Dubbed as a world-renowned Chinese restaurant that originates in Taiwan, Din Tai Fung specializes in soup dumplings and noodles. Let us take a closer look at some facts that make Din Tai Fung so good.
If you have visited Taiwan, you would know that this country is known for the best dumplings in the world. And if you are an Asian food fan, you would also know that a restaurant perfected the art and the science of the perfect Xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, which is Din Tai Fung.
What is so good about Din Tai Fung?
History Of Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is surely a place to indulge your senses and experience “heaven”, as what the word transcribes. Though the original Din Tai Fung is located in Taiwan, they also have branches all over the world including the United States, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and more countries.
Unique food and restaurants from China, like Din Tai Fung, have substantial stories about their beginnings and their evolution. It was founded originally as a cooking oil retail business in 1958 with its founder Yang Bing Yi. In 1972, it was changed as a steamed dumpling and noodle restaurant back in Taipei, Taiwan.
The first international location was opened in Tokyo in 1996, while in the year 2000, the first location in North America opened in Arcadia, California. 2009 is a special year for them as they were awarded one Michelin star at their Hong Kong branch.
Right now, Din Tai Fung restaurant has 7 locations in California, 5 locations in the Pacific Northwest and more than 170 restaurants in 13 countries worldwide. They have evolved into a new resort restaurant that offers a lively show kitchen with skilled chefs displaying the craftsmanship that goes into the creation of each handcrafted famous soup dumplings.
All About Dumplings
One major specialty of Din Tai Fung restaurant is its dumplings or Xiao long bao. They offer a variety of this Din Tai Fung’s famous delicacy including pork dumplings and steamed dumplings. These soup dumplings are served with other dishes such as fried pork chop, fried rice, or dim sum dishes.
Din Tai Fung soup dumplings are so precious that in 2006, the Shanghai government listed them as a protected national treasure. Their cultural impact is not only important and substantial in China, but it also negated across borders and affected global cuisine for dumpling makers.
One great example of Din Tai Fung soup dumplings influence is the Georgian (Russia) snack that resembles an oversized Xiao Long Bao. It is said that it originated when the Mongols brought dumplings with them in the 13th century via the Silk Road from China.
During the era when the steamed-bun market was becoming increasingly competitive in the late 19th-century, Din Tai Fung created their original smaller Xiao Long Bao or little dumpling. The addition of aspic, a jellified meat stock that melts into a flavored broth once the buns are steamed, is what sets the Din Tai Fung Xiao long bao higher than other Chinese restaurants that offer steamed dumplings.
Making the so-called broth filled dumplings during the 19th century is time consuming as you need to boil animal bones and leave the broth to simmer for several hours to create the aspic filling. It is then left to cool and set to gelatin.
The pork dumplings were originally named nanxiang da rou mantou, which translates as ‘large meat-filled bun from Nanxiang’. As the time goes by, its name has changed to xiao long bao that literally translates as small basket bun.
Din Tai Fung’s pork dumplings are juicy, with flavorful meat fillings covered by light, thin dough. Their version of Shanghai dumplings are made with a well-seasoned, savory pork filling wrapped in a thin wheat-flour skin. They are steamed gently on bamboo racks and the juices of the steamed buns forming the soup.
Their famous soup dumplings also offer shrimp and pork steamed dumplings, as well as vegetable steamed dumplings. It comes with finely chopped fresh bok choy (Chinese white cabbage) mixed with savory rice or fried rice, wrapped and steamed.
Aside from the delicious soup dumpling, Din Tai Fung is also known for the people working at this Chinese restaurant who also contribute to one of the reasons why they are so good. Not only do they provide excellent service, but their wide smile would definitely make someone else’s day.
On top of that, their years of experience working in the field of hospitality management provides excellent customer experience. Din Tai Fung also offers opportunities for career advancement, often roles in shops that have opened abroad. You can find most of their servers who are multilingual, with name tags that feature country flags representing all of the languages that each team member speaks.
The Process of Making Din Tai Fung Famous Xiao Long Bao
To ensure you’ll enjoy eating xiao long bao, the dumpling makers work in a refrigerated environment that is the most ideal of conditions to make the delicious food. To be precise, the dumplings have exactly 21 grams of filling. To catch up if an error occurs, a plus or minus 0.4 grams margin is also provided.
The precise 18 folds of their dumplings have a significant meaning according to Chinese traditions. 1 and 8 sounds like yao fa in Mandarin which means ‘to get rich.’ It is a sound of luck, longevity or money-making.
If you want to eat xiao long bao properly, pick it up carefully using chopsticks from the top nubbin where the folds come together and place it gently on a soup spoon. Put or dip some vinegar and garnish with a little bit of slivered ginger.
To avoid burning your mouth, pop it out and eat slowly. But due to its excellent flavor, others would pop the entire thing all in one bite, though the risk of getting your mouth burnt is high. Due to the thinner skin of the dumplings, you will get the flavorful soup to burst onto the tongue, delivering a powerful punch of flavor without being oppressed by the dough.
To top it up, the soup dumpling at Din Tai Fung has gone through a serious quality control process. This is to ensure that what you will get in each noodle soup will be the famous Din Tai Fung taste.
What To Order At Din Tai Fung
If you’ve found your way to this famous Chinese restaurant one day, here are some guides on what to order on their menu.
Soup Dumpling/Xiao Long Bao
Of course, this would be the top of the lists as this is the original menu item that made Din Tai Fung famous. The thin skin of the dumplings allows you to see through the juicy, meaty filling.
If you are going for a basket of this delicate treat, you are definitely in for a very good experience. On the American menu, there are three variations available. That includes hearty and savory pork buns, umami Pork and Crab, and lastly, the rich and funky Truffle and Pork.
Sauteed String Beans
If you want some healthier option, these sautéed greens will treat your palate. Their American offerings have seven types, which some claim have been influenced by American food trends like sautéed kale.
Din Tai Fung Chinese restaurants offer the three most traditional vegetables: string beans, spinach, and bok choy. Their quick stir-fry technique is outstanding as it allows the preservation of the lovely green color of the vegetables. The sticky, corn-starch-heavy garlic sauce that coats the green veggies provides the best flavor.
Steamed bun started as a street food, and later on, it made the cut to the tables of many high-end Chinese restaurants. Savory filling options include the pork bun and vegetable and pork buns.
There are also sweet options like red bean, sesame, and taro. They are perfect as desserts as it offers not so sweet flavor.