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Dining on the world’s best dumplings


Firstly, prepare the dipping sauce, which should comprise three parts vinegar, one part soy sauce, and a little shredded ginger.

 

 

Then, after placing the Xiao Long Bao (soup dumpling) on your spoon, poke a hole into it with a chopstick and ‘drink’ the contents.

 

Finally, devour its fine, almost translucent skin.

 

Repeat. Eat with plenty of jasmine tea.

 

At Din Tai Fung, they care nearly as much about how you eat your dumpling as how they make it – and looking through the glass windows of the open kitchen, at the meticulous way in which each dumpling is made (weighed and measured, with no less than 18 folds), that’s saying a lot.

 

There are even eating instructions on the table.

 

But there’s plenty more to Din Tai Fung than dumplings, as we soon find out.

 

 

Having just been to the top of Taiwan’s most famous landmark, Taipei 101, it’s only appropriate we eat at the country’s best-known restaurant chain, part of which is housed in 101’s swanky lower level mall.

 

Now something of an international phenomenon, Din Tai Fung comprises around eighty restaurants located throughout the Asia-Pacific area.

 

But Taipei is where it all started. And tourists still flock here.

 

The Japanese for one come by the droves, despite the presence of over a dozen DTF restaurants in Japan.

 

“The Japanese regard Din Tai Fung as the best dumpling restaurant in the world,” our local guide, Andrew tells us. And they’re no slouches for quality.

 

Even Tom Cruise visited this restaurant, as evidenced by the photographs adorning the eatery.

 

 

According to our host, Din Tai Fung Catering Senior Specialist, Tsui, the restaurant can turn a table over an incredible 19 times during lunch. And it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about.

 

As well as serving its signature Xiao Long Bao (with that sauce), the restaurant dishes up for us a feast of steamed goodies, ranging from the shrimp and pork Shao Mai and pot stickers, to the vegetarian and mushroom dumplings and buns.

 

Dim Sum aside, we’re served handmade noodles (in a light peanut and sesame gravy), tender handpicked greens, fluffy fried rice, a hot and sour soup, and an egg flower soup with tomatoes and tofu. Even an ordinary looking cucumber dish is outstanding, served in a chili and garlic sauce. For dessert, we are offered (and eagerly accept) semi-sweet steamed taro and red bean buns.

 

And then there are the dishes we don’t get to, of which there are plenty – I’m taking note for my next visit.

 

As we leave the restaurant, past the Din Tai Fung souvenir shop, there is a serious mass of people outside. I’m glad we got here early.

 

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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 24 February 2016


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