August 24, 2014

Din Tai Fung

I had my first xiao long bao (aka - XLB, soup dumpling) at Din Tai Fung, Arcadia.  While I found my first encounter with XLB to be quite good, I didn't understand why people would wait hours and hours for the lop-sided dumpling that often had more meat filling than soup.  Still, during the early 2000's, whenever my friends and I craved XLB, we trekked to the SGV for XLB at DTF.

Since my early-XLB days, I've sampled the delicate dumplings aplenty from hole-in-the-wall places in NYC, SF, and LA (namely Mama Lu's and ROC Kitchen).  Over time, I began to understand the elements to a perfect dumpling: (1) skin just thick enough to prevent soup spillage, but also have enough pull for slight resilience; (2) hot savory pork broth that doesn't taste MSG-fied; and (3) filling that isn't too gelatinous or mushy, but has just the right amount of fat to retain good flavor.  While I can't say I've found the #1 XLB shop in LA, I have to hand it to Din Tai Fung for expanding its American empire, and readily making available tasty dumplings for diners unfamiliar with Shanghainese cuisine.

Din Tai Fung just opened its doors to the OC community (via South Coast Plaza), but here's a glimpse of Din Tai Fung, Glendale.

Pork & Vegetable Wontons with Spicy Sauce -- (6 for) $8

Shrimp & Pork Wonton with Spicy Sauce -- (6 for) $9

Shrimp & Pork Soup Dumplings -- (10 for) $9.50

Truffle Soup Dumplings -- (5 for) $22.50

Decent Filling-Soup ratio... don't burn you tongue!

I spy...


Strictly out of curiosity, I tried the truffle dumplings.  Priced at a whopping $4.50/ soup dumpling, I am sure I will never order it again.  The truffle flavor is clearly present, but there is nothing to truly write home about this dish.  It's a novelty item that entertains the occasional food blogger or the curious eater.  Stick with the standard shrimp/ pork XLB.

Other dishes to consider are pork/ shrimp shao mai (they look like money bags), minced pork noodles, and Shanghai rice cakes.

There's no doubt that Din Tai Fung is a good place to get introduced to xiao long bao.  There's also no doubt that there will be crowds of people at your nearest Din Tai Fung.  All things considered, it's a place worth putting on and checking of your list.  Bon appetit!

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Taiwanese
location: Glendale (Arcadia and most recently, Costa Mesa)
hours: M-F: 11am-10pm; Sat: 10am-10pm; Sun: 10am-9pm
websites: { DTF | yelp | facebook | twitter }
parking: Americana parking (first 90 min free) or Valet
attire: Casual
price: ~$10-20
notes: Takes credit cards, but does not take reservations.  Full bar available.  Can order half portions of dumplings.

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