Sunday, September 16, 2007

Stop the Press: Din Tai Fun - the best dumplings in Shanghai

Ok.. ok... so I still have a lot of ground to cover in my Shanghai chronicles but I just have to stop and rave about this gem of a restaurant which does live up to the hype.
Arguably Asia's most famous dumpling restaurant with branches in Taipai, LA, Japan, Shanghai, HK, Singapore, Beijing, Seoul and Jakarta, Din Tai Fun was rated by the NY Times as one of the Top Ten Restaurants in the world in 1993 and one of the best restaurants in Shanghai in 2005. It has also been listed as one of the top kid-friendly restaurants in Shanghai. Needless to say, it was near the top of my Must-Try-in-Shanghai list.
There are 3 branches in Shanghai, all of which are in prime locations. We went to the Xiantiandi Outlet. The staff was super accomodating and efficient, offering Andre a high chair AND the use of a Mickey Mouse cutlery set -- the first restaurant to have ever done so for us. The restaurant was brightly lit, the walls covered with murals of Chinese movie stars (some of whom have autographed the walls), the menu very easy to read (lots of gorgeous pictures), and of course, the food scrumptious. The menu is actually very simple -- lots of dumplings, a few main dishes and more dessert dumplings. Think street food in a high class setting.
We tried the following:
  • Drunken chicken in Shaoxing rice wine
  • Special steamed pork dumplings. (mini pork buns with soup)
  • Steamed pork & Shanghai crab meat dumplings
  • Steamed pork and shrimp dumplings
  • Steamed vegetable dumplings
  • Steamed Spinach with garlic
  • Fried Porkchop.

The combi pork/seafood were nothing quite out of the ordinary. The vegetable dumplings and steamed spinach were very fresh and steamed just right. The drunken chicken was also quite good.

The special steamed pork dumplings were indeed special - Nice and juicy. The size was just perfect for eating in a single bite. The skin was practically translucent but thick enough to stay intact when picked up with chopsticks. The soup in the dumpling was also just right -- pure and unadulerated.

However, the winner for the night in a unanimous decision (including Andre) was the porkchop. I regret now that I didn't get the exact name. It was tender (suprising for porkchop) and bursting with flavor. Andre, who usually eats like a bird, demanded that his bowl be refilled 3 times. It would have been perfect with rice.

Our total bill, with drinks, came to around RMB284. A bit on the high side for a dumpling restaurant... but IMHO, well worth it. We left the restaurant well satiated.

Hongquio Outlet:
Unit 109, Peace Square No. 18 Shuicheng Rd. Shanghai
Tel: 86-21-62084188
Xiantiandi Outlet:
Unit 11A, 2F House 6, South Block Xintiandi, Lane 123, Xinye Rd, Shanghai
Tel: 86-21-63858378, 53825800
Pudong Outlet:
Unit 24, 3/F, Super Brand Mall, No. 168 Lujiazuixi Rd, Shanghai
Tel: 86-21-50478882, 50478883

No comments: