I remember visiting Taipei almost ten years ago, and when we got back, everyone was asking if we had been to their Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), for the standards there was supposedly much higher than what we get in Singapore. Well, the answer back then was no, we hadn’t been there, hadn’t known that we were supposed to, hadn’t known that their xiao long bao supposedly tasted much better than our version in Singapore. Anyway, now that we are back in Taipei, we made sure to include Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) into our itinerary.
There are lots of Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) outlets in Taipei – there’s one at the iconic Taipei 101 as well, but the one we were interested in was at Yong Kang Street (永康街) because this is the first Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) outlet. I had an ulterior motive as well – I had wanted to visit Taipei’s famous beauty shop ‘Little Three’ (小三美日) and Smoothie House (永康街思慕昔), both of which are also located at Yong Kang Street (永康街).
On Taipei’s metro (捷運) line, the nearest stop to go to Din Tai Fung at Yong Kang Street was the Dongmen Station (東門捷運站). From the station, take exit 5 to go to Yong Kang Street. Once we come out from the station via the escalator, Din Tai Fung is somewhere right in front – you can’t miss it because of the crowds waiting around the shop.
Din Tai Fung at Yong Kang street starts operation at 9am on weekends. So after dropping off our luggage at the CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch III, we made a beeline for the restaurant, reaching there about 15 minutes before opening time. By then, there was already a crowd and some sort of a queue forming outside the restaurant (talk about being kiasu, looks there we are not the most kiasu people in the world).
Maybe it happens every single day, but the day that we were there, the restaurant opens 10 mins earlier (i.e. at 8:50am), much to our surprise (so it does pay to be slightly early)!) We were among the first few customers to be led and seated at the second level (i’ve heard there are more than 2 levels there).
Looks like the reputation of Din Tai Fung has spread far and wide. Among my fellow early dinners are tourists, families and large groups from Japan, Korea, and mainland China.
Dim Sum breakfast for 2? Had a hard time deciding what to order. I wanted to try so many dishes, but how could we ever hope to finish all of it when there was only 2 of us.
The menu of Din Tai Fung.
At Din Tai Fung, the one thing you absolutely cannot miss is their Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). Note that the xiao long bao comes in 2 sizes – basket of 5 or basket of 10. The unit price is the same, i.e. the basket of 10 cost exactly double that of the basket of 5, no discounts for ordering more – so if you just want to give it a try, it makes more sense to order the smaller quantity first leaving yourself the option to purchase another if you really want to.
In happy anticipation of our Xiao Long Bao.
Our order of Xiao Long Bao comes with an instruction manual (in English translation as well) on how to tackle that piping hot bundle of soup.
This appetizer (NT70 = SGD$3) was highly recommended on the internet – it is Din Tai Fung’s House Specials. We didn’t actually order it off the menu – the waiter presented it to us to choose from an array of other appetizers.
Yummy! This dish is really quite refreshing.
Our order of Xiao Long Bao (NT100 = SGD$4.30) came soon after, steaming and piping hot.
No matter what else you are eating, you got to abandon it and tackle the xiao long bao first, because it taste good only when hot.
Ok, here’s the verdict – although we think that the xiao long bao here is really very good, its standards are not that too far off from other options we have in Singapore. If you go to a really good dim sum restaurant (I shan’t name any here), chances are, you’ll get almost the same thing. So we abandoned our initial grand plans to order another basket of xiao long baos, given that our tummies were nearly full with the following other dishes…
On the taxi ride to Changi Airport, the taxi driver upon hearing that we were travelling to Taipei said that the chicken soup at Din Tai Fung must (must, she emphasised) be tried. According to her, the chicken used in Taiwan is different from the species we have in Singapore. So here I am at Din Tai Fung, and I couldn’t help but want to verify her claim.
House steamed chicken soup (NT200 = SGD$8.70). I guess it must be a matter of preference – this soup taste is very exquisitely made, but in my opinion, it tastes very bland. Nothing very special about the chicken either. It is the most expensive among the dishes we ordered and not worth the price at all.
Another dish of ours – wanton soup noodle soup (NT160 = SGD$7.00) as a staple for us.
We hit jackpot with this order of Mini Taro Buns (NT50 = SGD$2.20). I usually hated buns and baos, especially those filled with yam, but ordered this for Tommy’s sake because he loves bao. Ends up I am the one being impressed with this basket of mini taro buns – texture of the skin was just right, the taro filling was not too sweet, the smell was not too overwhelming. Overall, the combination was just nice. Perfect as a dessert to end off the meal.
Other options on the menu, many of which we did not want to try because it was not that suitable for a morning meal.
They sell gift sets in their menus too – teas and sauces and pineapple cakes.
Ready for the bill? Its NT638 (SGD$27.70) inclusive of 10% service charge. Quite surprised that it came up to only this small sum, an identical meal in Singapore would have easily cost us double the price. So overall, we were really satisfied with the meal and service level.
We didn’t see these guys in operation when we went in, but after we are done with the bill, these guys are out in full force moulding their exquisite little xiao long baos.
Din Tai Fung souvenirs. They looked really adorable, but we didn’t buy any.
We felt very fortunate when we saw that the crowd outside had grown much larger than when we came in. Wonder how long these people needed to wait for their seat.
Couldn’t resist snapping this cute Din Tai Fung mascot standing guard outside the restaurant. He’s little xiao long bao.
Din Tai Fung (Xinyi Store)
No. 194, Sec 2,
(MRT Dongmen Station Exit 5)
Mon – Fri: 10am – 9pm
Weekends & Public Holidays: 9am – 9pm