Sunday, October 28, 2012

Din Tai Fung, Taipei 101, Taiwan

A couple of people asked me upon my return from Taipei/Taiwan: "So did you go to the Taipei 101?"

To which I always replied, "Yes but not to go up. We went down to the basement actually - to Din Tai Fung!"

 We knew we had to check out this 1 Michelin Star restaurant. How good could it really be?

 It was a good thing we made a prior reservation. There was already a line forming not long after it opened for business! We were led by very friendly and cheerful wait staff to our table. The interior is a lot bigger than you'd expect.

 It's simple - here it's all about the Xiao Long Bao. And this is serious business.. they've got a XLB Army going at preparing the little scrumptious juicy parcels. You can watch them from outside the glass kitchen.

 It's really quite amazing - so many hands, yet the quality is surely kept consistent for the restaurant to merit the award of 'very good cuisine in its category'.

 Watching the chefs go, we had no doubts that the XLB would arrive quickly - but nothing really prepared us for how good it actually tastes!

 There was a weekend special lunch promo thingy that included 30 Xiao Long Baos, but we chuckled it off (thinking it was overkill) and got the tray of 10 instead so that we could try other dishes.

 Man. We wished we stuck to the 30!!

 These may look like your regular XLBs.. until you pick it up! You can see the skin is almost paper-thin - it's translucent to the extent that you can see the broth inside. As a flimsy chopstick user I was on an edge here, fearing I'd leak every single dumpling just by fumbling to pick it up, but luckily the top bit is a bit thicker. I think my puncture count was only 1/5 despite the delicate skin :)

 Holy shit. While I won't say I've tried the best XLB Singapore had to offer, I've definitely tried my fair share (crystal jade, din tai fung, paradise dynasty, various dim sum places). This one just blew me away by how subtly better it just was. The skin was thinner, there was more soup and it was much much tastier, the temperature was justtt riighhttt (guaranteed NOT to scald yourself from the soup even when they just arrive). You don't even need to poke it to let the steam out, just pop it in and let it explode. In your mouth. XLBplosion.

 We also ordered guo tie / pot stickers and I was surprised to see it in this form, with the whole horizontal piece on like that. I guess this shows how these literally stuck on the pot! These were really good - the filling was moist (not oily), skin was thin and crispy (unlike many other doughy renditions I've had).

 The guo tie was great as well - crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside (a hint of soup inside??? maybe it just that juicy), just lovely.

 Got a small bowl of hot and sour soup (Szechuan style) to share. Not bad! Not starchy and loaded with ingredients. Could have been spicier and more sour for me, but I did enjoy this.

 Lastly we tried the noodles with spicy sauce - la mien tossed in chilli oil.. mmm. Simple but quite potent and very flavourful! A good contrast to the milder dumplings.

 A memorable trip to arguably the best food I had in my trip (the simple XLB!), this place was jammmmm packed by the time we left! And extremely regretted the decision against the 30 XLB discount ... after we wolfed down the 10 perfect XLB we were game for 30 or even 50 more ... had we not ordered the other foods! Do yourself a favour, and do not miss Din Tai Fung on your next trip!

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