If you don’t know what Din Tai Fung is (we like to call it DTF), allow me to be your guide. Din Tai Fung is the pride and joy of Taiwan. A humble noodle and dumplings restaurant in Dongmen that has in recent years grown to be an international powerhouse in the food world, with devoted fans in Japan, Australia, California and more. Din Tai Fung is a classy dining experience, an upscale interpretation of food that traditionally isn’t really fancy (a far cry from banquet foods in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine).
DTF serves up Huaiyang dishes, a classic Chinese culinary tradition that has become adopted and embedded into Taiwanese cuisine over the past couple generations. You come here for the soup dumplings (but if you know what you’re doing, you’re staying for the steamed vegetable and pork dumplings, the starter dish and a pork chop fried rice and the chili oil). But really, the success of DTF comes from its commitment to a high standard of quality. Every soup dumpling has 18 folds. You can watch the whole process unfold (lol) through the window into the kitchen as an efficient assembly line measures out the dough, fillings and expertly and nimbly folds the delicate dough (truly, it’s mesmerizing).
These days, it caters more to tourists, visitors and international markets, but maintains a larger than life presence in Taiwan with long lines, open windows into the kitchen and human-sized XLB figures beckoning in diners. It’s a tourist destination in its own right, and probably one of the most successful exports in the food industry. It’s an easy, inoffensive menu. It’s pretty to look at, easy to explain. Anyone who isn’t gluten-intolerant can get behind a dumpling. And once you’ve had these dumplings, you’ll realize most others outside of Asia are just on a different tier. Sure, you’re paying for the doting service and name (think: designer dumplings), but compared to Western food or Japanese food, it’s a steal (which is messed up in itself, but we’ll save that rant for another day).
xlbs are best enjoyed with young ginger and black vinegar
the original location (post- glow up) by Yong Kang Street in Taipei
the famous appetizer: iykyk
And before you go, here is my definitive ranking of DTF locations in Taipei.
Also, while I’m at it, the only LA location that holds up is the one in the Arcadia mall. Glendale is mediocre at best and Century City, well, unless you’re looking to run into colleagues of past and present, would not recommend going there either. Orange County and Bay Area locations are crowded but not overly white-washed and therefore acceptable.
And finally, my go-to order for ~4 people.
|Hours||varies by location but generally open around 10:30-11:30am and close around 8-10pm|
|Price||$ – In Taiwan, the price point is a notch or two higher than many are willing to pay (considering the options), but compared to the prices for the same dishes in the U.S., it’s significantly cheaper. You can expect to pay ~200-300 NT ($7-10) per person in Taiwan while in the U.S., it’d be closer to $15-20 per person for the same order.|
|Aesthetic||clean, minimal, warm – some fancier than others (ahem, Century City, I’m look at you)|
Go here for: world famous soup dumplings (and just a reliably delicious meal that feels comfortable with great service that won’t break the bank)
Order this: see above for my typical order
Amount of time to spend: 1-2 hours, depending on the wait
When to come: right when they open is the best bet, otherwise if there is some kind of remote waitlist, get in line about 45 min before you get there.
Getting here (Taipei): most are located really close to an MRT station, many of which you don’t even have to go outside from the subway, ie: for Sogo Fuxing branch, take exit 2 of Zhongxiao Fuxing (blue, brown) to be connected into their food court; all of the Xinyi district locations can be accessed through sky bridges that connect all of the department store buildings.
Parking (LA locations): they are all in large malls (RIP original Arcadia strip mall location) which means there is also ample parking in lots and structures. Note that the Century City Mall is trash and doesn’t have validated parking.
Other things to note:
Last visited: August 2020
Last updated: October 2020