Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Late adopter tries popular restaurant

Ever since it opened mid-year, the Sydney branch of the Din Tai Fung dumpling chain has generated a positive buzz, from professional restaurant reviewers as well as foodbloggers. And let’s face it, it’s the latter we read and believe more now, isn’t it?

Din Tai Fung began in 1958 as a small shop on Linyi Street [Taipei] run by Bingyi Yang and his wife Pengmei Lai” – from the brochure ‘About Dintaifung’. The chain now has around 50 restaurants in China, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia and the US.

We went there for lunch, arriving at 11.45am, but there was a 20 minute wait for a non-shared table (considering the place opens at 11.30am, there must have been people lining up pretty early). No probs, as it gave us time to peruse the menu and to mark the items we want on an order sheet.

We started with a very spicy hot and sour soup ($4.80 for small). I swallowed some the wrong way and had a minor coughing fit, not helped by the extreme pepper hit in the soup. It was tasty, but could have been hotter – temperature-wise, that is.

Next came cha jiang noodles ($11.80), with a saucy pork mince and tofu mixture on top of very silky handmade noodles. This was an excellent dish, with the meat being yielding and velvety; the noodles have a very fine texture and were the best I’ve had in ages. The wontons ($8.80 for 6) were okay, just ordinary wontons, although the wrapper was again very smooth and soft without being too delicate – no one likes wontons that break. The soup was gentle and a nice counterpoint to the wontons.

So how were the dumplings (xiao long bao)? These were the soup dumplings ($8.80 for 6) that have hot soup encased with meat inside the wrapper. Poke or bite a hole in the dumpling and slurp out the soup first, unless you want to burn your mouth by eating it whole!

I was fascinated by the beautiful pleats on the dumplings, and apparently each dumpling weighs the same. The dumpling makers work (and dress) like a medical team gathered around a patient in surgery, so the dumplings are obviously very good. The pork dumplings are nice, but the crab and pork ones were better (they should be, at nearly double the price, $15.80 for 6). Great crab texture. It was a pleasure biting into these mini (production line) works of art.

I’m glad we finally tried Din Tai Fung. Even despite the wait for a table, the food arrived promptly and the service is perfunctory though efficient. And the food was very filling, as only pork dumplings can be. I wouldn’t mind going there regularly, although bf said he prefers yum cha. We will have to rock paper scissors it out next time I need a dumpling fix.


  1. The handmade noodles sound yummy. The staff in the masks look pretty scary though.

  2. Haha as soon as I saw the title somehow I knew you were talking about DTF! The pleating on the dumplings is definitely a thing of beauty I have to say. Merry 2009 Belle!

  3. hi Arwen - the noodles were the best, you must try them. And I'm glad the staff have hygiene in mind...

    hi Lorraine - Food's no good unless it looks good too, non? Hope 2009 is great for you, NQN!