It has been several months since the Taiwan-based noodle and dumpling chain, Din Tai Fung, opened its doors to an eager Bangkok crowd. And despite the fact that it is no longer all that "new", the crowd has not yet taken a break in forming long lines outside the restaurant's doors.
I kept reading about Din Tai Fung, largely because it only takes the suggestion of great dumplings to get my attention. Even when F and I visited Beijing, land of dumplings, in April, many reviews online urged us to go to the Din Tai Fung there for dependably tasty dumplings. Although I was tempted, we had already come across the future site of Din Tai Fung in a Bangkok mall, and felt it best to hold off and try it out on our own familiar turf.
It was fortunate we waited, because even in Bangkok where, by now, we sort of understand how things work (sort of), it was still confusing to get in the door. Din Tai Fung is so notorious for its long lines that here in Bangkok we were given a checklist and a golf pencil with which to select our dishes before we were even seated. This did streamline the ordering process, although we were still hungry after round one and had to track down another checklist halfway through the meal.
The menu features a variety of Chinese dishes of the sort that I adore - salads, noodles, and, of course, dumplings. Din Tai Fung is most well-known for their steamed pork soup dumplings - xiaolongbao. They claim that each of these dumplings has a minimum of 18 tiny folds making up the seal on the top. It's hard to fathom that anyone's fingers can actually make that happen, but watching the precision in the open kitchen for a few minutes makes me see how it might be possible.
The xiaolongbao are served with a cartoon drawing instruction sheet designed to work in any country, understandable by speakers of any language.
Eating them goes like this.
Dunk the dumpling in sauce.
Swirl the dumpling in an empty bowl, poking a hole in it to release the hot liquid inside.
Dip the dumpling back in sauce and pop it in your mouth. Drink the soupy liquid straight out of the bowl. Every step is tasty.
In addition to the signature dumplings we also had "oriental salad in special vinegar dressing". This reminded me of a number of salads we had in Beijing - lots of vinegar and nice crunch.
The steamed pork buns were huge and full of flavorful, salty pork that was the perfect complement to the doughy, sweet dumpling.
Steamed buns like these are my favorite dumpling sort, probably because they remind me of those char siu that I can never seem to get enough of.
Although they had a serious kick to them, my surprisingly favorite thing on the menu was the "oriental wontons with black vinegar and chili oil". The wontons had that tender, fall-apart-in-the-chopsticks thing going that only very fresh wontons have.
The picture below = not so pretty. The actual dish = heaven.
Find Din Tai Fung in Bangkok on the 7th floor of CentralWorld (BTS: Chit Lom or Siam)