Restaurant: The Legendary Restaurant
Location: 2718 Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803. (626) 872-0616
Date: June 26, 2017 & September 21, 2018 and January 6, 2018
Cuisine: Szechuan Chinese
Rating: Solid Szechuan in the land of so much solid Szechuan
It’s actually been awhile since I tried a NEW Szechuan place for lunch. But part of my 2 part back to back days in the SGV I figured lunch buddy Larry and I would give Legendary a try — the name after-all is very impressive. Wait, that must be Szechuan Impression or maybe Chengdu Impression :-).
Typical frontage. It was 100 degrees in the SGV today!
The interior is just hinting at having some style. Not much. And it used to be some tikki restaurant called Bamboo Lounge and the signs aren’t even all changed over. haha.
Short menu with nice pictures.
Big pitcher of smoked plum juice. A must with Szechuan.
Chongqing street noodles. Basically noodles in the chili oil broth. Not bad, but I like good dan dan better. Nice noodles though.
Shredded eel with dried chili (9/21/18 and 1/6/19). Actually quite delicious. The eel was very fried, very crispy, and not fishy at all. It had that nice salty/aromatic quality from the chilies. This is, of course, very similar to the chicken dish, but more eel!
Second time we had this dish (1/6/19) it had a fairly off-putting “urine-like” taste.
Peking Duck (1/6/19). I was surprised they had it — we had to pre-order, but still, this was pretty darn good. The mean quality was excellent and I liked the way they cut and presented it. The skin could have been a touch crispier but this was great.
Pancakes to go with the duck.
Boiled Fish with Peppercorns (9/21/18). To say that this dish had “peppercorns” will always be an understatement. There must have been an entire bag of Szechuan peppercorns in here — and it gave the fish a delightful (and intense) numbing factor.
Fried shrimp in hot spicy sauce. I’m not sure I would call this a sauce. Fried shrimp bathed in dry hot peppers is more like it. The shrimp were tasty though.
Griddle Cooked Chicken (parts) (9/21/18). There are any number of griddle cooked dishes, and they taste pretty similar regardless of the protein, but this one was basically all chicken giblets. I must have eaten 10 hearts! Not bad, considering that.
Boiled beef in chili sauce. This was probably my favorite dish. Nice mala broth. Tender beef. TONS of garlic and interesting tofu noodles and lotus rooms underneath. Really great over rice.
Smoked lamb chops. Or mouton chops as the case happened to be. Very fatty and gamey. I liked them, but I don’t mind a bit of mouton — but YMMV.
Tofu with Crab Roe (9/21/18 & 1/6/19). I discovered this dish on my recent China trip and have been addicted ever since. It has that soft Mapo type texture, but is mild, salty, with a lot of umami.
Lightly fried pork buns. These were basically pan fried XLB. Loved ’em. Ate most of this plate. Could have eaten another plate. These unfortunately were out of stock on 1/6/19.
Overall, on my first visit, I found Legendary a solid Szechuan place with a bit better style to the plating than most. Food was good, but not quite as good as some others. They didn’t seem to use MSG though which is great. It was also dead empty so they might not last. I’d certainly go back but the competition is fierce in this area. It isn’t Legendary though, I’d give it a blue, no purple for sure.
Second time around, in September of 2018, I was more impressed with Legendary. We got some different dishes (well totally different, and only a couple I’ve had exactly at other places) and they were all spectacular — except maybe the chicken hearts. They weren’t crowded at all, and same funny Bamboo Lounge vibe, but I this this is a first class Szechuan joint, up there with Chengdu Taste and Szechuan Impression.
Third time, for dinner on January 1, 2019, Legendary continued to impress. 8-9 out of 10 dishes were great and there were a lot of really good ones, including, surprisingly, the Peking Duck. There were a few misses like the eel this time around, but also some other unique and “legendary” dishes like the fern root noodle.
Wines from dinner visits: