I always want to eat at Din Tai Fung when in Taipei. Famous for their steamed pork dumplings (xiao long bao), this famous chain originated in Taiwan and there are several locations in Taipei.
While we now have several US locations as well, I still think they taste slightly better in Taiwan, the menu has greater options, and it’s a different experience.
I didn’t take too many photos on this visit, which I’m regretting, since I wish I could share more visuals of some of the different aspects.
After we were seated, our server asked if we wanted the full introduction. We decided to let her go through everything and I actually learned a few things too. For instance, you are supposed to dip the dumplings in vinegar and soy sauce, but until now, I didn’t know that the ideal ratio (at least according to them) is one part soy sauce and 3 parts vinegar, mixed with the ginger provided.
If you are interested in the cold appetizers, they will actually bring out a display case showing you the choices.
This particular location we went to was quite spacious and the dumpling folding viewing area was much bigger compared to the views provided at all the US based locations I’ve been to.
Shrimp and Pork Potstickers
I love this version of cooking potstickers, so that they have a crispy bottom that extends beyond the dumpling. DTF’s is one of the prettiest I’ve seen, with a perfect rectangle connecting all the dumplings. I haven’t tried making it myself, but here’s an article from Serious Eats.
Pork Xiao Long Bao
Of course we had to order these. What makes Din Tai Fung’s dumplings so famous is the skin. I’ve had pork soup dumplings with perhaps more flavorful soup, but no other restaurant seems to be able to replicate the thin, elastic skin of Din Tai Fung. Most restaurants make skins that are far too thick and gummy and often break. The Din Tai Fung ones seems impossibly thin yet are quite pliable and it’s actually hard to break one.
DTF is known for their quality control. Each dumpling is weighed and has precisely 18 folds so that all the dumplings come out the same. The best way to eat is to blow on it slightly, dip it in your soy vinegar ginger mixture and then bite in. I usually eat with my soup spoon so as to catch the soup that will come out once you pierce the skin.
Squash and Shrimp Xiao Long Bao
I’ve ordered this in the US and found it bland and a little dry. The Taiwan version is much better. I think it may just have to do with the green squash that is available in the US as opposed to Taiwan.
Pork Chop Fried Rice
Always one of our favorites. The pork is well seasoned and tender and the fried rice is buttery and rich.
Each table also held a table number which was supported by this cute DTF character. I’m actually curious how many of these go “missing.” It’s probably why they don’t use them in the US, but instead just sell them as souvenirs.
In addition to more menu items, there is also an extensive souvenir collection. I’ve been collecting the various DTF souvenirs and was hoping to add more on this trip. Unfortunately they were out of the two I really wanted and I already own almost all the ones they did have in stock.
Overall, we had a good time here. In fact, it was probably our best visit yet because the wait wasn’t nearly as long. This is a relatively new store but the wait was far shorter (about 20ish minutes when we visited and no wait when we came back the next day to try to buy the souvenirs) compared to the more popular locations. It’s nicely located inside a Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store so you can do some browsing and shopping after. Also 8% Ice, a delicious ice cream place, is nearby too.
Tip: If you are visiting Taipei, I recommend visiting DTF. However, avoid the original location and Taipei 101 location. Both are extremely popular with tourists. The original one is very popular with Japanese tour groups. It’s very tiny and cramped. The Taipei 101 location is full of tourists from China. We passed by a few times and the lines were endless.
You might also like to check out my experience at another restaurant we’ve visited in Taiwan, Paradise Dynasty.
Din Tai Fung
inside Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (floor B2)
No. 12, Nanjing West Road, Zhongshan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 104