Sunday, March 27, 2016

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) Taipei 101 branch [Taiwan Day 938 (Delicious Taiwan): Din Tai Fung - March 26, 2016]


I had finally visited Taiwan's famous dumpling restaurant – Din Tai Fung. It had been more than 900 days since I first came to Taiwan but it never came to my mind to dine here. I was waiting for the right opportunity and this inaugural post for my Taiwanese food series “Delicious Taiwan” was the perfect time that I was waiting for. Its humble beginnings as an oil store which later evolved as a dumpling restaurant serves as an inspiration of success in the Taiwanese food business.


Visitors to the island's capital come to the Taipei 101 branch to experience eating “xiaolongbao” and watch as the workers make dumplings. The word of mouth for this restaurant keeps spreading like a virus to the different parts of the world. Recently, it opened its branch in the Philippines allowing Filipinos to have a taste of Taiwanese cuisine. I would not allow myself to lose the opportunity to dine in Din Tai Fung especially at its Taipei 101 branch. I prepared my stomach and as well as my wallet for this unforgettable first-time dinner in Din Tai Fung. 



Be prepared for the crowd!
average waiting time for dine in

How to get to the Taipei 101 branch? Just board the MRT and alight at the Taipei 101 Station. Go to Exit 4 and find yourself surprised by the towering landmark of Taiwan once you get out of the underpass. You will easily notice the big restaurant of Din Tai Fung at the B1 Floor where a large crowd waits for their numbers to be called. Lunch and dinner is a prime time and average waiting time to get a seat for a group of people is 80 minutes. 


My number was 1124 and the current number being called was 1085.
I was given this order slip while I was still on queue.

There are actually different queueing systems for customers: 1-2 persons, 3-4 persons, 5-6 persons and more than 7 people. I went directly to the staff and told them that I was alone and they gave me immediately a ticket number. More than 100 persons were queued before me but my time wasn't wasted since the staff gave me an English order slip so that I can pick my order while waiting for my number. They even gave me a small board to help me write my order. For those that are really impatient, you can try tasting the various pineapple cake products on the souvenir store beside Din Tai Fung. Just remind yourself to eat only small amounts of the sample pineapple cakes or else you won't have any space in your stomach for the dumplings and “xiaolongbao”.


Customers usually place their bags here.
"How to eat xiaolongbao" manual

After 30 minutes, my number was called and a kind employee accompanied me to my table. I was asked to place my things on a white bag made up of cloth. They then covered it with large brown handkerchief when I started eating. A Taiwanese couple beside my table looked at me as I read the small cardboard explaining the step-by-step procedure how to eat “xiaolongbao”. They might have thought that I was a tourist but they just didn't know that I would be soon celebrating my 1000th day in Taiwan. 



1 part soy sauce and 3 parts vinegar for a tasty sauce
chicken "xiaolongbao"

Before I forgot, “xiaolongbao” is the buns cooked in a bamboo steaming basket and it is eaten by dipping it first in a sauce made up of 1 part soy sauce and 3 parts vinegar. A waitress volunteered to make the sauce for me in a saucer with shredded ginger. My first tray of food arrived and steam came out once the bamboo cover was opened. It was the chicken “xiaolongbao” and a waiter pointed his finger to the small chicken cutout made up of ginger or cheese to indicate that it was the chicken variant. 





I read the instructions again how to eat my food. After dipping the “xiaolongbao” in the sauce with the help of the chopsticks I should place it on the short spoon and punch small holes on it using the chopsticks to release its juice. I then put some shredded ginger from the saucer to add flavor. I can feel the juices of the “xialongbao” sending messages to my taste buds that it was really delicious. I repeated the process of eating the food again and again until I ate all of my five pieces of chicken “xiaolongbao”.

My other orders had finally arrived! 
steamed fish dumplings 

 steamed shrimp and pork dumplings


crab roe and pork xiaolongbao

Sometimes I find it easier to enjoy my dumplings by just dipping it in the sauce with this tiny saucer plate.

My “steamed fish dumplings” arrived immediately and I enjoyed its taste like I was really eating a real fish. I was still eating my five pieces of fish dumplings when my two other orders arrived on my table. The “crab roe and pork xiaolongbao” and the “steamed shrimp and pork dumplings”. My stomach was actually getting full when I was eating the fish dumplings. I initially thought that this would be a light dinner but it wasn't at all.

red bean xialongbao 


For my dessert, I ordered another “xiaolongbao” and it was the red bean variant. Its sweet taste removed the sourness of the vinegar and the tastes of the different dumplings. The complimentary bottomless tea wouldn't be forgotten in this food trip in Din Tai Fung. Its hotness was just right for the customers.














A nice feature of the Taipei 101 branch is that visitors are given a chance to see how the dumplings and buns are made. As soon as the dumplings are ready they are placed on the bamboo basket for steaming. Those ready are stacked up until the bamboo basket creates a tower so high that it needs to be delivered to the hungry customers. 

Din Tai Fung deserves a five out of five “luomujie stars”.

I really enjoyed my dining experience in this restaurant. The courtesy of the staff, the variety of dishes and the authentic taste of the “xiaolongbao” are the reasons that makes people go back and eat here again. It deserves a five out of five “luomujie stars”. I highly recommend to people visiting the capital to have a taste of Taiwan in Din Tai Fung. 

My order:
crab roe and pork xialongbao: 5 pieces for NTD 175
chicken xialongbao: 5 pieces for NTD 100
steamed shrimp and pork dumplings: 5 pieces for NTD 120
steamed fish dumplings: 5 pieces for NTD 110
steamed red bean xialongbao: 5 pieces for NTD 80
coke light: 1 can for NTD 35
TOTAL: NTD 620

Din Tai Fung Taipei 101 Store
B1, No. 45, Shifu Rd., Taipei City (Taipei 101 Mall)
Tel: 02-8101-7799 Fax: 02-8101-7800

Opening hours: Sun to Thurs. 11:00am to 9:30pm
Friday, Sat., and the day before holiday: 11am to 10:00pm

How to get to this place by MRT: Board MRT to Taipei 101 Station and go to Exit 4
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