Din Tai Fung – Xiao Long Bao and More Than That
As I have mentioned in the latest post about 4 Things Make Taipei 101 An Iconic Building Of Taiwan. Enjoying a meal at Din Tai Fung restaurant is one of the most interesting experiences I have ever had in this skyscraper. Therefore, I tried to search for more information about this notable restaurant and some of their secrets in building their prestige as the 5-star Michelin restaurant.
Din Tai Fung’s History – From Zero To Hero
Din Tai Fung, at first, was not a restaurant. It was a small store producing and selling oil. It belongs to Mr. Bing Yi-Yang and his wife. Since having more than 10 years in operation of the oil company before, Mr. Yang decided to open his own store, named it Din Tai Fung. Unfortunately, the business didn’t work well. In such economic hardship, his wife came up with an idea of selling Xiao Long Bao, the steamed pork soup dumplings to save their business from bankruptcy. Soon, these small dumplings not only save Mr. Yang’s business but also thrive. Therefore, Mr. Yang decided to develop his business from a store selling oil to a dumpling restaurant, where a legend was born.
Now, the name of Din Tai Fung is recognized everywhere, from the domestic island to all around the world. Din Tai Fung chain, in Taiwan particularly, has 12 restaurants. A special one is under the highest Taipei 101 Tower.
Din Tai Fung – Where Taiwanese Traditional Cuisine on Your Table
When speaking of the must-try dish in Din Tai Fung, people always recommend the Xiao Long Bao, which is a signature at the restaurant. However, this brand offers you more than that, it is about Taiwanese stunning meals. Indeed, the restaurant has over 70 dishes with different combinations of ingredients, ways of cooking, and so on. Therefore, I really recommend you to try multiple dishes beside the best sellers, so that you can enjoy fully all Taiwanese traditional vibes. If you still can not figure out which one you should try, here is my suggestion:
1. Xiao Long Bao
As you may know, people eager to visit Din Tai Fung for its Xiao Long Bao that nowhere has, and this one, also the one spreads out the name of Din Tai Fung all over the world.
To more details, Xiao Long Bao means a small dumpling, it is made from a variety of fillings such as pork, crab, shrimp, chicken, and even fancy truffle mushroom. But, that is not the best part, a thing making a wonderful, notable Xiao Long Bao is the super-thin wrapper from outside that makes your lovely dumplings taste fresh, chewy but not too boring by the thick wrapper.
Needless to say, Xiao Long Bao is always served in a hot bamboo basket to make sure customers can enjoy them as freshly as possible. To enjoy Xiao Long Bao in the right way. First, make the sauce by mixing soy sauce, vinegar and some sliced ginger. Then, take a piece of Long Bao and dip it into a sauce made before. Lastly, put it into your spoon, poke a hole on dumpling to release broth and enjoy the combination with some sliced ginger. There are 2 sizes of Xiao Long Bao you can choose, 5 pieces/TWD 100, and 10 pieces/TWD 210, depends on the fillings.
2. Stewed Beef Noodles
There are 3 points I love most about this dish. First, super-rich broth coming from beef bones and Chinese herbs which are stewed in hours, not richness coming from the seasoning. Second, freshly made egg noodles. Can you imagine? The noodle is super chewy but tender that keeps me eating more and more. Furthermore, a special point of this amazing noodle is that it is not easily breakable in broth. The merit that not many food stalls have. Finally, the stewed beef. Despite hours of stewing, beef meats are still in pieces and so tender that it melts in my mouth like butter. Besides beef noodles, Din Tai Fung also creates many other combinations of noodles that can blow your mind up such as Chicken Noodle Soup, Pork Chopped Noodles, or fancy Truffle Chicken Noodle Soup, you name it.
3. Steamed Shrimp and Pork Dumplings
Besides the notable Xiao Long Bao, dumplings are also a choice you should give a try. Unlike, Xiao Long Bao, which has a unique thin wrapper, dumplings have a thicker wrapper, but they are seasoned well. So, if you are a die-hard fan of dumplings, Din Tai Fung is your heaven.
4. Shaohsing Wine Marinated Chicken
Shaohsing wine is a condiment familiar with Chinese cooks. It is used in a variety of dishes in order to boost the flavour of a dish. Shaohsing wine marinated chicken in Din Tai Fung is an example. Chicken legs are carefully selected and separated from bones before getting simmered in Shaohsing wine and secret condiments. Visually, the dish looks stunning, chicken is chopped into pieces with the same dimension. About the flavour, chicken is tender, well – seasoned, simple but elegant. Last but not least, the finishing scent of Shaohsing wine gave me a new experience I can’t describe clearly.
And Some Other Dishes
I believe the 4 dishes above will not get your stomach fulfilled, especially if you come to the restaurant with a ‘try-everything’ mind. Hence, perhaps 1 or 2 more dishes will satisfy yourself, and please your mind from looking for more food to try.
And if you say yes for more dishes, I suggest you trying their House Special and the Chicken Soup. To elaborate, one is an appetizer to begin your meal, and one to end your meal. Those may look simple but trust me, those are mouth-watering. I have the pictures above, but I will leave the true taste for you to discover. Have a try!
The success Din Tai Fung has achieved does not only come from its dishes, but it also comes from the way this restaurant delivers convenient feelings to its gastronomes before and after the meal.
Their Super Professional Service
Since achieving the 5-star Michelin label, Din Tai Fung serves over 1000 guests in a day and this number soars on holidays or in tourist seasons. This raises the question of how the restaurant could maintain its high-quality services up until now. In my opinion, Din Tai Fung’s managers know this fact and they have figured out a way to keep their customers waiting in the best pleasant, comfortable way.
1. Turning a Tedious Waiting Duration into a Short-time Trip for Customers
When you enter the restaurant, you will be not allowed to enter inside immediately like other typical restaurants because of the lack of seat capacity. Hence, the waiters of Din Tai Fung will help you order your meal first by giving you their menu papers. When the order is completed, the waiter will give you a number. It is time when you can enter the inside and enjoy your meal. To remind your turn, the restaurant has an electric board announcing the number in front of the restaurant. Hence, you can go exploring more somewhere before returning to the restaurant to get your meal. This will reduce your waiting time but give you more chances to get to know more about the city.
2. Customer-centred Mindset
One thing that makes me like Din Tai Fung is that the restaurant really cares about the feelings its customers might have during the meals. When you enter inside, there will be a waiter/waitress ask you to put your belongings such as hats, purses, jackets, or coats in a basket covered by a piece of cloth to keep your belongings away from being plastered with soy sauce. While you are waiting for dishes, hot black tea will be served to you.
Furthermore, during your meal, the waiter will manage which time to deliver your dishes that could keep them warm and fresh enough for you to enjoy the meal fully. In addition, if you’re curious about how to make awesome Xiao Long Bao, Din Tai Fung pleases you with an area where many cooks produce these small dumplings in full process. So, you can enjoy your dish whereas observing skilful cooks making dumplings.
In sum, I just want to say that if you have a chance to visit this amazing island, go eating at Din Tai Fung is one of the must-try experience you should have. Believe me, the bill could be kind of spendy, but it’s worth a once in a lifetime experience.
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READ MORE ABOUT TAIWANESE CUISINE
Is this post make you interesting in Din Tai Fung foods in particular, or Taiwanese cuisine in general? If you would like to discover more about the country and its foods, here are posts that I suggest you to read: