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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taiwan: Din Tai Fung!

After almost a week in Taipei, we were finally settling in for the world’s most popular dumpling chain, Din Tai Fung.  With its stores ever so popular around the globe, we headed back to its humble roots which now spans 4 storeys towards the sky.  Queues are long even in the night.  Grab a number and you can go shopping because you know your turn isn’t until an hour’s wait is over.  But when its your turn, I guess there is a lot to drool about.  Its menu is impressive which definitely changes the initial thoughts that they only serve dumplings!

To start our meal, we ordered the drunken chicken!DSC_1728With a subtle taste of rice wine, it had a very pleasant fragrant.  Its chicken was cooked to near perfection and was really easy to eat.  I would not normally eat dishes which have lots of alcohol but this was really quite nice!


Pork Xiao Long Bao!DSC_1732Juicy pork dumplings were all the hype in Din Tai Fung.  Was it deserving or did the hype kill it?  Unfortunately, the later has prevailed as perfect skin and pork mince were marred by mediocre soup.  Could have done with a little more salt definitely!  For me what is the point of biting into a soup dumpling if the soup tastes bland @@!? 


Next was the prawn dumpling!DSC_1741While presentation counts, its not edible. With me having near perfect prawn dumplings from HK, Din Tai Fung definitely needed to up its game if it were to make me sway.  Unfortunately, back to my previous complains, prefect ingredients but too little seasoning.  What a waste of juicy prawns to be honest.  With that being said, Din Tai Fung is NOT HORRIBLE or BAD.  It just did not deserve the hype/craze that has been surrounding it.  Seriously, talk about hype :(!



In addition to the dumplings we also called a fried rice to share.  This was probably one of the best dishes that night! Perfect fried rice with no ingredients being spared. Generous bits of egg and prawns nestling among perfect grains of rice were definitely something worth mentioning!DSC_1745Additionally, we called the chicken version of the Xiao Long Bao which was almost impossible to differentiate between it and the pork one.  The only thing that gave it away was probably how one mince was darker than the other! Also, we ordered a bowl of beef stew and herbal chicken soup which to me was another blend failure. 


There was a stark contrast between the Taipei food culture which I have been experiencing up until now compared to Din Tai Fung.  In the night markets, we get stinky tofu, massive chunks of seasoned fried chicken, juicy pork buns and so many other strong flavoured foods.  Where as, in this crowned jewel of Taiwan, I felt cheated or fazed by the lack of taste.  Like I mentioned before, it was not horrible to the extent of disgust but rather a feeling of disappointment.