Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
Add*: 3F Super Brand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Lu / 陸家嘴路168號正大廣場3樓
Tel: 5047 8882
Price: 100~150 RMB/person
Visited: Oct 2010
For many people, Din Tai Fung needs no introduction. This Taiwanese chain, with its remarkable consistency in quality and well-trained service, has been rated one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in the world by NY Times and now operates in 9 different countries. Their soup dumplings (xiao long bao) are simply the best and easily make Shanghai’s famous local 南翔小籠 (Nan Xiang dumplings) look ridiculous in comparison. This place is always packed so be sure to make reservations.
*Multiple locations available in Shanghai, check website for details.
Some of my favorite starters include 辣牛筋 spicy ox-tendon (35 RMB), 辣味小黃瓜 sliced cucumber with chili and garlic (23 RMB), 什錦豆干絲 shredded bean curd with seaweed and bean sprouts (19 RMB), and 香干馬蘭頭 chopped wild vegetable and bean curd (22 RMB).
Din Tai Fung soup dumplings are made with great care – they have exactly 18 folds on the skin, which is translucently thin but never breaks at the squeeze of the chopsticks. After dipping the dumpling in vinegar, put the whole thing in your mouth, give it some pressure with your palate, feel the delicate skin burst and let the soup fill your mouth. The soup doesn’t burn, and it makes the meat and skin taste exponentially better.
My favorites are 蟹粉小籠 (steamed pork and hairy crab roe dumpling, 86 RMB/10 pcs) and 特色小籠 (steamed pork dumpling, 58 RMB/10 pcs), and if you order both, eat the steamed pork dumpling first because these are lighter in terms of flavor. There are some other variations on the menu, such as 黑松露小籠 (steamed pork and truffle dumpling) and 魚翅小籠 (steamed pork and shark fin dumpling), which I’ve never tried.
菜肉蒸餃 Steamed pork and vegetable dumplings (58 RMB/10 pcs).
紅油菜肉炒手 Pork and vegetable wonton with spicy sauce (40 RMB/6 pcs).
Other than the best dumplings, Din Tai Fung also serves the best egg fried rice. There are several variations (scallion, shrimps, pork chops) and all are divine. Each grain of rice is separate and evenly coated with perfect seasoning. Pictured below is the 蔥花蛋炒飯 fried rice with egg and scallion (32 RMB).
After polishing off the fried rice, I like to end my Din Tai Fung meals with 荔芋小籠 steamed taro paste dumplings (38 RMB/10 pcs).
The Din Tai Feng kitchen, photographed in Taipei. You can see the the division of labor among the kitchen staff to consistently and efficiently churn out steamers after steamers of perfect dumplings. Highly recommended.