Din Tai Fung is a Taiwanese restaurant chain, but their xiao long bao is legendary. My godfather swears by it and he thinks that it’s one of the best places to have xiao long bao in the world. So naturally I just have to pay a visit to one of the branches as soon as I got off the plane in Shanghai – and it’s the branch in the Super Brand Mall in Pudong that I visited.
The restaurant was more or less packed even at 5pm! After settling down and ordered a nice pot of tieguanyin tea, it’s the difficult task of choosing the dishes from a menu which consists of mostly steamed buns, dumplings, noodles and other snacks. The list of xiao long bao was quite long and I just wished that I had a stomach large enough to try them all. But that’s not the case and so in the end we opted for:
Goose Liver and Chicken Xiao Long Bao, and Crab Meat and Pork Xiao Long Bao – Both were delicious and better than Minjiang restaurant in London (which should be the case anyway, even though Minjiang does do a mean xiao long bao) as there was less gelatine texture in the soup base inside the dumplings.
We also ordered two of the classic Shanghainese starters: Drunken Chicken which had a nice balance of meat and alcohol flavours; and Smoked Fish which was swimming in a rather sweet sauce.
The beef brisket with noodles soup was good standard fare – nothing spectacular, just comfort food for me. The Crab meat and roe with Pea Shoots was a nice dish, though it was verging on the very expensive side.
Fortunately none of the dishes were too large, and so we manage to find some more space in the stomach for the Soft gourd and Shrimp Xiao Long Bao. They had less intense flavour than the other xiao long bao we had earlier, but they were more refreshing and certainly not a filling that I had come across before. It was a nice way to finish the meal.
Even though by this point we were quite full, I just couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on the dessert, especially because it was Red Bean Paste and Chestnut Xiao Long Bao – two of my favourite ingredients in a xiao long bao. They were very different in the sense that there was no soup base in the dumplings to deal with. They were not too sweet and I really enjoyed them, though probably more for the novelty value.
On the whole, it was a very enjoyable dinner. The very informal setting makes it a perfect place to go out with friends and family for a relaxed meal. Is Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao the best in the world? That’s a matter of opinion – personally after this visit I have managed to sample some other xiao long bao that are better.
Address: Unit 24, 3F, Super Brand Mall, No. 168, West Lujiazui Road, Shanghai, China
Telephone: +86 021 50478882
Opening Hours: Daily: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Total: 16/20 [Based on visit in January 2012 ]