Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best Shanghai Dumplings - Din Tai Fung

Star of the show
I have to say, I am a HUGE fan of Din Tai Fung. With 52 branches all over the world and first class Japanese-style production techniques which maintains the high standards of every dumpling served, you can count on having a wonderful meal at every seating.
My favorite is their signature dish 'Steamed pork dumplings' ($48 for six). What most dim sum restaurants in this city fail to appreciate is that the paper wrapper that lines that bamboo basket is simply inadequate to deal with this 'soup dumpling'. How do paper liners spoil this experience? The dumpling's wrapper sticks to paper, therefore when you try to pick up the dumpling with your chopsticks, your dumpling rips and all the delicate juices are spilled before it is even close to its destination. What Din Tai Fung and restaurants in Shanghai has done is to serve the dumplings on CLOTH liners, thereby eliminating this unfortunate outcome. The focal point of this dish is that you dip the dumpling into the soy sauce/vinegar/ginger sauce and then put the whole thing in your mouth. Then as you bite into it, the dumpling explodes, releasing the 'soup/juices' to fill your palate with a combination of all the flavors. Ahhh, heaven. It is sooo good, it's literally impossible to stop at one.

Our other favorite dumpling dish is the 'Spicy Shrimp and pork wanton' ($45), served in a mild chili oil, it gives the shrimp and pork wantons a bit more heat but not so much that it burns your tongue. It's firmer than the steamed dumplings and is a great accompaniment to the meal.
Just a hint of chili

To cool things down, the 'Tossed sliced cucumber with chili and garlic' ($28) is fresh, crunchy and is the right size for a bite. In fact, all the vegetables are fresh and crispy, the 'Bok choy' ($40) and 'Sauteed Chinese white cabbage' ($40) were both adequate staples and bring balance to the meat-heavy meal.
Mix the noodles well to serve

Here are some more highly recommended dishes:
Egg fried rice with shrimp and shredded pork ($50) - very good flavor, rice not greasy, shrimps are a very good size
Noodle with minced pork and bean sauce ($35) - Mix it well then serve, the noodles tastes homemade - al dente
Boiled glutinous rice dumpling stuffed with pork ($36) - one of the weaker dishes, it's just that everything else is so delicious that this one pales in comparison, it is a dumpling that is similar to a Mexican tamale, it needs to be dipped in soy sauce for more flavor
Almond pudding always ends the meal on a high note

Our party tried out three delicious desserts:
The best dessert voted by my party is the 'Almond pudding with fresh fruit' ($28), served cold it's a gelatin and rice flour based dessert, very light and jelly-like. It is extremely refreshing after all the dumplings we ate. It comes in a medium size ramekins, it could be shared by two. The fruit are two slices of strawberry.
Chilled sago soup with coconut milk and fresh fruit ($28)- the coconut milk flavor is a hit and so are the melon balls but it's a little bland after the fantastic main course.
Boiled glutinous rice dumpling stuffed with red bean paste ($28) - only for those who like sweet red beans. It's standard fare, nothing to write home about.
Chinese people love chilled sweet sago soup

The overall impression is that this is a great place to go. There are two locations in Hong Kong. For a party of five who ate way too much (did we really order five baskets of Shanghai dumplings?), the bill came to $200 per person. Great food, good deal. Prepare for long waits in line!

Din Tai Fung
68 Yee Wo Street (ground floor of Regal Hotel)
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong


Shop 130, 3rd Floor, Silvercord Shopping Centre
30 Canton Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

1 comment:

  1. Definitely the best soup dumplings ever! Your food description is right on the mark! I will have to go back because I'm hungry just looking at the pictures and reading your post.