Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung is the recipient of many accolades.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding Din Tai Fung.

In 1993, The New York Times named its Taipei branch one of the top 10 restaurants in the world. CNN named Din Tai Fung one of the best chains for travelers in 2013. A few branches have been awarded Michelin stars.

I had the opportunity to eat at the Shanghai and Hong Kong branches. I was told that the original branch in Taiwan was the real deal, that every other branch was a step down. Despite this caveat, I was satisfied with both of my experiences.

The decor was warm, crisp, and professional. LED lights casted soft shadows over lacquered seats. Staff communicated with ear buds and constantly picked up empty plates as I finished them. They showed me to a table within 5 minutes and served the meal just 13 minutes after I ordered.

For my Shanghai meal, I ordered the steamed pork and shrimp dumpling, steamed chicken xiaolongbao, and fried rice served with deep fried pork chop.

The pork and shrimp dumplings were warm but not too hot. I handled them gently because the case was delicate. Each piece was filled with a bit of shrimp encased in crumbled pork. The filling’s ginger seasoning was enjoyably strong.

Chicken xiaolongbao was served in a cloth-lined bamboo basket.

Xiaolongbao is a popular Shanghainese dish that resembles a dumpling with hot broth inside. The chicken xiaolongbao bursted with tangy broth and coarse bits of chicken. My dish was a little colder by the time I got to it, but it was likely my fault for not moving quickly enough.

The pork chop and rice was served in an unassuming manner.

The pork chop's line between batter and meat is blurred.

I shoved heaps of rice into my mouth from the pork chop dish. The caked rice was perfectly warm and buttery. The eggs were subtle, chopped as small as the grains of rice. The pork was crispy on the outside. It certainly tasted deep fried, but the batter was so light it didn’t carry the guilt of eating deep-fried.

The Shanghai location can be hard to find. Go to the third floor of the Super Brand Mall and look for directories.

Din Tai Fung is a solid chain with reasonably-priced, quality food. You can’t leave Shanghai without having xiaolongbao. Din Tai Fung wouldn’t be a bad place to try it.

Din Tai Fung. Shanghai, China

Food ⋅ June 2015