Din Tai Fung

By grace.g.yang ยท May 17, 2010
Under: Asian,Chinese,Desserts,Dinner,Lunch,My Life,Taiwan,Travels

As a kid, David and I would come back to Taiwan every summer to visit my dad. We’d do things anyone visiting Taiwan would want to do; visit the National Palace Museum to see the special jade, climb Yang Ming San, meet up with cousins, go shopping, and eat lots and lots of good food. My dad is really good at navigating Taipei’s restaurant scene, so as a kid, we’d go all over the city eating at little stands with great beef noodle soup, dessert shops with the best mango ice, and Din Tai Fung for their soup dumplings. Din Tai Fung is very close to my dad’s city apartment, so as a kid, we’d make multiple trips to the popular restaurant. Also, David and I happen to absolutely obsess over their soup dumplings. Din Tai Fung:


There’s always a wait at this Din Tai Fung because it’s the original and whenever foreigners visit, it’s a guaranteed good meal. There are others around the city, but apparently the service and caliber of food are vastly different. My aunt and cousin went to the one located close to Sogo and said that the dumplings there inedible, so if you decide to visit, definitely go to this one. Me and David with my dad:


And me, David, and my mom with my aunt and uncle (my mom’s older sister and younger brother):


Din Tai Fung is so popular that they’ve created a dumpling character:


You can buy their merchandise (tons of little things like pens, pencils, keychains, etc):


The wait is never that long (we usually had to wait 15 – 25 minutes), but there’s also a bookstore next door that we’d visit while we waited. While you wait, you can peruse the menu (English, Japanese, and Korean versions are readily available) and make your order. As we walked to our table, I peaked into the kitchen, where they were wrapping and steaming dumplings:


As soon as we arrived at our table on the 3rd floor, a waiter came along to bring us some appetizers:


We decided to order the braised wheat gluten:


And seaweed with glass noodles, bean sprouts, and dried bean curd in a rice vinegar dressing:


Both appetizers were delicious, but we were visiting Din Tai Fung for these: 10 little soup dumplings:


The soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung are the best in the world; the skin is very thin but holds in just the right amount of pork and soup:


Also, each soup dumpling is supposed to only have 18 folds (my mom counted 19 in one…UH OH!). To make the soup dumplings, the chef first prepares a gelatin (made from a pork broth). Then they prepare the pork filling and when they wrap the dumplings, they put a little piece of gelatin in each dumpling. When the dumplings are steamed, the gelatin melts and creates the “soup” in the soup dumplings. I also really like their dumplings because the skin at the top isn’t too thick (that’s one of the problems with Joe Shanghai dumplings, in my opinion).

In addition to two orders of their famous soup dumplings, we also ordered steamed pork dumplings topped with shrimp:


These dumplings are another specialty of Din Tai Fung because it’s not easy to wrap them (keeping the shrimp in place while steaming is difficult). These were a little drier than the soup dumplings but definitely worth ordering.

We also ordered a chinese vegetable, translated as Taiwanese A vegetables:


These vegetables used to be eaten only by the birds, but someone discovered that they were really good for human consumption as well. They’re slightly more crunchy than chinese spinach, but have a similar taste and texture. These were sauteed in oil and garlic and a nice way to round out a very dumpling-heavy meal.

My dad ordered noodles with fried bean curd for my brother:


And chicken noodle soup for me and my mom:


The chicken broth is poured into the noodles tableside:


The broth is rich and very flavorful and the noodles are really delicious as well. It’s funny that the weather is so incredibly hot and muggy yet everytime we go to a restaurant, everyone is drinking hot soup! Even when we go to the night market, everyone is drinking hot soup, eating hot desserts, and drinking hot tea.

My dad told us that whenever locals go to Din Tai Fung, they always order the fried rice with pork:


He found out from his students because whenever they go, they order the soup dumplings and the fried rice. Din Tai Fung’s fried rice was really delicious; not too oily and the egg that was cooked alongside the rice wasn’t too thick. The pork was sprinkled with white pepper and very good on its own, but I could’ve eaten a bucket filled with their fried rice!

My mom wanted to get an order of their zong zhi, so we ended up ordering two for the table:


Their zong zhi is filled with wu-hua ro (pork belly) and then wrapped in bamboo leaves before being steamed. The rice is glutinous rice (not the same rice that was used for the pork fried rice) and comes out much stickier once cooked. The rice melts in your mouth:


The pork belly that was inside the zong zhi was only the meat; they remove all of the fat before placing it in the rice so you get the best meat and don’t have to chew through the fat to enjoy the good stuff.

For dessert, my dad ordered the steamed cake with red bean:


It’s similar to sponge cake; very light and delicate and then sweetened with a little red bean before being steamed alongside all of the dumplings. The cake needs to be eaten while it’s still warm because it toughens up as soon as the cold air hits it. I always like eating their red bean desserts and this cake was a sweet way to end the feast. Me and my dad after our lunch:


I really love visiting Din Tai Fung every time I visit Taiwan; my mom just told me she thought it was our best meal here so far (not sure if I agree with that statement considering I went to my aunt’s house and she cooked us a feast that was amazing). The original Din Tai Fung is the only one you want to visit; the dumpling quality at the other places will not be the same and I wouldn’t want you to have a bad Din Tai Fung experience!

Reader Comments

Hi Grace!

I just wandered into your blog for the first time in a while (it was in your gchat away message, I guess) and I couldn’t resist telling you how unbelievably adorable that dumpling character is. ๐Ÿ™‚

(And ok, the dumplings themselves look pretty amazing too… maybe someday my love of soup dumplings will bring me to Taipei.)

Hope you are well!

Written By Karen Vanderbilt on May 17th, 2010 @ 8:23 am

What is wheat gluten? Is that a common food or snack? Does it taste good? It just looks so odd.

Written By john on May 18th, 2010 @ 1:11 am

i love their wine chicken and chicken soup <3 it's the bestest ๐Ÿ˜€

Written By miss tiffie on June 2nd, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

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