Eat: Review of Dumplings Legend, Soho, London (and THAT Michelin-starred dumpling)

I must admit, I have become a bit of a dumpling snob in recent years.  In particular the Xiao Long Bao.

First introduced to me in Seoul, I fell in love with this beautiful soup dumpling after a visit to Los Angeles, and my brother took me to a place called Din Tai Fung.  I was warned there would be a long wait and while it moved relatively quickly, we finally got a table after about 30 minutes.

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Let me tell you, it was WELL worth the wait!  We sat down and placed our orders for a some rice, dumplings, and the famous Xiao Long Bao.

Here is the Wikipedia definition of Xiao Long Bao, for those of you new to the world of dumplings

My first mistake was being too eager…I literally burned my mouth and nearly spat the whole thing out!  To me that is the height of rudeness so i tried my best to keep it in and swished a bit of cold water to neutralise what felt like boiling liquid in my mouth.

Once the initial burn (and embarrassment) had worn off, I had another go.

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The taste was…sublime.  Soft light wrapping encasing a perfectly seasoned pork sup inside.  From that moment I was hooked.

Ever since, I have always been on the lookout for these types of dumplings.

The best one I have ever had was at the Singaporean branch of Din Tai Fung

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This Singaporean branch of the original Taiwanese restaurant is immensely popular and even though we went after the lunch rush, we still had to wait about 20 minutes.

When we returned to London I almost forgot about my dumpling love.  That is until I read a Timeout article that mentioned a “Michelin Star” dumpling in London- a cool collab between Dumplings Legend and Michelin starred restaurant Pied à Terre.

The Michelin star dumpling in question was none other than the Xiao Long Bao.

“Amazing!  Have you heard this Bae?”  I shoved my phone into his face so he could see why I had that crazy look in my eye again.

And so we went.  We called to make a reservation and was told they don’t take them so headed down there just after the lunch rush (about 2:30pm).

Dumplings Legend is based in China Town – right on the Gerrard street.

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It is not hard to miss – big lettering outside, and as you walk in you see the glass room enclosing all the dumpling makers we saw a similar site in Din Tai Fung in Singapore.

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We had about a 10 minute wait and then were sat and told to place our orders using the supplied sheet.

The ambiance is ok – quiet and not too clinky – which is rare for a restaurant in Chinatown.

Bae asked about THOSE dumplings and we were told they are not in the regular menu – so you do have to request them specially.

We ordered a few more things like Char Siu Buns, Prawn and Chive dumplings, Lotus leaf Rice wrap and some other items

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Above: Quail Egg and Pork Dumpling

20171022_144542Our spread

20171022_142539This is Cheung Fung with deep fried dough but basically are fried doughnut strips encased in dumpling skin that come with a sweet gravy – delicious

20171022_144617Prawn and Chive dumplings

I also had simply the best sesame prawn toast ever!20171022_142527

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The main event came after a short wait.  You get 3 Dumplings for £9 which is very steep.  However, it was Michelin starred right?

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I gingerly picked one up and put it on my spoon, then placed a couple of slivers of ginger and a splash of the supplied vinegar (essential when eating Xiao Long Bao)

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I have to say that it was such an anticlimax.  I got an overwhelming taste…of..bacon?  The smoked eel had an definite smokiness that overpowered the whole dumpling and the delicate flavour of the foie gras was totally lost.

The casing was a bit dry and I would have preferred a thinner skin.  I understand that there is a process of wrapping it numerous times, but I have seen it done with better finesse.

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Overall I would not recommend spending that much money for it.  Perhaps if you have never had a soup dumpling, you would enjoy it, but for those who know what the taste of Xiao Long Bao is SUPPOSED to be, there are plenty of better tasting dumplings on their menu worth trying.

Also £3 a dumpling! Gimme a break!

If you do want to see what the fuss is about, here is a link to the Timeout article.

If you just want some good dumplings in London, here are a few of my top picks

Hakkasan (££££) for those who want to splurge, this is Chinese cooking at it’s best.  Uplifted and elevated flavours combine with traditional ingredients to make for a wonderful and gourmet dumpling experience

Yauatcha (£££) light airy space, modern interior, fired dumplings were lovely and light, the Xiao Long Bao was better than average (though skins were a bit thick)

Pearl Liang (££) Bae’s family favourite is based within the Paddington Basin development in Sheldon Square. The restaurant is dark but smart decor, serves great dim sum and is reasonable prices

New World Chinese Restaurant (££) one of the only, if not THE only restaurant that still serves their dim sum by pushing a cart around and letting diners pick up what they want to eat.  My personal favourite and a London Chinatown institution. Experience the trolley before it’s gone

Trip of a Lifetime: Day 25 – All good things have to come to an end

Wow what a whirlwind this trip has been! I’m sad that it’s our last day and we want to make the most of it, but unfortunately I am feeling under the weather. So after Bae kindly goes and gets breakfast in bed for me in the pouring rain (I know! he’s definitely a keeper!) we wait for the rain to stop (that would definitely make it more tolerable) and say a quick goodbye to our Airbnb hosts before setting off to Centraal station so we can unburden ourselves of our luggage and explore the city some more.  Our flight is not until 9pm, so we have lots of time to relax before getting to the airport.

We finally get back to the flat around 10:30pm, feeling satisfied, exhausted, relieved to be home and sad that it’s over. Well…until the next time!

Total cost for flights for this entire trip was £1200 per person – not bad for 9 flights!  Watch this blog for a later article detailing how I did it!

Keep Tuned in for our future adventures and other travel hacks, tips and scoring the best deals so you can encircle the world without breaking the bank or quitting your job!

 

Day 1: London to LA

So excited I can’t sleep!

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We have been planning this trip for the last year and a bit and the day has finally arrived for take off!

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Thankfully our flight is at a very civilised 1pm which gives us plenty of time to get to the airport and get some breakfast although Bae still got tetchy and picked up a speeding ticket on the Hangar Lane.  Note to self get him one of those speed camera detector for Christmas!

 

Arrived at Gatwick with time to take down a delicious Nando’s grilled chicken meal before braving the long haul airplane food.

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I love to get the wing roulette – living dangerously at lunch

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Mentally preparing for 11 hours 15 minutes sitting in a big flying tube crammed full of my fellow human being…Bae has his eyes open but he is already asleep

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I love these airplane maps…helps to know progress is being made even while I stare at the back of a seat inches from my face

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Possibly the longest flight I have ever been on (that I can remember)

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Benefit of a Samsung S7 camera – taking shots like these from a tiny airplane window

England’s green pastures and pleasant lands…Bae said I started humming Jerusalem

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Getting higher above the ether

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Food:

We were on a Norwegian Airline flight (It was £200 for our LON-LA trip) and as it is considered a lower cost airline,  I didn’t have very high expectations for our food.

The salad was an oriental salad with a bit too much vinegar, but still edible if you are hungry (we were not – in case you missed the Nandos pics),  a sweet and sour chicken with beans and mashed potatoes – hearty and bit on the sweet side but would eat again, and an apple cinnamon pie which I didn’t touch as cinnamon and I are sworn enemies.  Bae said the pastry was more bready and lots of cinnamon, but overall satisfying

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Bae opted for a Kosher meal, which we had heard were supposed to be tastier than the average airplane meal.  Salad was smoked salmon, then a pulses and veggie chilli (bit salty) followed by a piece of cake AND fruit salad.  I recommend doing this if you want more food – like what the planes USED to serve before portion sizes decreased.

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Must be going over Iceland at this point – I love the fact you can see a blue glow over the horizon – is that the ozone layer?

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Having some fun (or going a bit stir crazy)20170516_164339.jpg

Bae bought us an array of neck supports, being long necked humans he had to do some research. In this one we have the Trtl which was purchased for about £20 on Amazon which wraps round the neck and has a brace on one side to support the weight of your head. Bae liked the support but found it hot and not quite as helpful as the Travelrest pillow (red coloured to the left of the shot) which we both used a lot and which work on a different principle. Once you inflate it, you get support all up once side from the waist to your head kind of like when you hug a pillow in bed. Both cost about £20 but the Travelrest is much easier to fold away once it is deflated!

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The reason for the blue tint is because Norweigan has a very cool button on their windows instead of a shutter you close.  Simply press the button (there are 4 options) and it will shade the window from light to completely black – very cool!

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Some more gorgeous pictures of the mountains

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I think this range is maybe the Rockies?

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Approaching Los Angeles!

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Not sure – Is that Big Sur?  Let us know in the comment if you know!

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The one thing I really hate about LA – the traffic and the roads (dangerous – have never seen so many bad and distracted drivers).

Driving back to El Sorreno where my brother and fiancé live after they pick us up from the airport.

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I love these beautiful trees!  My brother said they are Jacaranda trees. Lucky we got to see them in season!

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As the sign says…

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Getting hungry!

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Everywhere in LA is a LONG drive away and traffic (we would realise) can be awful

After being picked up my brother and fiancé who saw how we debilitated we looked after our long haul flight, they took us to a Baby Blues BBQ for a pick me up American-style with massive portions of smoked meat.

Cool ladies bathroom

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Baby Blues BBQ Menu – prices aren’t bad, but food could have been a bit better

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My brother and his beautiful fiancé (now wife and sister to me)!

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A cool looking place to eat with typically large, salty portions, not matched in quality unfortunately. We also tried their mac and cheese which Bae thought was tasteless.  The sweet potato fries were good though.

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After a long day of travelling, we get an early night in preparation for our first real day of holiday!

Tune in tomorrow!