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Taiwan’s No. 1 Restaurant: Din Tai Fung January 7, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Food, Taiwan, Travel.
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Din Tai Fung is without a doubt Taiwan's most famous restaurant

Restaurant: Din Tai Fung
Food: Chinese/Shanghai Cuisine
Location: Various (see below)
Price: Expect to spend around TWD 300-500 per person

When it comes to food, Din Tai Fung has become synonymous with Taiwan.  It is certainly the most well-known, having been named one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in the world by the New York Times.

Any time you walk past a Din Tai Fung restaurant in Taipei during lunch or dinner, expect to see queues of Japanese tourists (mixed in with a few locals, of course) – so get in early to avoid the wait.  The situation has somewhat improved with the development of more Din Tai Fung branches around Taipei (bringing the total up to four).

In fact, there are now dozens of Din Tai Fung restaurants around the world, including in Japan, China, Singapore, the United States and Australia, but as someone who has been to a couple of these overseas branches, I can tell you that they’re just not as good as the ‘real deal’ in Taipei.  This explains why tourists still consider Din Tai Fung a ‘must-visit’ in Taipei despite there being branches in their own country.

(Click on ‘More…’ to read on and see the delicious food pics!)

We visited the Zhongxiao branch of Ding Tai Fung in Taipei, which is probably the least busy (the original Xinyi branch is always the busiest, the Fuxing branch is in a major department store, and the Tienmu branch is new).

Outside the Zhongxiao branch of Din Tai Fung

Even before you step into the restaurant, you will be served by wired-up, professionally dressed waitresses outside, who will direct you to your seat if there is space, or give you a number if you have to wait.

Inside, Din Tai Fung is impeccably clean.  The waitresses scatter around the restaurant floor looking to assist, while the men make the delicious food inside the see-through kitchen in white clothes, white hats and white face masks.  If you have bags, they offer a portable, mini storage bag to be put by your side.  If you have coats on the back of seats, they help you cover them up.  If you run out of tea, they will top you up immediately without being asking.  The place is truly a well-oiled machine, and I guess it’s all part of the Din Tai Fung experience.

And the food.  No restaurant is immune from over-hyping, but in the case of Din Tai Fung it’s hard not to heap praise on it.  The ‘must-try’ is of course the steamed pork dumplings, which are simply divine.  The skin is extremely thin, but it never arrives at your table punctured.  Have it plain or dip it in the ginger + soy/vinegar sauce.  Either way, upon that first bite you’ll experience an explosion of soup bursting into your mouth, and it’s awesome.

Din Tai Fung's famous 'Xiao Long Bao' up close

However, I would recommend not getting too many steamed pork dumplings, because there are plenty of other delicious dishes.  For instance, the steamed vegetable dumplings, the shrimp shu mai, the chilli oil wontons,  the various noodles or the exquisite fried rice – you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.  Nothing is extravagant but everything is of the highest quality and taste.

The cold side dishes at Din Tai Fung are surprisingly refreshing and tasty

The chilli oil wontons are full of tangy flavours

The hot and sour soup is a tad on the plain side, but it's so you can add your own vinegar to taste

The shrimp shu mai is very much like the steamed pork dumplings with a shrimp on top!

The vegetarian option doesn't compare less favourably at all

Perhaps the best fried rice I've ever tasted

The various noodles at Din Tai Fung are also worth trying

Price-wise, Din Tai Fung is considered up the higher end for food of this type, but at TWD 300-500 a head, it’s still relatively cheap compared to any mid-tier restaurant in Western countries.

It’s hard not to give Din Tai Fung a 10 out of 10, whether it is just the food or the whole dining experience.

More info

Check out Din Tai Fung’s English website, which introduces the legend of the restaurant, the food and the various store locations and opening hours (under the ‘Around the World’ tab).

Via the MRT, the easiest one to get to is the Fuxing branch.  Just catch the blue line to Zhongxaio Fuxing and head into the Fuxing SOGO department store (not the Zhongxiao one).  It’s on the B2 level.

To get to the Zhongxiao branch, catch the MRT on the blue line to Zhongxiao Dunhua.  Get out at exit 3 and walk straight, past Ming Yao department store.  At the next intersection, if you look to your right, you’ll see the red Din Tai Fung sign not very far down.

To get to the Tienmu branch, catch the MRT on the red line to Zhishan and check the signs at the station to get to the Tienmu SOGO department store.  The Din Tai Fung is located on level B1.

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Comments»

1. matthew - January 7, 2010

nice pics!

and how do u rate the one in world square? I find it pricey, servings quite small and just not that good.

pacejmiller - January 7, 2010

Right on all 3 counts – no comparison to the real deal! You get bigger portions, cheaper prices and better food in Taiwan.

2. Christina - April 17, 2010

very well written…i’m currently in the process of writing up my own review of the place and it’s taking me a while. I love Din Tai Fung so much im trying hard to do it justice!

pacejmiller - April 19, 2010

Thanks for visiting my blog Christina. I just visited your awesome food blog and it looks like we could exchange notes on which places to visit next time I go to Taiwan!

3. best restaurant,india - June 11, 2010

nice pictures,and also i am getting mouth watering to see the food.add restaurant

4. Chow Times » Weekend Musings (July 17th, 2010) - July 17, 2010

[…] at that! The thinness of the skin … the pleats. Amazing huh? Click here to read pacejmiller’s post about Din Tai […]

5. jaaayneey - April 16, 2011

okay so i have this big dilemma. my boyfriends’ birthday is coming up and i wanted to surprise him. he’s in taiwan right now and i am residing here in chicago. the surprise is, i wanted to buy him a din tai fung gift card and flowers to be given to him when he goes there to eat. i just don’t know where i can reach the din tai fung location in taiwan? :( HELP? please?? email me at jaaayneey23@rocketmail.com


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