Sichuan Makeover in Chelsea

The vast menu at Legend promises Chinese food, Vietnamese food, "American Chinese" food, and more. But this kitchen's sweet spot is authentic Sichuan, and that's where hounds have been happiest. Dry spicy diced chicken with ginger and peanut is powerfully seasoned and rich in ma la (numbing and hot) flavors, missmasala reports. Chengdu hot and spicy fish delivers a rousing chile kick and "feels like some kind of soul food," says Pearlie, "a great big white bowl of heat and goodness!" Also recommended: fried lamb with cumin, crisp sliced pork with garlic stems, Sichuan wonton in red oil, double-cooked fresh bacon with spicy bean sauce, and mapo tofu, whose sauce "manages to be both oily and light at the same time," bworm42 writes. "None of this nonsense with cornstarch and green peas."

Cocktails are potent and generously poured, and dessert is worth saving room for, especially ice cream. Green tea ice cream, too often pallid and overly sweet, is deep green in color and steeped in true tea flavor, finishing on a unique tannic, slightly bitter note, missmasala says. The red bean, vanilla, and banana flavors are also more flavorful and less sugary than the norm.

Those Vietnamese dishes on the menu are a holdover from Legend's hound-endorsed predecessor, Safran. Unfortunately they're now skippable, advises duckie, who complains that the pho broth, among other things, has fallen off in quality.

So how does this place stack up against the city's top Sichuan contenders? nativeNYer suggests it's up there with Szechuan Gourmet, Grand Sichuan, and Wu Liang Ye. The menu is intriguing and "worthy of devoted study," Pearlie finds. "I just think this is some of the best Sichuan cooking going on in Manhattan."

Legend [Chelsea]
88 Seventh Avenue (between 15th and 16th streets), Manhattan
212-929-1778

Discuss: Revelatory new Sichuan restaurant--Legend on 7th Avenue at 15th