It’s been quite a while since we visited Din Tai Fung, the restaurant chain famous for their pork soup dumplings (xiao long bao).

LA has quite a few offerings for XLB, most much cheaper than DTF. Even though I think DTF is a little overhyped, I still think they make the best XLB. The skin is impossibly thin but manages to not break unless you exert great force. The filling proportion is just right and has a good amount of soup contained in each one.

Arcadia has two restaurants, but they are right next to each other. One is the original one and the other is the new one. I prefer to dine at the newer one because it’s bigger so the wait is usually much shorter.

Despite the large crowds, the wait is usually not too long. They definitely have a fast turnaround rate. The whole system is very impressive, from their service where everyone has a headset to communicate, to the quality control of the dumplings, where they weigh every single dumpling being made to guarantee each one is the same.

On this most recent visit, they now let you leave your number, so that they’ll call you when your table is ready. This allows you to wander around and browse some shops rather than stand around the small crowded waiting area.

I’ve always been in love with the adorable Din Tai Fung mascot. I didn’t realize there was a statute of it at Arcadia until this visit, mainly because it’s constantly blocked by the customers waiting. I managed to snap a quick photo before it was blocked again. Apparently, you can buy all sorts of souvenir toys with the mascot from the original restaurant in Taiwan. I’m extremely sad I didn’t learn this until recently, as I visited the original restaurant last time I went back to Taiwan and would have come back with an armload of souvenirs if I knew. Unfortunately, no souvenirs are sold at the LA store. I’m not sure why. I’m sure people would be interested.

Pork Xiao Long Bao

The classic pork dumplings and what they are most known for. We always get at least two orders.

Pork Chop Fried Rice

Next to the XLB, this is our favorite. The pork is well seasoned and goes really well with the fried rice.

Only a few more days until Easter! I saw quite a few pictures on blogs of people making brownies studded with Cadbury Eggs in the last few weeks, prompting me to make one too. It’s actually what got me interested in trying a Cadbury creme egg and making the discovery that I really enjoy them.

I love how the open Cabdury eggs look on top, though some melted in more than others.

MARU lounge

Earlier this month, while running errands, we noticed a sign for MARU Lounge, occupying the previous Cafe Venti.

The restaurant, which opened earlier this month, is yet another Korean fusion restaurant. There’s been so many that have opened in the last year that I’ve lost count.

The menu is fairly simple. One sheet, consisting of food on one side and drinks on the other. The interior has a large bar area, tables, and a tv monitor showing a photo reel of their menu and drink highlights.

Like most other Korean fusion places we’ve been to, the lighting was dim and the music was fairly loud.

Fried Chicken Bowl (fusion bibimbap with mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce)

Being a big fan of Korean style fried chicken and of bibimbaps, I was definitely curious about this one. Unfortunately, the rice portions touching the stone plate never developed crusty exterior that is what makes bibimbaps so enjoyable. The flavor was good. In addition to mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce, there was a hot sauce and cubes of fries chicken. However, I really missed the crispy rice.

Bulgogi Fries

This was described as similar to carne asada fries, but with bulgogi meat and sauteed onions and peppers. We liked the thin crispy fries they used but there needed to be much more topping. Carne asada fries are usually covered in meat and cheese so you can get cheese and meat with each bite of fry. Here, the toppings didn’t stick to the fries at all. You basically had to eat them separately, or put them together manually with a fork. I liked the concept, but it needs some tweaking.

Bulgogi Udon

This was our favorite dish of the night. Thick udon noodles are stir fried with bulgogi meat, and again peppers and onions. We did notice that there were green and red peppers in virtually every dish we ordered, even ones when it didn’t quite seem to work. It did work for this one though and I liked this fusion of Korean and Japanese.