RESTAURANT REVIEW

Authentic Hong Kong fare, just be prepared for the crowd at Jurong Point

Legendary Hong Kong is a dim-sum eatery, noodle-and-congee joint and roast-meat eatery all rolled into one

Walking into Legendary Hong Kong in Jurong Point is like being teleported to Hong Kong itself.

The layout of the eatery, which opened last year, is typical of a cha chaan teng (traditional Hong Kong cafe), albeit with more space between tables. But there are the same booth seats and on its walls are brightly coloured posters advertising the eatery's dishes.

Even the buzz is the same and you can pick up snatches of Hong Kong-accented Cantonese in the conversations of some members of the eatery's staff.

The menu, however, is more than what you typically get at a cha chaan teng. Legendary Hong Kong is a dim-sum eatery, noodle-and-congee joint and roast-meat eatery all rolled into one.

This multi-concept works well for me, because when I am in Hong Kong, I want to eat them all.

Hong Kong is probably where you find the best dim sum, though those in upmarket restaurants are usually more refined than what you get in casual eateries. In that spirit, I would not fault Legendary's dim sum for not being as exquisite as some I have eaten. But it is still very decent.

There is one original dim sum item, however, that I will go back for - Rice Flour Roll With Deep-fried Shrimp Spring Rolls ($5.50), a variation of the popular zha leong, or cheong fun rolled over a dough fritter.

In this case, the fritter is stuffed with shrimp, which makes it even better with an extra layer of flavour and texture.

The congee and noodles are excellent too. The Congee With Pig's Liver ($6.80) is a smooth gruel with large, thick slices of liver that are not overly pink, but not overcooked either.

Both the Wonton Noodle In Soup ($6.80) and Shrimp Dumpling In Soup ($6.80) are excellent, which is not surprising as the chef came from Mak's, probably the most famous noodle chain in Hong Kong. The noodles are springy and the wonton and shrimp dumplings are tasty and have a very nice crunch.

The fried noodles are good too. The Stir-fried Flat Rice Noodle With Beef Slices In Soy Sauce ($10.80) has good wok hei, the sauce is fragrant, the noodles are smooth and the beef is tender. There is little more one can ask for.

From the roast section, the pride of the restaurant is its Roasted London Duck ($14.80 for a portion, $58 for a whole duck), which uses ducks from the well-known Silver Hill Farm in Ireland. But while the flavour of the meat is good, the layer of fat under the skin is a bit thick and the skin does not crisp up as well as I would like. It is a problem the restaurant is aware of, however, and it is trying to get the farm to supply ducks with less fat.

The Crispy Pork Belly ($12.80) suffers from quite the opposite problem, however. It is too lean and the meat is tough because of that. But the restaurant says that is because Singaporeans generally do not like fat pork. If you do, just ask for fatter cuts which are juicier and more tender. The restaurant keeps them for people in the know.

I wish Legendary serves roast goose, but it does not. Geese from China cannot be imported into Singapore and the frozen ones from Hungary that we get here do not meet the chefs' standards.

Among the cha chaan teng items, the baked buns are my favourite. Custard crust bun, or bolo bao (literally pineapple bun in Cantonese), is a unique Hong Kong pastry and the version here is among the best I have eaten.

It is a soft baked bun with a sweet custard crust on top and, despite its name, does not contain any pineapple. The moniker comes from its appearance as the crust cracks when baked to create a pineapple-like exterior.

The best way to eat the bun is with a slice of chilled butter in the middle ($2.50) as the warm, crisp crust is moistened by the melting butter.

But Legendary also does unique Custard Crust Buns With Salty Egg Yolk Filling ($5 for three,) which are amazing. It is a combination of bolo bao and custard bun and is even better than the ubiquitous steamed version. The crust is crisp and when you bite into the bun, the salty custard oozes out.

Legendary is where I can now get a fix of Hong Kong noodles and cha chaan teng fare without getting out of the country. The only inconvenience is that it does not take reservations and the dining crowds at Jurong Point can be rather daunting.

Still, it is easier than taking a flight to Hong Kong.

ahyoke@sph.com.sg

Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke

SundayLife! paid for its meals at the eatery reviewed here.