Taipei 101’s Din Tai Fung
Growing up in Chicago with a lot of Asian friends, I often heard about a magical meal they would get every Saturday morning in China Town: Dimsum.
All I wanted was to go with them and get dimsum, but it was a family meal, and my Jewish family was too busy eating bagels and smoked salmon on Saturday mornings.
That’s why it wasn’t until my friends and I were 18 with cars and jobs that I finally had my first dimsum. It was one of my best friends’ birthday. She was Cantonese, and took us to her favorite Cantonese dimsum restaurant in China Town. It was absolutely magical. The menu was infinite, and with our large party I got to try everything. Pork dumplings, shrimp dumplings, taro dumplings, chicken feet, duck, sweet potato, red bean, and on and on, on an enormous lazy Susan with unlimited tea. I was in heaven.
Since then dimsum has been an easy favorite food of mine, but as close as South Korea is to China, it’s mind-bogglingly hard to find good dimsum in Seoul. Seoul even has several Din Tai Fung branches, but when I visited the branch in Myeongdong the soup dumplings were cold, the soup had all leaked out, and they tasted exactly like the frozen dumplings they have in 711’s here. I was heartbroken.
There were three things I needed to do when I visited Taipei.
- Visit the Chang Kai Shek Memorial.
- Visit the night markets and eat everything.
- Visit Taipai 101’s Din Tai Fung and eat everything.
What can I say. Foodie for life.
The wait for Din Tai Fung was about an hour. My friends were uncertain but I wasn’t taking no for an answer. We roamed beautiful Taipei 101 shopping for an hour, and the time flew by. Thank goodness we waited.
The first thing you see when you enter Din Tai Fung in Taipei 101 is a huge glass room filled with what appear to be surgeons or artists. These are the master chefs. They work so quickly you can barely see their hands, making each beautiful dimsum fresh by hand.
Din Tai Fung’s specialty dish is the “xiao long bao,” or soup dumplings. These aren’t dumplings in soup, but rather soup in dumplings, with an entire technique to eating them. But after watching many Taiwan tourism videos on Youtube, I knew that Din Tai Fung was much more than just their xiao long bao, that all their food would be amazing.
We spied on all the tables around us, and settled on classic pork xiao long bao, shrimp eggplant xiao long bao, truffle mushroom xiao long bao, pork chop fried rice, and a beef noodle stew.
The wait was actually quite fast once we placed our orders. And there they were, the most beautiful dumplings I had ever seen.
The classic pork xiao long bao:
Technique to eating xiao long bao (soup dumplings):
- Soak the ginger slices in the sauce on the side.
- Pick up a dumpling and place it on your spoon.
- Poke the dumpling with your chopsticks so that the soup broth flows into the spoon.
- Drink the soup broth.
- Place some soaked ginger on top of your dumpling.
- Eat the glorious dumpling.
The shrimp eggplant xiao long bao:
Pork chop fried rice:
Beef noodle soup:
Everything tasted wonderful. It was by far the best meal I had in Taiwan, and one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
My favorite dish is a hard tie between the truffle and shrimp eggplant xiao long bao. The truffle xiao long bao had an overwhelming hot truffle flavor in the broth, which complemented the pork dumpling amazingly. But the shrimp eggplant xiao long bao was completely different, very crisp and refreshing.
That being said I think if I really had to recommend just one item though, it would be the original pork xiao long bao, for authenticity’s sake.
I crave dimsum all the time in Seoul, and now that I’ve been spoiled by Taipei’s dimsum I’ve been completely ruined from the dimsum places I know in Seoul! I wish I could go back to Taipei more easily. If anyone knows a great dimsum place in Seoul, PLEEEASE TELL ME in the comments! I’ll be your best friend.
Until the next adventure,
For more information on Taipei 101’s Din Tai Fung you can visit their website at: http://www.dintaifung.com.tw/en/