Din Tai Fung recently opened a new branch inside the high-end shopping mall South Coast Plaza, located in Costa Mesa.
I was initially concerned about how this new one would be because I wasn’t a fan of the Glendale one, also located in a high-end shopping plaza and catering to a more American audience. But after hearing some good reviews for this one, we stopped in to check it out.
Like the Glendale location, this one has a full bar and also makes boba tea drinks.
During the opening week, customers were reporting wait times up to 3-4 hours. We went on Saturday evening, and I was surprised when they estimated only a 1 hour wait. You give them your phone number and the computer system is set up to text you a few minutes before your table is almost ready, so you don’t have to stand around and wait. We took the time to go shopping at Uniqlo, a popular clothing store from Japan selling trendy clothes at accessible prices, which was situated right below Din Tai Fung.
Like the Glendale one, the Costa Mesa one also offers the truffle dumpling. We really love the flavor of this dumpling. The meat filling is mixed with a piece of truffle, so that as it cooks, the truffle flavors drips into the filling, making this a very flavorful and aromatic bite. It’s not cheap, but it’s a nice little treat.
Pork Xiao Long Bao
The pork xlb is the dish that made Din Tai Fung so famous. Each dumpling is weighed and has exactly 18 pleats, for quality control. The dumplings have a ground pork and soup filling. It’s quite flavorful and what is really impressive about DTF is their wrappers. If you’ve eaten XLB elsewhere, the wrappers are often broken or are extremely thick. DTF ones always arrive intact and despite being extremely thin, they actually have quite a bit of elasticity so they don’t break easily.
How to eat XLB: There were some people sitting near us that weren’t familiar with the technique on how to eat these dumplings, so I thought I’d explain. When you order the dumplings, you’ll be given a plate with fresh ginger. On the table should be black vinegar. You add this to your plate of ginger and mix it a little so the ginger is incorporated in the vinegar. Then, you dip the steaming hot dumpling in the vinegar ginger mixture before putting it in your mouth. The sauce helps cool the dumpling so that you don’t burn your mouth. It also adds an extra flavor dimension to the dumplings.
One issue with our XLB on this visit was that the second order actually got a little cold. Their method is always to only open one, and keep the others covered, so that they don’t ever get cold. Perhaps because they were using wooden steamers instead of the metal ones, the second order were lukewarm by the time we got to them, even though they were covered. This is actually the first time we’ve ever had this problem at a DTF.
Pork Chop Fried Rice
We also got the pork chop with brown fried rice. This is also one of our favorites. The rice is pretty simplistic, but it has a wonderful savoriness to it that makes it particularly addicting. The fried pork chop is also well-seasoned and not too fatty.
Overall, we were pretty pleased with our visit here. They had some issues they were still working out, but I’m happy there is a location closer to San Diego and I imagine I’ll frequent this one more in the future.
Din Tai Fung (inside South Coast Plaza)
3333 Bristol St
Space 2071 Upper Level By Sears
Costa Mesa, CA 92626