Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hunan Legend: The Chinese Menu

For a bite of authentic Chinese home cooking, you can now order off Hunan Legend's Chinese menu -- even if you can't read a character.

Last summer, I had a really bad meal at Hunan Legend and wrote about my frustration because I knew people love that Columbia institution and knew there was a "hidden" menu. Since then, I have raved about Grace Garden in Odenton, which serves up authentic, delicious Chinese food off menus that you can read in English.

A commenter Wai has translated Hunan Legend's Chinese menu. It's 34 items, including appetizers, stirfries, noodle dishes and more. Wai was very humble and says her written Chinese is rusty, but this should be invaluable for anyone who wants to explore specialties that you can't find on the American menu.

My thanks to Wai. This is my favorite post on HowChow. Just one local translating up some fun for anyone else. I'm happy to be the conduit. The image below is the largest that Blogger allows. If you can't read it (and it is hard), email me so that I can forward Wai's TIFF directly. (I'm on the road these days, so please give me a few days to respond.)

(Update: Over 2009, many people asked me for copies of this menu, and they kept bringing them to Hunan Legend. At some point, the restaurant created an official translation. If you're interested, check out the detailed comment below from a Hunan Legend regular who talked to the owners and the June 2009 post about Warthog, who took this menu to Hunan Legend and says that he enjoyed the authentic Chinese food.)


For more about Chinese food, check out my post about Chinese restaurants in Howard County.

12 comments:

mp said...

Is it in traditional or simplified?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone been able to read this menu?

Anonymous said...

cant read it either, lol

HowChow said...

Sorry if you can't read it. The image is a JPG in the largest size that Blogger posts. Wai's handwritten English translation is next to the printed Chinese. (MP -- I couldn't tell traditional from simplified.)

Bloger didn't let me post the original TIFF, so I had to convert Wai's file to a JPG. If you want the original so that you can print at 8 1/2 by 11, send me an email. I'll forward it to you.

Anonymous said...

We're regulars at Hunan Legend and after chatting with the owners (who impressively knew us by name on our third visit and how they remember what we ate previously, we still can't figure out), and the reason these authentic dishes were off-the-menu was primarily because many times, food got sent back because some customers weren't aware of what they were actually ordering and wanted the americanized version. But if you're into authentic, definitely try the Chilean Sea Bass in the spicy sauce, snow peas leaves (I know lots of people are now aware of this vegetable since it's usually the first recommendation by the waiter) with scallions and garlic, "dried tofu" with pork as Wai mentioned, and this final one may not appeal to a lot of people, but it's the pork blood and intestines in a spciy, hot sauce (it's the 14th item listed on the menu to be exact). Another we've heard that good is "ma pao" tofu but we were told to ask to have diced shrimp and pork added to it to make it even better. We like both authentic and americanized versions so we've definitely gone down the menu they offer. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

To add to my post earlier, you would have to call in the pork blood/intestines dish (if you're interested in this authentic delicacy) I think it was a day in advance. I almost left off two of our favorite appetizers as well from the chinese menu, the cuttlefish and pig's knuckle that my husband loves. I think those are also call-ins because they have to be specially made.

HowChow said...

Thanks for the comments and the recommendations. What is the cuttlefish appetizer? That's squid, right? Is it spicy/stirfried/with vegtables/??? Squid is one of those dishes that I order out because I don't know how to cook it well at home.

Anonymous said...

Yes, cuttlefish is part of the squid family. The appetizer is not stir-fried/sauteed with vegetables, but more so marinated or prepped in advanced I think. It's served semi-cold, and sliced with some orange coloring on the top edge (those who have had it before should know what I am refering to). However, I've had squid sauteed with mustard cabbage (that's the formal name for that vegetable they use) and that is another favorite that I didn't get to mention in the prior post. But if you like squid, I'm sure they can work something out for you because we've asked to have food made a certain way before and they were able to accomodate nicely. I would definitely go for (and always recommend) the Chilean sea bass in the spicy sauce though because we enjoy it so much. Hope that helps!

J Jones said...

My family members and two Chinese students ate at Hunan Legend this past weekend. We had the translated menu with us and one of the managers asked that I send her a copy.

We had assorted seafood in chafing dish and Chinese style beef from the menu and both Americans and Chinese found these dishes superior to the “American-style” dishes. The Chinese boys said the American dishes were too sweet and not spicy enough. I agreed.

On our next visit, we plan to concentrate more on the "authentic" Chinese menu.

reiyi said...

Seems like H.L’s “secret” menu is now officially an open secret! My husband went in for carryout the other day and happened to see the “secret” menu fully translated and taped to their front counter. As much as I would love to share a copy of it with everyone, it still boggles my mind as to why he didn’t even manage to ask for a copy! Perhaps someone else can get their hands on a copy to share with the rest of us. From what he mentioned, it seems everything is translated nicely and organized well, which is nice to have since the version you posted is a bit loosely translated (although much appreciation to the original translator) and a bit hard to read. I wonder if they’ve been secretly listening to our requests to have it translated…

Morty Abzug said...

Cuttlefish are closely related to squid, but are not a type of squid. The cuttlefish and squid are part of the family cephalopod. See wikipedia for more info.

Stephen said...

MP, the menu is in traditional characters.