Asian Legend 味香村 (Scarborough)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4452 Sheppard Avenue East
Type of Meal: Dinner

Asian Legend is a chain specializing in Northern Chinese dishes. They’ve been around for over 20 years – likely thanks to their reasonable prices and extensive menu. In my books, they are not known to be the “best” for anything; you can get better Peking duck or stir fried dishes at other places. But, their dishes are consistent and they are always a decent version of it (I have never had a horrible one).

A popular dish is the steamed soup filled dumplings with ground pork ($5.96 for 6). Asian Legend’s is good but eat them quickly as the wrapper can sometimes split if left too long. Each dumplings holds a fair amount of soup and the dough is thin enough.

Their chicken potstickers ($4.95 for four) is a nice change from the typical pork ones. With diced black mushrooms mixed throughout there’s a bit of a contrasting texture. Although it’s not as juicy, the wrapper does seem crispier with a beautiful developed crust.

My aunt likes the rolled onion pancake with sliced beef ($5.95; two orders shown below). Personally, I prefer the green onion pancake plain. Normally, it’s pan fried so a nice crust develops and contrasts against the soft inside while making the green onion taste more pronounced. Whereas, in the wrap it’s not pan fried and thus seems a little plain. Plus, I find the beef a bit dry – not my favourite but plenty of people order it.

With a variety of cold appetizers to choose from, with larger groups we order the preserved pork ($6.95). The meat is shredded, well salted and then mixed into a savoury gelatin.  Once cooled and solidified it is sliced. It can be eaten plain or dipped into the Chinese vinegar which accompanies it. I prefer the version where the pork is compressed on the bottom and the gelatin is on top (forming two layers), but Asian Legend’s isn’t bad either.

The freshly made Taiwanese street-style deep fried tofu with garlic sauce ($3.95; two orders shown below) was delicious. I know, you may be thinking … tofu really? But it’s the combination of the crispy crust, soft airy inside and flavourful sweet soy sauce that makes it great for snacking on.

Like most places, the Peking duck ($34.95) is served two ways. With plenty of wraps (about fourteen), the main dish is wrapping the crispy pieces of skin into a thin flour crepe. I like to slather on the hoisin sauce, cucumbers and green onions, while others may like it plain. Asian Legend’s Peking duck could use more flavour as I found the skin and meat by itself was rather bland.

The second dish is simply the remaining carcass chopped into pieces; unfortunately, not the most photogenic. There is the option to pay $8.95 and have the second dish as lettuce wraps, sautéed duck with vegetables or as a soup but we prefer to keep it simple. Plus, since we also ordered moo shu pork, no more wrapping dishes were required.

The moo shu pork ($10.95) arrives with six pancakes ($0.60/each for extra wraps). It’s one of my favourite dishes from Asian Legend. There’s a great combination of crunchy textures from the black fungus, napa cabbage and bamboo shoots. Plus, the scrambled egg works well at soaking up the various juices. All wrapped into a thin crepe with hoisin sauce this is full of flavour.

We normally don’t order the shredded chicken noodle soup ($7.95) but seemed to be a good choice for my grandmother. The noodles are doughy, soft and soaks in the thick flavourful soup. Simply accompanied with pieces of chicken and Shanghai bok choy it’s decent but not really a must-have dish.

A noodle in soup we order often is the braised beef noodles ($8.95). The dish is aromatic and although the broth looks like simple soy sauce there’s a much richer taste to it. Asian Legend’s version of this dish is decent and the beef tender and excellent quality. The chunks of pickled preserved vegetables on top are also a nice addition.

If you want a starchy dish try the stir fried Shanghai rice cakes ($10.95). It is traditional yet not normally found outside of Northern Chinese restaurants. The rice cakes are nothing like the light styrofoam version found in the chip aisle, rather they have a soft chewy texture. Stir fried with pork, shrimp, napa cabbage and a light sauce it’s well worth trying.

The Shanghai noodles with seafood ($11.95) is a safe crowd friendly dish. The thick yellow noodles are soft with a slight bite to it. Mixed throughout are crunchy bean sprouts, shrimp, scallop and a simple soy sauce. Asian Legend’s is fine but needs to be cooked longer to develop that wonderful wok essence.

Wanting some vegetables, we order the sautéed water spinach with fermented tofu and shredded chili ($10.95). In my Day and Day Soup review I’ve wrote a bit about this hollow vegetable and condiments if you want a further description. Overall, it’s an average version of the dish and could benefit from more fermented tofu.

If you plan on visiting regularly, their VIP membership ($20) could be a good investment. Valid for a year, it can be used at the time of purchase providing card holders 10% off food items.  Additionally, you earn points that can be used for future purchases. As they were celebrating an anniversary, I even received a coupon for a surprise gift. Now that I’m a “VIP” cardholder, who knows I may be returning more often.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!