I came to Taiwan with the intention of eating myself silly. I definitely did that and more during my trip as you will have seen and will continue to see for the rest of the week. Evenso, I very nearly skipped past eating at Din Tai Fung as there are Din Tai Fung outlets in Singapore and Sydney, so did I really want to waste my time and tummy real estate on this?
I was told, Yes, yes I did, as Din Tai Fung hailed from Taiwan and the quality of their dumplings there are way better than the ones found elsewhere. With that in mind, one early morning saw my sister and I walking towards Din Tai Fung from the MRT station.
The glass window, the line of dumpling makers, the intense concentration from the mask-clad workers… these are all Din Tai Fung’s signature. Be it Singapore, Sydney, or Taiwan, it seems at least that the branding is consistent with Din Tai Fung eager to draw folks in with their pre-meal show. (Din Tai Fung does have outlets in other parts of the world, but as I’ve never been to them, I cannot say for sure.)
Though a queue was forming outside the restaurant as we approached it, we were allowed to waltz right in thanks to the power of a booking.
Travelling Taiwan Tip #7:
If you know where you want to be dining for sure, make sure to call ahead and make a booking else you’d be stuck in queues for hours at the popular restaurants!
Din Tai Fung is known for their Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) which are little steamed bao/dumplings filled with meat and soup. Biting into one would release the flavourful soup and in that mouthful of tender bao skin, meat and soup, you will find the perfect balance of flavour and texture. Delicious! And since they were famous for it, how could I not order it?
Even so, I found the XLBs (NT95 for 5pcs) to be so-so. The skin was tender and smooth, but the flavouring was a little lacking. While tasty enough, there was no wow factor and I’ve actually had better XLBs before. Oh well.
Shrimp Noodle Soup with Vegetable and Bamboo Shoot (NT170) – what with the previous days of street food and greasy fried foods, the sister and I were keen to get something light to cleanse our systems. So we went with this noodle soup which was quite delightful. The noodles had a lovely bite to them, the soup was nice and clear and it was the perfect cleansing dish to refresh us once more for all the grease and oil out in the streets. (please note that the typical Australian palate will find this bland.)
Steamed Sticky Rice and Ground Pork Shiaomai (NT130 5pcs) were interesting as I’ve never seen them before. What a curious shape! Unfortunately this was bland with the ground pork not quite making up for the lack of flavour. Pity.
Pork Buns – forgot the price and didn’t take a pic of the menu, whoops! Skin was a little too thick, too much chewing involved. Still, the filling was tasty and while unmemorable, it definitely did its job of filling us up.
I’ve left the best for last: Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wonton (NT160 for 8pcs). The wontons had the softest skin possible that melt in your mouth, the fillings juicy and plump and the spicy sauce was to-die-for. Everything came together to make one hella of a dish and I would have licked the plate if I hadn’t been in polite company. (The other diners, not my sis). If there’s any reason to go back to Din Tai Fung, this would be it. YUM.
The total bill came up to a lot less than I had thought. It was actually extremely reasonable! I don’t remember the exact figures but it came up to less than 700 TWD (23 AUD) for the both of us. I don’t know how this compares with the local economy, but for me, this was an amazing price to pay for both of us at such a well known restaurant. I’d definitely come again.
Find Din Tai Fung in Taipei: