Tuesday, 27 September 2011

manchurian legends

it is fairly correct to say that i am likely to try most places that jay rayner recommends (at least those which my pocket can afford). it is also correct to say that i have never been disappointed by his recommendations, and if my dinner experience at manchurian legends hadn’t been as disastrous on saturday evening thanks to service and language barriers i probably would have been able to favourably add to that list. what happened is that o made a reservation for three at eight o’clock. when i and i arrived at manchurian legends we were told that we’d have to sit in the karaoke room, a claustrophobic wood panelled box on the second floor with a table that was far from suitable for eating. since the waitress was challenged not only by her accent but her english as well there was much confusion. then the hungry husband arrived in a not so good mood having been jostled at the tube and having to negotiate the errant crowds of chinatown. he was however able to successfully get us a normal table on the floor downstairs.

i had this deep sense of foreboding that dinner was not going to be a pleasant affair that night. the waitress returned to take our order and we realised that we would have steer clear of asking any questions about the dishes as she firmly said ‘give me number’. we ordered a kung bao chicken for o, a beef and chilli stir fry for me, some noodles with egg and soy sauce, egg and chive dumplings, a pork with glass noodles for i, egg and chilli fried rice and some skewers of squid barbecue.

this is the point at which things got even worse. the kung bao chicken arrived first and then everything after came in fits and starts with the dumplings and squid skewers arriving last. this meant that not only did we eat a partially hot and partially cold dinner with some of the food being inedible, but that we had to start with the mains and end on what should have been the appetizers. the squid skewer which had really strong notes of cumin and chilli were cold and rendered completely inedible and my noodles had landed up being a congealed cool mess. it is a pity because the flavours were simply fantastic. i loved the kung bao chicken which had the strong heat of sichuan and chilli pepper tempered with the slightly sugary note of the sauce. the beef was excellent, deep fried to a crisp with a sweet sticky sauce. the egg and chive dumplings had a delicate wrapper and let off steam when bitten into.

sadly though the service had set the tone for the dinner. i do not understand why chinese restaurants in london fall into two categories when it comes to service. either they are impeccable in which case you do not have to lift a single finger or they are so poor that you are constantly trying to catch the attention of the serving staff. i would like for the service at machurian legends to improve but think it is highly likely that i may come again just because the food was so very good.  

Manchurian Legends on Urbanspoon

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