Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Din Tai Fung - Sydney

Having had a busy day and not much lunch in my stomach, I was slightly hungry as I met with my partner. After a very short discussion of possible places to eat, we decided on the relatively new and much raved-about dumpling place, Din Tai Fung - rated in the Top 10 Restaurants of the world (voted by the 'New York Times').

Din Tai Fung

As we had heard about the notoriously long lines, we decided to head towards the restaurant albeit still early. And when we got there, there was no line. It was yet to be 5pm and the restaurant doesn't open til 5.30pm. Nonetheless, we saw a lot of little chefs in the window meticulously making dumplings what would soon be in my stomach.

Factory line of chefs in little white hats, masks and aprons.

Hard at work making dumplings

Pitying us, the front-desk waitress person gave us a ticket number (with included menu) and said we could come back a bit before 5.30pm. Menu in hand, I scanned, re-scanned, and re-re-scanned the food items - and still could not decide on what to eat. So the task was left to my partner! :)

A few minutes before 5.30pm, we scurried back to the restaurant only to find a line of people waiting outside. Lucky we have a ticket number! After being seated, we were attended to entirely in mandarin. Funny that, although both my partner and I are of asian descent, mandarin is not a language we are fluent in. Nonetheless, the aroma of the upcoming food made up for this oversight.

We ended up ordering the famous pork dumplings (Xiao Long Bao - $8.80) which were little pork dumplings with soup that simply bursts in your mouth. The "skin" of this little dumpling was oh so delicate and thin, yet resilient against breakages. Mmm... quite the perfect little parcel!

Xiao Long Bao & it's condiments (ginger in vinegar) - $8.80

Here it is again.

And again...

Close-up of the ginger in vinegar

We also ordered two appetisers - the 'Din Tai Fung vegetarian delight' ($3.80), and the 'Silken Tofu with Pork Floss & Century Egg' ($6.80). The vegetarian delight was quite a delight. A mixture of the traditional vegetarian shop taste with a mild chilli flavour. The tofu dish is served as a cold dish. As I have a bias towards pork floss (a favourite of mine since I was young), and preserved duck egg, I quite enjoyed this delicacy.

Din Tai Fung Vegetarian Delight - $3.80

Silken Tofu with Pork Floss & Century Egg - $6.80

The next to come was the 'Prawn & Pork Shao Mai' ($9.80). I've heard quite good reviews about this dish and paying close to ten dollars for four little dumplings, I had quite high expectations, which, regrettably, were not met. The prawn on this "shao mai" was very small and the rest of the package... well, it tastes almost the same as the Xiao Long Bao (but a bit worse). So being pricier and getting less dumplings, I had expected more.

Pork & Prawn Shao Mai - $9.80

A lone Shao Mai

Lastly, there was the 'Prawn & Pork Wonton Soup' ($8.80). My partner really enjoyed these. He raved on about how the wrapping of the wonton went down sooooo smoothly, along with the soup which seeped in through the non-closed edge of the wonton, mixing in with the pork mixture inside. However, as I, admittedly, am of half Shanghainese descent, I didn't find these wontons quite so spectacular as they simply reminded me of ones I make at home with my mum. Nevertheless, if my partner says they were good, they probably are.

Prawn & Pork Wonton Soup - $8.80

As going to Din Tai Fung was a very impulsive decision, and the only camera I had with me at the time was the one on my phone, you may have noticed the pictures being a bit blurrier than usual. But not to worry, as this is definitely a restaurant worth re-visiting, better pictures can probably be taken next time!

Food - 9/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6/10
Overall - 30/40

Din Tai Fung

Shop 11.04, Level 1, World Square Shopping Centre
644 George St, Sydney
Tel: (02) 9264 6010

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