Guest Post: Din Tai Fung, an International Favorite
Our Brazilian friends took a trip to a local favorite and offered to write a guest post! Without further ado:
I discovered Din Tai
Fung almost by accident. I went to Burlington Coat Factory to buy a real coat
(because, being a Brazillian, I never needed one in my life before). It was a
Sunday. I have to confess, Sunday for me is the day to be lazy (more than the
usual). So I usually finish my Sunday breakfast by noon. By the time I got out
of Burlington it was 4PM, which on Sundays means lunch time, and me and my
husband were starving. So I got my phone, started Google maps and entered
“restaurant”. Very nearby there was this Din Tai Fung featuring 26 on ZAGAT
(which later I discovered meant nearly perfection, which they surely deserve).
So we decided to give it a try. The front desk of the restaurant was crowded
(4PM of Sunday?!), but needing only a table for two, we were in in less than 5
Din Tai Fung specialty
are the dumplings, but they also serve fried rice, noodle soups and many
different options of vegetables (by the way, they serve more than 20 different
vegetarian dishes). They welcome every guest with a complimentary kettle of hot
Jasmin Tea, which is great because not only it’s one of my favorites and it’s
free, but also because they don’t have many options to the annoying ones that
don’t drink soda (like myself). So I skipped all beverages and just kept
sipping happily at my Jasmin Tea. We ordered the Pork and Shrimp Shao Mai
(because we saw it on the neighboring table), the Pork Dumpling and the Shrimp
Ok, now I’ll try to
describe the food. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll try to avoid repeating
letters to show emphasis (it was
amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazzziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnngg!!!! Ok, just this time).
Pork and Shrimp Shao Mai
The Pork Shao Mai is a
teeny tiny purse made of very thin, very light and translucent dough, filled
with pork and with a shrimp on the top. You might think pork and shrimp is a
very unusual combination (I also thought at first), but believe me, it’s great.
The pork is very juicy and well-seasoned, and the shrimp, well, you got be a pretty
lousy cook to ruin shrimp in my opinion, so it was very good. The Pork Dumpling
is made of the same thin, light and translucent dough, but instead of looking
like a teeny tiny purse it looks like a wonton. The pork dumpling is filled
with the same well-seasoned pork but with a plus! It has a wonderful broth on
the inside that is as delicious as is hot, so be careful not to burn your mouth
like I did (it was worth it, my mouth is full of water just from remembering
the broth, burning aside). Both the Shao Mai and the dumpling are steamed,
which make then even lighter. The fried rice was very oily in a good way (yes,
I think that’s possible), it was very light, the shrimp was even better than on
the Shao Mai, cooked to perfection, and it had plenty of eggs and green onions
on it, so to summarize, great!
You might think that
all this goodness would come at a high price, but it didn’t. Altogether, it
came to less than 35 dollars (20% gratuity included). I made a mental note to
myself to come back to Din Tai Fung whenever possible.
Then last month, there
I was again, on a lazy Sunday, 4PM, in Arcadia, hungry. We decided to give it a
try. The hostess asked us to go to the back of the building, that we could get
a table there without any wait! It sounded suspicious, but the pork dumpling
broth memory was too strong. So we went all the way around the building, and
found another Din Tai Fung! And they had a table for us! No wait! Again!
Apparently they got
sick of having 2 hour wait lines all day and bought a new place that is right
in the back of the original restaurant (and I suspect they share the same
kitchen). The new place is very beautiful and big (bigger than the original
restaurant), but was crowded either way (by the time we left that wait
“forecast” was 45 minutes). So I guess they will have to buy more areas soon.
Pork and Vegetable Dumplings
This time we decided
to order the Pork and Shrimp Shao Mai, the fried rice and the Pork and Veggie
dumpling. They were great once again. The Pork and Veggie dumpling also have
the same great hot broth inside (yep, I got burned again), but instead of being
filled with juicy pork it was filled with juicy pork mixed with some veggies
The bill was once
again 35 dollars (no dessert), fair price for a meal that is supposed to keep
two people feed until late Sunday night (when I usually make a hot chocolate
and call it a day).
By the way, another
great advice I have for you is to stop at the JJ Bakery that is just across
from the “original” Din Tai Fung. It’s a Japanese bakery with all kinds of
different, fresh and delicious pastries and breads. Ask for the Japanese Cream
Puff, a light, airy pastry filled with a rich cream, almost non-sweet (it seems
that all Japanese candies are very low in sweetness, but they manage to make it
delicious either way). Enjoy with your hot chocolate later!
So, if you want to
know the secret to get a table in Din Tai Fung, this is it: be lazy! Go on a
Sunday, midafternoon, take just your loved one, have one delicious meal, and
feel filled until 9 PM!