Name: Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) – Taipei 101
Visited Location: B1F., No.45, Shifu Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110 台北市信義區市府路45號B1(台北101購物中心)
Website: Din Tai Fung website 鼎泰豐官網
Price range: NT$ 400-500pp
Food: Chinese cuisine
Favourite dishes: Xiaolongbao/steamed pork dumplings
If traveling to Taiwan, one of the places that people will recommend to the visitors is indulge the xiaolongbao at one of Ding Tai Fung’s restaurants.
My first Din Tai Fung experience is at Taipei 101, this is the one of their newest stores so everything looks relatively new. Its decor is simple and clean.
Ding Tai Fung, a growing franchise, is known for its xiaolongbao (小籠包), they have branches all over Asia and even in the US and Australia. I’ve spotted quite a few foreign tourists at the restaurant, can surely say Ding Tai Fung is a brand that can represent the Taiwan’s cuisine.
The restaurant is fairly big, with lots of seating, but with their worldwide popularity, the place is packed before 12pm. Luckily we came earlier so there were no queue. There are even 6 private rooms in the restaurants. Service was fast and the waitresses were attentive and accommodating. I was amazed by how most of the waitresses are bilingual/multilingual (overheard a few of them speak in English or Japanese to the customers). When seated, the waitress gave us the menus and served us tea and also provided a storage crate for us to put our belonging in there.
Din Tai Fung serves a wide variety of dishes, ranges from dumplings, noodles (fried noodles or soup noodles such as wonton soup noodles), appetizer, bun (sweet or savoury), to desserts.
With no clue what is good at the restuaurant, I’ve ordered: Xiaolongbao (x10 per order), beef noodle soup, Pork and Glutinous Rice Shaomai, Prawn Pan-fried Dumplings and Fried Tofu Rice Noodles. After finished ordering, the waitress provided us some shredded ginger on the table and you can eat it with the Xiaolongbao (or anything you want to eat it with).
For being living in South Africa, there are hardly any chances to eat delicate Chinese cuisine. But I have to admit these are awesome dumplings! Small, shredded tender pork, with a hint of sesame oil. It is juicy and soft with perfectly thin dough (their signature Golden 18 folds 招牌黃金18摺) and it didn’t break when picking it out of the steamer. Once you popped it into your mouth the sauce just bursts. AMAZEBALLS! Definitely by far, my favourite one for the meal. And also try to add a hint of vinegar, ginger and soy sauce, the flavoring is quite awesome too! (Just to make a note, don’t mistaken Xiaolongtunbao 小籠湯包 as Xiaolongbao, which is only available before noon, comes with broth and it is smaller than the Xiaolongbao.)
I’ve also tried the braised beef noodle soup, the beef is tender and the broth is light. But I don’ t really like thin noodles plus I had better beef noodle soup else where.
My second favourite is the Prawn Pan-fried Dumplings. They are well pan-fried and the dough is crispy and not greasy at all. It is filled with tender and juicy pork mince and fresh prawns.
We’ve also tried the Pork and Glutinous Rice Shaomai (糯肉燒賣), I was curious about the name of the dish, since I’ve never heard of it. Bad idea. Not my favourite at all. There are way too much glutinous rice in proportion to the dough and the meat.
But next time I am definitely going to try out these lovelies since I’ve heard they are quite popular here:
Pork & Crab Dumpling (蟹粉小籠包)
Pork & Shrimp Shiaomai ((蝦仁燒賣)
Steamed Chicken Soup (元盅雞湯)
I like that they have a clear window to the kitchen in front of the restaurant to display how the chefs make their steamed pork dumplings. Not sure if it is intended for entertainment purposes but I think it is a way Din Tai Fung want to show their visitors the quality of the restaurant, that everything is freshly made. But poor chefs, they reminds me of Oompa-Loompas from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s, they are like the little machines!
Although the price is relatively higher than other restaurants with the same type of cuisine, but you pay for what you get. Our bill came to NT$913 (with quite a few leftover) and with 10% service fees, which personally I think this is reasonable considering that I am getting quality food and quality service. It is definitely a worthwhile experience for all the first-time visitors.
However, Din Tai Fung is the kind of restaurants where I will dine on rare occasion (or take visitors to) as there are lots of places in Taiwan that serve great xiaolongbao at affordable prices.