Din Tai Fung was not a new name when we decided to visit the restaurant located at Tsim Sha Tsui. Having tried it several times in Singapore when it first opened up years ago, I arrived at the restaurant expecting the same quality considering that it was awarded Michelin 1-star in Hong Kong and it was also ranked as the world's top 10 restaurants by the New York Times.
The queue was comparable to the Din Tai Fung in Singapore. After receiving a queue ticket from the receptionist, we had a stroll around the shopping mall for almost 30 minutes before we finally got a table. It was not even the peak dining period at about half six in the evening, but the crowd was already building up and pretty fast too.
One of the features of Din Tai Fung was that you would be able to witness the making of the dumplings and 'baus' right in front of you.
Signature Steamed Pork Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) (小笼包)
The unique Din Tai Fung's signature rendition of the steamed pork dumpling consists of juicy meat filling wrapped in a supposedly melt-in-your-mouth skin. The silky smooth dough was made in small batches to maintain freshness. Subsequently, it would be rolled out and cut into identical pieces, with each piece being weighed to ensure that it meets the requirements of 20.8-21.2 grams. The small pieces of dough are then rolled out transforming into silvers of thin smooth skin before being pleated with at least 18 exquisite folds. Finally, the dumplings are steamed at the perfect temperature and served piping hot.
Despite the rather impressive set-up to how the dumpling was actually made, the skin of the dumpling tasted slightly stiff, probably owed to airing, which was rather disappointing to say the least. The dumpling skin however was relatively thin, yet managed to encapsulate the warm soup within. Upon the first bite, the soup within the dumpling burst out and it tasted clear and fresh. The minced pork being the core of the dumpling was tender and succulent. The essence of this dish was supposedly the delicate dough skin, which was pleated, twisted at the top and subsequently steamed. For some reason, it was not delivered to us fulfilling those expectations.
Steamed vegetable and pork dumplings (菜肉蒸饺)
Delicately handmade with precision once again as you might have seen the folds on the dumpling, the steamed vegetable and pork dumpling tasted juicy with delectable delights of savoury pork meat and fragrant Chinese cabbage. The cabbage had been finely diced and well blended with the meat, though we would have preferred it more with more meat filling to give a stronger punch to the flavour. It somewhat tasted too 'vegetarian' with the cabbage being the dominating taste, which did not quite go with the balanced palate we were expecting. Made with similar dough for the skin of the wrapping, the texture of this tasted much fresher, softer compared to the xiao long bao.
Noodle with minced pork in bean sauce (炸酱面)
Despite being a simple dish, we enjoyed the handmade noodles which was cooked to al dente standard, giving it a pleasantly springy consistency texture. The minced pork in bean sauce was itself a very savoury-inclined element to the dish, which the dish owed its flavours to. Complementing the plain noodles, this was a delightful tuck in, with peas and diced tomatoes to go alongside.
Egg fried rice with fried pork chop (排骨蛋炒饭)
The fried pork chop was one of Din Tai Fung's signature dishes, with the thin slice of meat finely marinated with complex herbs. It tasted very tender and managed to retain the moisture much needed within the meat. Despite it being fried, it did not dehydrate the meat of its much desired moisture to give it the juicy bite. There was a lot going on with the flavours with each mouthful, but the underlying taste was a very palatable savoury one. Minimal seasoning was used for the eggs, without stealing the limelight away from the natural fragrance of the eggs. The 'wok-fire' of the dish was highly desired and unlike most fried rice, you would be able to taste large egg fragments. Despite it being a simple dish, Din Tai Fung did everything right, focusing on minute details such as using the right kind of rice, coating each individual grain with the imparted flavour and each plate of rice was kept to a measured weight to ensure consistency in serving size like the dumplings.
In general, the service was top-notched. One would expect to be warmly greeted by each and every passing server upon walking into the restaurant. Food wise, I would say it was value for money, considering that it was accredited Michelin 1-star. With or without the award, it was an affordable meal at a comfortable setting. Despite the lackluster dish of their famous 'xiao long bao', there were merits worth visiting for.
Din Tai Fung
Shop 130, 3/F, Silvercord
Shop 130, 3/F, Silvercord
30 Canton Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2730 6928
, by cy