Din Tai Fung opened it’s third Los Angeles branch last week, located at The Americana in Glendale.
One thing that made this opening particularly exciting is the offering of truffle dumplings, the only Din Tai Fung location in the US currently offering them.
In addition to offering truffle dumplings, this location also has a bar area and specialty cocktail drinks. This DTF definitely strives to make its restaurant more “American friendly.” Unlike the Arcadia locations, the restaurant is staffed predominantly with Caucasian servers. The interior also has a more sleek and modern look, rather than the simpler, no-frills appearances of the two Arcadia branches.
The menu prices are also slightly higher than the Arcadia prices (about $.50 higher).
Pork Chop Fried Brown Rice
We started with one of our favorites. This was on par with the quality we’ve had in Arcadia and in Taiwan. The pork pieces are tender, moist and well-seasoned. It’s a popular entree at DTF.
At $22.50 for 5 pieces, it’s definitely on the pricey side. Truffle dumplings first appeared at the Taiwan DTF locations a few years ago. It’s definitely cheaper in Taiwan as well. I’ve never actually had it in Taiwan even though I visit a DTF every time I go to Taiwan. My aunt and uncle always treat us and I don’t feel comfortable asking for the most expensive dish on the menu.
When the dumplings arrived, the truffle aroma was quite strong. I immediately dissected one to examine the contents. The pork meat is speckled with truffle bits and on top of each pork morsel sits a generous shaving of black truffle. Unlike some low quality black truffles I’ve tasted, the truffle essence was quite strong. If you enjoy truffle, you’ll likely savor each bite of this dumpling.
For each of mine, I drank the soup first, then ate the truffle scented pork and then removed the truffle piece and ate it slowly, tiny bites at a time, letting it slowly dissipate onto my tongue. I tried to stretch it out as long as possible.
Was it worth it? Yes they are a little pricey, but I think they are worth the indulgence.
We also got two orders of the famous pork dumplings, which is what made DTF so famous in the first place. DTF takes great pride in making sure every dumpling is of the same quality, weighing them, making sure each dumpling has precisely 18 pleats, etc. I’ve tried many DTF locations over the years, and I’ve always been impressed that the quality really is uniform throughout all the places I’ve eaten at.
One thing we immediately noticed with our first dumpling order was that the dumplings didn’t look quite the same. The skins seemed to sag, the dumplings didn’t look as plump and perfect. Upon biting in, the skin seemed thicker or dryer. Obviously it’s a new restaurant and they are still working out the kinks, but something was definitely off with either the dumping skins or the cooking time. One of them actually broke when Mr. K was trying to grab it, which was also a first. I’ve always marveled at how impossibly elastic the skin seems despite its thin and delicate nature and I’ve never had one break on me before.
We were relieved when our second batch came out. They were plump and juicy and looked and tasted more like they should.
The service was friendly, though definitely still trying to find their rhythm. The Arcadia locations run a very smooth operation, no mater how busy they are. At this location, orders were screwed up quite often, though they were really apologetic about it.
Overall thoughts: If you want to try the truffle dumpling, give this place a visit. I’d wait a few weeks because the wait times here have been really long and plus the restaurant is still working things out.
If you don’t plan on getting truffle dumplings, skip this location and drive to Arcadia. The prices are lower, the food is the same and the wait time is less (at least for now).
Tip: They do validate three hours of free parking at the valet service right in front of the restaurant.
You can read my most recent visit to the Arcadia branch here.
Din Tai Fung
171 Caruso Ave
Glendale, California 91210