Din Tai Fung
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.
Fried Rice (brown rice)
One new thing we noticed is that DTF now offers brown rice. I actually really enjoy brown rice because the texture is so different from regular white rice. We decided to try the brown fried rice and I really liked it.
There’s only two things I like getting here: the XLB and the pork chop fried rice. But I always feel possessed to try something else. On this trip, we decided to check out a few more dumpling options.
Green Melon and Shrimp Dumplings
We had several tasty versions of this in Taiwan, but the ones at DTF are quite bland.
I mistakenly thought these would be made into the soup dumpling form, but instead they are more like classic dumplings. The fish flavor was too light and the dumplings were a little dry.
Red bean Steamed Rice Cake
I love how colorful this is and the texture of the cake. It has a little chewiness to it due to the rice flour.
Unlike the typical Chinese restaurant, the service here is very efficient. Despite what seems like an overwhelming amount of tables, the dishes arrive promptly and empty plates are removed quickly to make room for more. To prevent uneaten orders of dumplings from getting cold, they keep them covered up until you are ready to move on. For dessert, they even cleared our table and gave us new plates.
We had a bunch of leftovers, and I love the care they take in boxing them. Each leftover dish comes in a very cute box. In addition, they even give you extra containers of vinegar and ginger to be eaten with the dumplings.
You can order frozen dumplings to go, but the order must be placed about a day in advance (or at least the morning of). We’ve done it before and they are pretty good. They even provide you with instructions, steaming sheets, containers of vinegar and ginger, and they will provide ice packs and pack your cooler for you.
In Taiwan, they offer foie gras and truffle dumplings. I have yet to see them bring that variety to the US. Both Arcadia spots are always packed. Hopefully they will continue to expand in California.
Din Tai Fung
1088 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007