Updated: 4th July 2012; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.
On one hand, I wanted to like Legendary Noodles because it is supposed to be a well-established and well-respected restaurant. But truth be told, there are a lot of things that leaves much to be desired with Legendary Noodle — at least with the restaurant we went to. They do some things well, but it is what they failed in that makes us not wanted to go back again.
There are two Legendary Noodle locations in Metro Vancouver. There is one on Main Street and another one on Denman.
There used to be one in Richmond but that closed some years ago. The Legendary Noodle in Richmond was one of the early posts on chowtimes. I remember that it was the first restaurant where we picked the courage to ask the chef to pull the noodles for us so that we can put an interesting angle to the post. He he he … asking them for permission to take pictures scared us then because we were such noobs then. Today, we have thicker skin.
The Legendary Noodle location we went to was the one located on Main Street at the intersection with King Edward.
The decor in Legendary Noodle can be described as tacky … especially the beaded curtains and the wooden paper lantern. It is obvious that they are trying to portray themselves as Oriental in the eyes of the western world. It doesn’t really bother me but it is really in your face.
What really spoil our experience in Legendary Noodle is the service. Mind you, Suanne and I are not demanding customers. I must say that we interact with restaurant staff really well and we are respectful people. Well, the moment we sat down, the young waitress had the sour face like we had just offended her by coming into the restaurant. OK, we shrugged it off while we looked at the menu. When she came back, the same sour face came along. Suanne described her as being very “fu hei” (in Cantonese). We would have understood if the waitress did not smile but giving us that irritated look is what I could not have understood.
OK, to put things in proper perspective, there could be a reason behind this and might not be the same to other customers. But really, I was quite annoyed. No, we did not leave then and there. It is because we were not used to storming out to make a point.
Service aside, the tables are small. It is sized for bowls of noodles and nothing more. It is just that we had to keep the camera and notebook on our lap. We do realize that restaurants are not designed for bloggers. That is beside the point in case someone wants to rebut me on this point for thrashing Legendary Noodle for the rude service. 🙂 Bottom line, the tables were not big.
You may click on the menu above to show a larger image. They use Mandarin names like Dao Xiao Mian, Gan Ban Mian, Tang Mian, etc. A lot of the items are vegetarian and they are clearly marked on the menu.
The menu is just a 1-pager. The prices were cheap with the noodles costing $7 – $8.
The gold award winning dish is known as the Lamb Shanks Noodle Soup on their menu. It came in two sizes — small for $7 and just $1 more for the large one. We opted for the small bowl even though we were tempted to get more value with the bigger serving. No, we had been eating way too much already and decided that discipline is in order.
The serving is small. For us who just wanted to taste it, it is just right. If you are hungry, you’ll need the larger serving.
The broth is not bad actually. It is on the light side but sufficiently … flavoured with lamb that it is unmistakably lamb. We like that they sprinkled a lot of garlic and cilantro in the bowl.
If there is one thing they do well, it is most definitely the noodles. They are hand pulled and it is evidenced by the inconsistent thickness. The noodles are chewy and starchy as one would expect from good quality noodles. The texture … perfect.
They are stingy with the lamb shanks. They are so small … too small. Any smaller, it could have been called minced meat. LOL! OK, I exaggerated but I think you can see for yourself how small it is.
The appetizer we got was not on the menu but written on a piece of paper. The above is Beef Tendon ($5.50). It is good that they thinly shredded this up and mix in some cilantro.
This is a common appetizer dish which is served cold. It has a bit of saltiness and as expected, it is chewy to the bite.
We also ordered the Ground Pork & Black Bean Sauce with Minced Mushroom on Noodle ($7). Like the Lamb Noodle Soup, this is also a rather small serving. You can see better from the picture above how small the serving is. Just see the size of the soup spoon against the bowl.
The sauce did not taste like the black bean sauce we expected. I am not sure what it is but it sure wasn’t the savoury type. So, the sauce which is supposed to define this dish does not do much for it.
The only good part is the minced meat which sort of rescued this noodle somewhat.
What I would like to learn is how Legendary Noodle won the gold award when there are so many more restaurants who are more than capable in at least equally good noodles.
I need not add anymore as to the reason why I was quite underwhelmed by Legendary Noodle. Maybe it is just us who just did not click with the waitress. But I still maintain that we were quite pleasant people who do not go around being mean to people for no reason. That unfortunate service slip-up spoils it all for Suanne and I.
One more point … Legendary Noodle accepts cash only. Am not surprised since their food is so cheap.
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Ben, the “black bean sauce” on the noodles isn’t the Cantonese fermented black bean sauce you’re more familiar with. This is “zha jiang” or “chun jiang”, most known for usage in the “zha jiang mien” noodle dish:
I know what Zha Jiang Mian is. I was trying hard not to use a more caustic word to describe the sauce and thought I just say it was not what I expected. It was quite devoid of flavour. Almost all flavour came from the pork. Black bean? At one point the word “ash” came across my mind but I know that was too mean. So I just say that it was not what I expected.
Wow that’s disappointing alright. It’s been a few years since I’ve been back to Legendary. I only remember eating a bowl of “beef noodle soup” whereas the soup was so devoid of flavour that it could easily have been simply dirty dishwashing water 🙁
I hate to say this but the CRA is a marketing campaign scam in my opinion. Our restaurant didn’t want to get involve because you had to pay to get the award… Notice that all the CRA restaurant listed are small business and none of the regular or fancy restaurants is on there?
If this was a real award they would not be bias and judge every Chinese restaurant, without paying for a piece of paper.
What is the most shocking to me is that, some of the gold and silver dishes aren’t even that hard to make… It just seem like 3 restaurant per category and obviously each restaurant is going to get an award. The more I find out about the CRA awards, the more frustrating I get…
Whoa! It is a big claim that the CRA asks for payment to get their awards. That I am not sure because asking for payment goes against the very credibility of the awards. Was your restaurant asked to pay? Or is that just a perception that you have to pay. I am thinking that if payment is involved, then all the bigger, fancier restaurants would have been more than willing to pay than smaller ones. I am skeptical about what you just said, quite honestly but would love to have CRA officially comment on this.
For what it’s worth, the CRA list is helping us in writing about good food. The food on the CRA list are all pretty good.
I’ve have been comparing information about the CRA with our good friends of Lins Restaurant. Which has won and was nominated by the CRA.
What I should have been clear about was the payment of the award, is the entrance fee for the award show. Which is in my opinion the same thing as paying for the award. Our restaurant did not pay to attend the award show, thus, we we’re not nominated. Same with other restaurant we’ve spoken to that was approached by this same method. I could be wrong but it just a theory that information was gather and concluded upon.
The CRA list have some good dishes but some can be question about why it’d won the gold category.
P.S. Hopefully the CRA would improve and include all restaurant because we rather lose to the best.
Doug – I’m going to make a wild assumption and call you out on a bad case of sour grapes. I’m not sure how you’ve connected the entrance fee for an award show with paying for a nomination. You, I and everyone else might have doubts about some of the CRA winners, but that’s likely chalked up to pure subjectivity, and certainly not symptomatic of some grand payola scheme.
Or I could be wrong and everyone’s on the take.
Its just a group of us old folk restaurant workers, manager, owners, and customers talking about the CRA awards. I personally don’t care about winning awards, that is not my purpose to serving customers. I’m statisfied by the look of cheer bliss when they see our dishes.
The Chinese Restaurant Awards does not charge an entry fee. In fact restaurants do not enter for the Critics’ Choice Awards but are selected by a panel of Chinese Food Critics. If you have a specific dish that you feel warrants reviewing please alert the organization at email@example.com we are always open to input.
p.s. for the Diners’ Choice Awards, we do not charge any entry fee as well. The awards were nominated by our judging panel. For CRA 2011, we will let the public the nominate the best restaurants for Diners’ Choice Awards. Stay tuned with us.
I went checked it out one day, the Main Street location, when City Temple was mysteriously closed.
The noodles were okay and the soup was okay… but it was just… lots of little things: the meanfaced girl tossing the menu at me… or the lack of vinegar on the table (vinegar and lamian go together like… Trae and Z-Ro)… the general Chinoiserie knickknack decorating scheme…. Same vibe as you got, I guess. If you’re in the neighborhood, might as well go to Peaceful, for the same kinda menu but executed way better. Or. If you’re lucky enough to live in Richmond, go to Xi’an Cuisine.
Thought you dropped off the face of the earth after your “babygirlloveofmylife” (love that name!) was back. Oh we like Xi’an in the Richmond Public Market. For the past few weeks, we had been eating out at these old favourites of ours. I’ll be standing in front of the stall and not able to decide what to get.
Just because something isn’t what you “expected” doesn’t mean it isn’t right. You really need to do your research before writing these entries that shows your ignorance…
I think Ben was too nice saying wasn’t what he had “Expected” let me say for him what he can’t. The dish tasted awful and should not be on the menu! I serve at a restaurant and if my customers told me that a dish had tasted awful, we either fix it or throw it out of the menu. When something taste awful, you can’t expect someone to enjoy an awful dish. It doesn’t matter if the Chef intended to cook it that way or the history and culture behind a dish. If it taste bad, it shouldn’t be served to the public!
Have you tried their “black bean” sauce noodles before, Jenny? If you have, tell me how exactly it is like to you. If you have not tried it, I think you might just be unhappy that I was pissed with the mean “service”. I knew it would come to this because Legendary Noodle is such a well respected restaurant to a lot of people. Like I said, there are things that they did well — the hand pulled noodles were fantastic. I’ll leave it at that.
For some reason, even though it tries so hard to portray itself as an “authentic” Chinese noodles place, it still appears very westernized to me. The food was pretty good during my last visit, yet… definitely not an “authentic” taste to me!
LOL! You know what I really think? Instead of saying that Legendary Noodle is a westernized restaurant trying hard to portray itself as authentic Chinese, I was thinking of the opposite. I was thinking that Legendary Noodle is an authentic Chinese restaurant trying to pander to the western stereotype of a Chinese restaurant so that it appeals to a broader customer base. The restaurant is more than capable of dishing out authentic Chinese dishes, I am very sure. The tacky wooden lanterns are there for a reason.
Ben, I think you’re right about Legendary trying to appeal to a broader customer base. IIRC, this is the restaurant that was featured in one of the Bob Blumer _Glutton for Punishment_ shows on Food Network. I’m thinking they might have tried to capitalize on that exposure — hence, all the Chinoiserie and the location on Denman street.
I was searching (no luck) on Youtube for Bob Blumer’s clip where he learned noodle pulling from Brock Li of Legendary. it was a funny clip ! 😀
Thanks for the review. I was thinking of checking out Legendary Noodle one of these days, but you just saved me a trip. 🙂
we went to the denman location a couple of months back just to finally try it. all 4 of us tried different noodle dishes. if i recall it right, we had one with beef, one with chicken, a stirfry noodle dish and another forgettable soup dish. bottomline, that will be our first and last visit at legendary. we liked the noodles but that is all there is to it. service-wise, it was just ok.
I see the bloodbath and want to jump in: the place doesn’t live up to its hype, the CRA is a mass conspiracy, Ben hates black bean sauces of all types, etc. I’m rolling up my sleeves – lemme in there!
Kidding aside, Legendary made it into Food & Wine’s “10 Best Value Restaurant,” which seems like a ridiculous global list: http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/10-best-value-restaurants-go-list-2008
Thanks for the morning laugh, Joe 😀
Reminds me of Zen’s being called by an American-Chinese writer as the best Chinese restaurant outside of China. We don’t know what went behind the scenes for such designations. Incidentally, Zen now claims itself as “The Best Chinese Restaurant in the World”. Isn’t there a law in Canada about false advertising?
Actually, Crispy Lechon, we do kinda know what went on behind the scenes: it’s all in Jennifer 8’s book. The fact that Zen took the tag and ran it into the ground was just unfortunate.
BTW, for one of the best Lamb with Handpulled Noodle soup, try Xi’an Cuisine in Richmond Public Market food court. I’m sure Dylan will wholeheartedly concur.
I think Dylan already hangs out there regularly ………
I have never been to Zen, and i don’t knock them for milking the publicity. The writer making the comment, she made was a joke, i’m sure that a majority of the asians in Greater Vancouver never even heard of Zen and when they did, laughed. Not laughing at Zen, but the absurdness of the comment. I really hoped that no one purchased her book.
I had been to Zen before she made her comment and I’m Asian. It was a bit pricey, but the cooking was actually quite good. I can see why she made that comment.
There are definitely much better lamb noodles out there. I don’t think Legendary is as good the buzz around the restaurant. I think the noodles themselves are good…but the broth and toppings are pretty weak even compared to what you can get at the foodcourts (Crystal, President’s Plaza and RPM).
I have never gone back to a restaurant that has bad service. Never. There’s tons of restaurants for me to try.
I used to really like Legendary on Main before they “spruced it up” with the lanterns (which I don’t mind) and the awful square wooden booths (limiting the number of people in your party to four and rendering your posterior a house of pain in short order). The food seemed better and I liked the slightly rundown diner feel of the old place. They only ever had paper menus back then. I went back in the winter and thought it had gone downhill foodwise. Never had bad service there though.
I actually liked Legendary Noodle House. And really is it so bad that they are marketing themselves as a chinois restaurant? I did like the lamb soup but thought they were stingy as well with the protein portion but at those prices… Their prices have barely raised and they were always rather cheap. A few appetizer sides and the soup noodles, good memories of student days =). For what it is, a cheap quick meal it’s great, the ingredients they use are quite good.