Donna Liu & Howie Chen
Xiao Long Bao is a traditional Chinese food that Din Tai Fung restaurant has made famous around the world. When they come to Taiwan, many foreign visitors will visit a one of the many Din Tai Fung restaurants here. We chose the branch in the basement of Taichung’s Top City department store. There is convenient parking at the department store, and we can also go shopping after our meal.
Before stepping into the restaurant, we looked into the kitchen window and saw the cooks kneading dough. The open kitchen is one very special thing about Din Tai Fung. The kitchen staff is required to wear gloves, and the environment is clean and neat. In the brightly lit dining room, there are plenty of seats, and the aisles between tables are spacious. The restaurant gives you the feeling of high quality even though it is a little noisy.
There are a variety of dishes on the menu: xiao long bao, steamed dumplings, fried rice, bun, noodles, and soup – and each item comes in at least five flavors. Xiao Long Bao comes in pork, mini-pork, truffles and pork, crab roe and pork, chicken, and green squash and shrimp flavors. Fried rice comes in four flavors, shrimp, pork, pork chop, and shrimp with pork. If you are especially hungry, you can order an appetizer before your main dish. Moreover, Din Tai Fung serves dessert, including red bean buns.
We visited the restaurant on Sunday. We arrived at 11:30 am, which was a little early for lunch. What surprised us was that there were already people lining up outside. We quickly joined them. While we were waiting for our seats, a waiter handed us the menu. After 30 minutes, it was our turn to relish this Taiwan specialty. We ordered the pork xiao long bao, steamed shrimp and pork dumplings, pork chop fried rice with eggs, hot-and-sour soup, and red bean buns.
When our dishes arrived, what first came to our minds was, ‘’what delicious food!’’ The xiao long bao, famous for their eighteen-fold wrappers, were just as expected. The fragrance came out immediately after we bit into them. The wrappers were springy, and the filling was juicy. We could definitely see the chefs’ diligence. The steamed shrimp and pork dumplings impressed us for the elasticity of their wrappers and the full flavor of the prawns. Next was the pork chop fried rice with eggs. AT Din Tai Fung, they offer two choices of rice, white rice or brown rice. We ordered the brown rice. The rice was chewy, and the pork was tender but not too greasy. Later, we had hot-and-sour soup, which contained lots of wonderful ingredients, including tofu, black wood-ear, eggs, green onions, dried been curd, and strong vinegar. However, we felt a little disappointed. We thought that traditional hot-and-sour soup should contain carrots and pork blood. After finishing our main dishes, we had some red bean buns. They were tiny, with red bean paste inside and fluffy dough outside. They were not overly sweet.
What impressed us most about our experience at Din Tai Fung was the service. The waiters were very professional; once they found our tea cups close to half-empty, they filled them with tea immediately. Waiters circulated around the dining area all the time, and they did whatever they could to make customers happy. What was special to us was that even though the servers walked around all the time, they didn’t make us feel tense. Although Din Tai Fung is more expensive than other restaurants, the great quality of their service makes it worth the price. For students, it might be a bit expensive, but if you just come occasionally, it will be a really special experience.
Din Tai Fung
Address: Top City Department Store B2
251 Taiwan Boulevard, Section 3, Xitun District, Taichung
Hours: Monday - Friday 11:00~21:30; Weekends & Holidays 10:30~21:30