Ding Tai Fung {China}

>>  Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I must sound like a broken record by now. And you must think I’m a bit cuckoo to be visiting seemingly every Din Tai Fung under the sun.

But haven’t I told you the story of how dumplings are the one food I would choose to eat if I could just eat one thing forever? Or how Din Tai Fung is one of my favorite restaurants in the world?

Is it that crazy to try to visit all the Din Tai Fungs in the world?

Don’t answer that.

Ding Tai Fung in Beijing

The first Din Tai Fung we visited on this trip was the one in Beijing. This is, I think, the prettiest Din Tai Fung I have ever visited. It is located at the top floor of the ritzy Shing Kong Place shopping center. Just like every other Din Tai Fung, here you can peer through a glass window to watch the dumpling makers (always all men) churning out perfectly formed little xiao long baos (soup dumplings).

Don't they look like they are in a clean room? 

Of course we had to get our favorite staples: the classic pork xiao long bao (58 RMB for 10) and my favorite vegetable pork dumplings. But there were some new and unusual flavors we’d never seen before.

Black truffle and pork soup dumplings? Goose liver dumplings?

Well, we both love truffles and Bryan loves fois gras, so we went with one of each. Hairy crabs were also in season, so we decided to get the famous crab dumplings as well.

My opinions still hold.

Din Tai Fung is still one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Everything was executed perfectly. The black truffle dumplings were to-die-for: a perfect bite of heaven filled with black truffle earthiness and the savory, juicy umami of pork. At 88 RMB ($13 US for 5 pieces), they weren't cheap. In fact, they cost just about 23 times more than the pork dumplings at Jia Jia Tang Bao.

Hairy Crab Dumplings

Bryan enjoyed his goose liver dumplings very much (68 RMB for 5 pieces), and we both though the hairy crab dumplings were better than any other crab dumpling we’d ever had. It’s hard to describe it . . . the crab flavor was just really sweet, rich, and . . . incredibly flavorful.

Perhaps it's because they were in season at the time.

I even told Bryan, “this crab dumpling might replace the pork-vegetable dumpling as my favorite dumpling at Din Tai Fung.”

Pork Vegetable Dumplings (58 RMB for 10)

Ha ha, that was before I tried the black truffle one.

Now I have no idea which one is my favorite, they are all so good!

Mini Pork Xiao Long Bao (78 RMB for 20 pieces)

We also tried the mini-soup pork xiao long baos. Though these are cute and fun, they don’t compare in flavor to the crab, black truffle, or even the pork xiao long baos at Jia Jia Tang Bao.

Stir Fried Pea Shoots (45 RMB)

We also got some non-dumpling dishes, all of which are excellent. In general, I love how stir-fried vegetables at Din Tai Fung are crispy, not over-cooked, and not that greasy at all. Portion sizes are on the small side, but I don’t mind that.

Everything is well executed at this restaurant. If you only had one day in China, I would pick this place just because you can try such a variety of dishes and be pretty confident that they will all be executed very, very well.

Yes, I know it's bit weird to be trying out a Taiwanese chain in China, but I truly do think they still make the best dumplings.

The closest Din Tai Fung to us in Shanghai was the one at Xintiandi, a popular upscale shopping area not too far from People's Square. Din Tai Fung is on the second floor of the indoor mall in the Xintiandi area.

Din Tai Fung in Shanghai

We came here almost every evening after coming back from the World Expo. This location also had the delicious black truffle dumplings, which we gladly ordered. We found the crab dumplings to be very good, but they did not have the same mind-blowing, out-of-this-world flavor compared to those in Beijing. Again, we're not sure why that's the case.

Nevertheless, everything was still excellent and we gladly ate here multiple nights.

Sauteed Morning Glory with Garlic (35 RMB, Hollow heart, Chinese watercress, kong xin tsai)

Don't forget the dessert xiao long baos! We tried both red bean and taro. Bryan preferred the red bean, but I much prefer the taro, which I find a little less sweet. It's the perfect way to finish off a wonderful meal! We also tried the black sesame rice balls, which were good as well.

Red Bean Xiao Long Bao (19 RMB for 5)

Taro Xiao Long Bao  (19 RMB for 5)

Black Sesame Rice Ball Soup (30 RMB a bowl)

I clearly love this restaurant and highly recommend it for anyone who is visiting China, Taiwan, or even Los Angeles!  I heard they just opened one up in Bellevue, Washington!!! (sooo jealous!!!)

Din Tai Fung (Beijing)
6/F Shin Kong Place, China Central Place
87 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District
朝阳区, 建国路87号, 新光天地6楼

Din Tai Fung (Shanghai)
South Block Xintiandi Ln
123 Xingye Lu
House 6 (Huangpi Lu)
Shanghai, China 200031

This is part 9 of the China Series detailing my recent trip to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. 
Other posts in this series: 
part 2: Xian'r Lao Man (handmade dumplings)
part 3: Made in China (Peking duck)
part 4: Noodle Bar (hand pulled noodles)
part 5: Bao Yuan Dumpling (handmade dumplings)
part 6: Da Dong (Peking duck)
part 7: Jia Jia Tang Bao (Soup dumplings / xiao long bao)
part 8: Yang's Fry Dumpling (Pan fried steamed buns / shen jian bao)

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