Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐

While at the 101 mall I saw a couple things that I was very excited for. One was that they had a Sugar & Spice, so I got some nougat for my coworkers. The other was Din Tai Fung. One of my coworkers, who I ride the bus with in the morning mentioned it as a place I had to go to and eat at while in Taiwan. I didn’t know if I’d find it and I was so tired that I didn’t really want to go out of my way for it. I’d already gone out of my way about three times that day for things that hadn’t panned out. But then I saw it on the list of restaurants in the mall near the food court.

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There were two options: dine-in or take out. I went up to the dine-in line and they asked me where I was from. When I told them I was from the states they went “ah, English then” and gave me an English menu. I thought it was cool that they didn’t assume and that they had menus in so many different languages. I also watched the wait time. When I first got there it was 40 minutes, then it dropped to 35 and then to 30. They also had a TV screen with numbers for large groups, small groups and for couples/ solo people. So I just had to keep an eye on it for my number. It meant a long time of standing and waiting, but I had a menu to look over in the mean time. And a paper to mark with what I wanted.

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I had just eaten a bagel at Dreamers so I wasn’t sure how much food I could manage. But I didn’t want to just get one thing. Especially not after a half hour wait. So I decided to get four different types of dumplings. I went with Pork Xiaolongbao (5 instead of 10), vegetable and ground pork wontons with house soy sauce, a taro bun, a chocolate bun, and a sprite.

At my seat they brought me a little basket to put all of my stuff in and then cover it. I’m not sure if it was to deter people from stealing, to protect it from spills or why, but that’s the first time that’s happened. It kinda reminded me of a baby bassinet.

The first thing I got was a guide to my xiaolongbao and some soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar. The staff asked me if I wanted them to make the sauce for me, and I said sure.  Then later after giving me this card, they asked if I wanted them to show me how to eat it…and a bit embarrassed I said no, because I stubbornly wanted to try and follow directions.

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I think I did okay. Maybe not in the staffs opinion. But honestly, these were the best dumplings I’ve ever had. I’m so glad I ordered them, because I nearly hadn’t. I had had a bad pork dumpling with breakfast and just the thought of more pork dumplings seemed bad. But it had a star next to it and was one of their more popular and famous dumplings. So I went for it. And I’m glad I did.

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Xiaolongbao are also known as soup dumplings. Which is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. Essentially there’s soup inside of them, which is why the instructions say to poke holes in them, so you don’t burn your mouth.

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I was surprised at how quickly I ate all 5 of my xiaolongbao and was sad when it was over. Next came the vegetable and ground pork wontons.

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These were also quite good and even though there were a lot of them, I still finished them all off. I think between the two, though, the xiaolongbao were my favorite. Lastly after some more free tea and some sprite, came my dessert dumplings. They looked, from the outside, very much the same.

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But the inside was definitely different. The taro one was easy to eat. The taro didn’t spill out and was a beautiful pale lavender.

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The chocolate however, while also delicious, was liquid and thus as soon as I bit into it was in a rush to go everywhere. I had to eat it quickly. But still got a picture, very carefully.

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I really honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to finish 14 dumplings after eating a very dense and heavy bagel, but I did and I’m kinda proud of it. It was absolutely delicious and I’m so glad my coworker mentioned it. It’s also clearly very very popular. When I left it was time for most people to grab dinner. And so many groups were waiting around that was hard to leave the restaurant and get through the crowd. They had over an hour wait.

Din Tai Fung is a chain that can be found in many places, not just in Taiwan. If you see it, give it a try. The one I went to in the Taipei 101 mall is open from 11am until 9:30pm, Sunday through Thursday and from 11am until 10pm on Friday and Saturday.  They also sell cute dumpling souvenirs.

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