Review: Legendary Hong Kong char chan tang at Rochester

The themed restaurant offers an extensive 25-category menu and homely refreshed colonial bungalow decor but the taste is just mah mah tei.

by Oo Gin Lee

The word Legendary strikes a deep chord with gamers.

Legendary loot is extremely rare; makes you skip several heartbeats when it drops and it is often a game changer. So when I heard about the new Hong Kong cafe restaurant at Rochester called Legendary Hong Kong, I knew I had to try it out, right away.

Housed in a refurbished black-and-white colonial bungalow within the Rochester Commons area (near Star Vista) I was immediately impressed with its looks. I dropped the missus off (there is no parking there) and headed backwards to Star Vista to park the car.

When we reached at 1120am on a Sunday, there was already a queue of about five groups. By the time we left at 1230pm, you can already see a long queue of about 10 groups forming outside the restaurant.

The first issue with this location is that while it looks big, the insides are cramped. I counted about 20-25 tables across two storeys, with most of the tables designed for two to six people. There were very few large tables that can accommodate a group of 8 to 10. My missus (who had gone in first while I parked the car) waited only about 10 minutes even though she was fifth in the queue. She was ushered to a small table on the air-conditioned balcony and was told that we had only ONE HOUR to eat.

The decor of the restaurant was tastefully done up, with clean bright walls and nice props that make you feel homely in a comely setting.

When it comes to service, an easy way to describe it is: rushed. It may not be as bad as the Hong Kong cafes in the territory itself, but the feeling you get is that it is functional – they get the job done, but don’t expect anything special.

Ordering is done through the QR code and food arrives quite quickly. Service staff will get you what you need, but they won’t have time to rearrange the dishes at your table. When the food arrives, the service staff will push stuff around so that it can drop the new dish at your table. There is little attention to empty bowls and completed dishes, and I had to ask them to take finished plates away to make way for new food. There are no napkins or serviettes on the table but condiments like chilli oil are available on a small pedestal nearby.

The space is cramped and attempting to fill your table with dim sum dishes will probably be a disaster. There is no mini-trunk or extra seats (and the service staff won’t bother) to put your bags and the missus had to do the usual “put-the-handbag-between-her-and-the-seat” thing that women have learned to master to deal with space-scrimping restaurants.

When we asked for a piece of pan-fried carrot cake to be “tar-pawed” the waitress literally brought a plastic box to the table and packed it in front of us (instead of taking it back to the kitchen as is normally the case)

Let’s be honest, the service isn’t great, but it’s not that bad either as the folks are not unfriendly (they are also not friendly but maybe because it was crowded).

Food quality

We ordered five food items and two drinks to share.

The best dish was the simple Shrimp dumpling with wanton noodles soup ($10.80) which clearly was the runaway winner (9/10) among all our food. The thin HK-style noodles were springy and crunchy and brought life to the tastebuds immediately. The soup was just right – not too salty but very flavourful and representative of the Hong Kong quality of wonton soup.

If you can only have one dish, the Shrimp dumpling with wanton noodles soup is a good choice.

The liver, pork ball and intestine congee ($13.80) did not hit the right notes (5/10) like the wonton noodle. We added more century egg ($2.00) as we are suckers for it. The congee was slightly smooth but not silken smooth. The rice grains were not boiled long enough for it to achieve the silken smooth effect and you can see from the image how large the grains are. The meat and spare parts were OK but if you have ever eaten at Mui Kee (the best HK congee in Singapore at Shaw Towers) you will immediately taste the lack of wok hei here.

Not silky smooth enough – the grains of rice are still large.

We also ordered pan-fried turnip cake ($6.80) and the steamed prawn and pork dumplings ($8.50) and both were middling (6/10) at best. Compared to the quality dim sum I have tried at Lei Garden (the old Orchard building branch) and those at Peach Blossom (Parkroyal Collection Marina) or at Cherry Garden (The Oriental) the dim sum was edible but unimpressive. Looking at the photo of the prawn and pork dumpling, you can tell the chef doesn’t really care if the skin wrapping the filing is already torn apart on arrival.

The prawn and pork dumpling didn’t make a good first impression.

The sauteed kangkong with preserved beancurd and chilli ($13.80) was crunchy and tasty (6.5/10), but it could largely be because I just love fu yi (fermented bean curd) anyway. It’s decent, but again it’s nothing to die for.

The sauteed kangkong with preserved beancurd and chilli should please fu yi lovers.

For drinks, we went for the Hong Kong milk tea ($3.80) and my wife had the Honey & Pomelo Tea ($3.80). They were both just OK lah, and the tea actually was Honey tea mixed with Yuzu (not pomelo).

I wish we could have tried more dishes because we were really impressed with the expansive menu which was broken into 25 sub-categories such as Famous HK Baked Rice,  French Toast Specials, HK Style Hamburgers and more.

Sadly, from what we tasted, this place is clearly overhyped. At $74.50 for five standard dishes and two standard drinks, it also does not offer very good value for the money. Overall, the food is not great, and also not bad. In other words, it is just mah mah tei.

  • 6/10
    Legendary Hong Kong at Rochester Commons - 6/10

Legendary Hong Kong at Rochester Commons

Decor ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐
Service ✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐☐☐
Food ✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐☐
Value for money ✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐☐☐

Looks like a big restaurant but it’s not spacious. An expansive menu and no time to enjoy it. The food doesn’t quite live up to the hype, but it’s not bad also. Perfectly mah mah tei.

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