Din Tai Fung – Authentic Soup Dumplings

This place is renowned for its Xiao long bao, Shanghai-style soup dumplings. Din Tai Fung made Jonathan Gold’s list of 100 essential restaurants and the fact that its in Arcadia has done nothing to deter its fan base. There is another identical restaurant around the corner, both are enormous, and yet they’re still more famous for the queues they boast than their food.

I’d never had one of these dumplings before. They’re tightly sealed with pork and a splash of soup inside which bursts when popped into your mouth. There are instructions as to how to eat them on the chopstick wrappers. You are served fresh ginger, vinegar, soy and chili sauce which you are instructed to mix together in the soy saucer provided. You pick each dumpling up with chopsticks, soak it in the dipping sauce, place it in your soup spoon and pop it into your mouth. You can also poke a hole in the dumpling first so that the soup oozes out onto the spoon instead of scolding your mouth.

They’re served 10 at a time in aluminium steamers – a challenge when you order just as many portions as there are people! I loved the texture but this place is not a vegetarian friendly restaurant. As a selective vegetarian I had to at least try the soup dumplings but the pork is really rich and fatty and so I decided to sacrifice the soup filling and switch to regular shrimp dumplings. And then they too arrived with pork! The steamed pork buns were the same, really delicious, with amazing texture, but they didn’t have that sweet barbecue sauce center that’s probably really inauthentic but also my favorite part. We got garlic green beans too which were really tasty and cooked just right.

All in all highly recommended if you love authentic international cuisine. And pork!

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