the front who I also thought might be the/an owner didn’t know much English because he deferred to a waitress to seat me. At the end of the meal, happy with my experience and wanting to speak with him, I asked the waitress if he knew English and she confirmed he did. I went up to pay my bill and we exchanged pleasantries. He introduced himself as Garry and I arranged for an interview to explore how this all came to be. So often we go to restaurants and all we talk about is the food, but what about the back-story, the people behind it all? It all comes from somewhere. I’m going to find out more about this place. Stay tuned! Oh, and check the place out!chinese cuisine, coquitlam, food review, northern chinese cuisine, szechuan cuisine, vancouver