A steam of hot water raised through the air as I looked through the glass, separating the kitchen from the restaurant. A team of chefs, scientists in white coats, carried out their work with clinical precision. Like a Swiss watch with hundreds of parts, everyone doing its job in a synchronised, well executed process. The message was clear and simple. This is excellence. Made right in front of you. The best soup dumplings in the world.
My first encounter with Din Tai Fung was exactly where it suppose to be. At the original restaurant on Xinyi Road in Taipei City, dating back to 1972. Although food and travel often go hand in hand, it took a while before I discovered it. Yet another example of the “tourist bubble” we so often live in. A well-known place by locals, but not visited by most tourists. A bit surprising for a place known to have the ”cheapest Michelin guide food you can eat”.
A team of chefs, scientists in white coats, carried out their work with clinical precision. The message was clear and simple. This is excellence. Made right in front of you. The best soup dumplings in the world.
Starting off as a peanut and vegetable oil company in 1957, the family owned business has emerged from a one-only restaurant in Taiwan to a global food phenomenon with presence throughout Asia. Today, you can find a Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, and Tokyo, as well as in London, Los Angeles, and Dubai. Everyone deep rooted in a Taiwanese tradition outset more than 50 years ago.
As you can’t reserve a table at a Din Tai Fung restaurant, you simply have to wait – sometimes for hours during peak hours. However, this is all part of the experience. Spend the time by ticking boxes in the small menu cards and have your set of food served almost immediately after you get the table. Needless to say, timing and efficiency have always been key to the Din Tai Fung success story.
Serving a variety of Asian cuisine, the signature dish is the soup dumplings, or Xiao long bao as they are called in Mandarin Chinese. Delivered in a steamy basket made of bamboos, the paper-thin dumplings encloses marinated juice from tender minced pork. Take a bite and its soup bursts like a flavorful flood, exploding against your taste buds with a series of nuances you most never tasted before.
Delivered in a steamy basket made of bamboos, the paper-thin dumplings encloses marinated juice from tender minced pork. Take a bite and its soup bursts like a flavorful flood, exploding against your taste buds with a series of nuances you most never tasted before.
To eat as a local, add a splash of vinegar to the soy sauce and top it with ginger straws. Put the hot dumpling in the porcelain cup, garnish it using your chopsticks, and bring it to your mouth with the small spoon. Let the simple, yet intoxicating blends of flavours melt together you chew on it, before swallowing. Accompany the dish with hot tea or pour it down with an ice cold Asahi beer.
The Din Tai Fung experience is not about tasting something new. It’s about reinventing the art of cooking, bringing world class food to millions of people. Traditional, yet modern. Simple, yet complex. Cheap, yet rich. An experience that will continue to surprise for generations to come, nurturing its modern legend. Some things never get old. Din Tai Fung is one of them.
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