Szechuan with a spicy happy feeling at Spicy Legend 

click to enlarge Fresh fish filet boiled in house spicy sauce is a menu highlight at Spicy Legend on Clement Street. - GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Fresh fish filet boiled in house spicy sauce is a menu highlight at Spicy Legend on Clement Street.
Spicy Legend, a new Sichuanese spot on Clement Street, has one of those long, finely printed menus with few detailed descriptions of the dishes. One might easily get lost, if not for its top left hand corner, boldly headed “Spicy Happy Feeling.”

It’s a good part of the menu to linger over and take some chances, for spicy happy feeling is the restaurant’s specialty The fresh filet boiled in chili sauce might easily propel one towards contentment. It’s a generous bowl — whole filets of gently poached white fish, sopping with a garlicky, umami-licious, chili sauce and little crunchy toasted sichuan peppercorns that crumble and release numbing, stimulating, almost drug-like, pills in the mouth.

The cold platter Szechuan chicken — half a chicken, poached and thinly sliced — reminds me of an old-fashioned grandmotherly cold-poached chicken, well drenched in garlic chili broth and a deluge of sesame seeds and garlic-fried, crunchy soy nuts. It is beautiful, full of subtleties and elegant, its coolness appreciated when dancing with the hot tickle of chili.

The House Dong Po Pork is also worth trying. It’s a massive joint of stewing pork, skin on, slowly cooked until it’s become a stretchy, uber-tender lump of flavorful meat barely hanging together.

Spicy Legend’s appeal is in delicate touches and perhaps arcane dishes — frog legs? Check. Intestines? Yes ma’am.

For those less adventurous, there’s plenty of recognizable fare. Those looking for a wonton soup with whole vegetables — a sincere, genuinely considered soup — look no further. Instead of the usual shreds of cabbage or lettuce and slivers of ham, Spicy Legend’s version of the restaurant staple boasts whole wood ear mushrooms, chunks of oyster mushrooms, whole enoki mushrooms, shrimp and baby bok choy.

Portions are massive, noodles are supple, vegetables plentiful, and spice is spicy.

Topping the meal is a sweet savory complimentary dish of peanuts and dried anchovy and a dish of tingly cabbage pickle. Service is low-key and timely, the room is bright — perhaps overly bright — and clean. One can pursue one’s happiness here, plainly.

Spicy Legend

Location: 2109 Clement St., S.F

Contact: (415) 386-8818,

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays-Mondays

Recommended dishes: Fresh fish filet boiled in house spicy sauce ($16.95), wonton soup ($8.95)

Price range: $5 to $20

Credit cards: All major

Reservations: Accepted

About The Author

Cynthia Salaysay

Cynthia Salaysay

Dining writer for The S.F. Examiner.
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