CLOSED: Szechuan Legend 半畝園 (Toronto)

Gather a group of ten before heading to Szechuan Legend as their set meals, especially on weekdays when they are even cheaper, are an amazing deal. The $198 weeknight non-spicy menu had enough variety to satisfy.

Of course, you’ll get your seafood fix with a medium four pound lobster done “fishermen wharf” style (essentially deep fried and then stir fried with garlic and chilies). It’s a nice change from the traditional ginger and onion and adds a spicy salty kick to the lobster. Afterwards, the tomalley is used in the fried rice, giving it a sticky and rich (albeit slightly fishy) essence.

The crustacean parade continue with two Dungeness crabs simply done with ginger and onion. Both seafood dishes are decent – not overcooked and incorporates enough seasoning without overpowering the seafood.

Although it’s not really Szechuan, a large steamed golden tilapia, is also included to counteract all the fried dishes. Again, the cooking time is bang on so that the fish flakes away from the bone without the texture turning tough.

Other seafood dishes completing the meal includes a Peking style sea cucumber – a sea creature that despite its name is not actually vegetarian. Normally, I’m not a fan of its soft blubbery texture, but at Szechuan Legend it’s chopped into small pieces and quickly stir fried (rather than braised) keeping them crunchy. Lastly, a plate of vermicelli noodles containing a fair amount of seafood and vegetables; it could use more salt as it’s colourful but tepid.

A favourite for my family is Peking duck, so we were in luck when the set menu included one done three ways. Traditionally, the highlight is the slices of skin cocooned in flour wrappers. They’re fine at Szechuan legend – the skin crispy (to the point the duck may have been flash fried) and the wrappers impossibly thin. Yet, the duck needed more seasoning as without the hoisin sauce, it’d be pretty bland.

On the other hand, the lettuce wraps and duck bone soup arguably steals the show. Large chunks of duck meat is reserved for the stir-fried lettuce wrap mixture and the Styrofoam rice noodles are left out in favour of crunchy vegetables and water chestnuts. There’s little meat within the duck bone soup, but the restaurant adds soft cubes of tofu and quickly boiled napa cabbage to make it hearty. A hot boil of soup is a nice toasty way to end off the meal.

The sole vegetable dish included with the set meal is stir fried baby bok choy with shrimp… boring and rather unforgettable compared to everything else. For this reason, we added an order of the stir fried lotus root ($8.99), which has a great crunchy refreshing texture.

The execution on the crispy half chicken ($8.99) varies. Since we had a larger table, we ordered a full chicken and each half arrived separately. The first looked man-handled and was starting to border on dry, while the second better but the breast a tad undercooked. Even so, we all agreed the sweet and spicy sauce accompanying the chicken was fantastic and helped mask the flaws.

In need of more starches, the seafood fried rice cakes ($8.99) were a nice change from noodles. The chewiness of the rice cakes pairs nicely with the crunchy black fungus; pork slivers, shrimp and napa cabbage completes the dish.

On both visits, dessert consisted of red bean soup. The restaurant’s rendition incorporates what looks and smells like Baby’s Breath. Given a limited amount of sugar was used in the dessert, there was little flavour to hide the floral taste. Nonetheless, despite tasting strange, the red bean soup did have a digestive effect after a heavy meal.

Even without the lower pricing, I’d suggest visiting on a weeknight. The restaurant is generally understaffed so service tends to be slow even when the dining room isn’t full. All the same, Szechuan Legend is a respectable restaurant; for the most part, the food is tasty despite being affordable. You’ll leave full and satisfied … just with a floral aftertaste in your mouth.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3280 Midland Avenue

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!

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