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  • Writer's pictureFragrantEatery

An Insider's Guide to Din Tai Fung

📍California Locations

Price: 3.5 🌟 - On the pricey side

Taste: 4 🌟

Uniqueness: 3.5 🌟

Environment: 4.5 🌟

Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao - Din tai fung
Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao

Din Tai Fung is one of those places that I crave ever so often. I know what you are thinking. "This place, is old news. We know it's good. What other things can you tell us about this place?" Welp, sorry to disappoint, but this is a guide for those that don't like Din Tai Fung and or haven't tried it before.

Now you might be asking, "What makes you think, that you can change our minds into liking a place we don't like?" Well, as a kid I grew up with the saying that "You should try something more than once before you, write it off." As well as, I have, convinced one of my friends who has tried Din Tai Fung before and didn't like it, to see it in a different light. Thus, I think I might have a thing or two up my sleeves.

Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork Spicy Wontons - Din Tai Fung
Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork Spicy Wontons

Enough, with the teasing, let's get started with this guide. Din Tai Fung, is a Taiwanese brand selling Chinese food with a main focus on Shanghainese and Taiwanese cuisines. Their line up consists of cold dishes, soups, pan fried dumplings, steamed buns, wontons, veggies, fried rice, noodles, meat dishes, zhong zhi, dessert buns, milk tea, cocktails and of course the highlight - Xiao long bao.

With a line up like that it might be hard for someone to decide, what to get especially, if it's someone who is indecisive. And this is where I come in. I will tell you the best combination for the perfect meal.

The first dish, I "MUST" recommend is in the picture to the right. "Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork Spicy Wontons." They are so good! This dish originates from Sichuan, China, but do not worry this version from Din Tai Fung is not as spicy as the ones in Sichuan. The wonton's from this dish is so light and refreshing, due to the filling being a mix of shrimp and pork. The light shrimp offsets the heavy pork fat, and with

Shredded Kurobuta Pork Fried Rice - Din Tai Fung
Shredded Kurobuta Pork Fried Rice

the spicy, tangy and sweet chili sauce. It's a perfect match. I have, tried the Kurobuta pork and chicken wontons, and I would have to say it's not as good as this shrimp version. On a side note, please make sure to not let your waiter, take the bowl away after you finish the wontons. You will need the chili sauce from this dish for the next dish, I will be talking about. That is the "Shredded Kurobuta Pork Fried Rice." Mix the chili sauce from the spicy wontons with this fried rice and you will, thank me later. This combination is also something that my friend (mentioned above), approved of. Now you might be wondering, if any of the other fried rice, would be worth trying.

String Beans with Garlic - Din Tai Fung
String Beans with Garlic

Personally, I have tried the other fried rice dishes, such as the pork chop fried rice, and I have to say, I did not like it. This was because the pork chop was on the dry side. Please note, this review is based on California locations only. Each location has their respective chefs that could recreate the recipes better.

As for their veggie dishes, I would totally recommend the "String Beans with Garlic" or also known as "Four Season Beans." I order this dish all the time, if you love garlic, this dish is made for you. I have tried this dish at three locations in California. I personally think that the Din Tai Fung in Costa Mesa makes this the best. Let's just say some other locations did not stir fry, the beans enough, so you occasionally get big pockets of salt. Their other veggies are more,

Braised Beef Noodle Soup - Din Tai Fung
Braised Beef Noodle Soup

Americanized. Thus, please try on your own accord. The next dish I would recommend is their "Braised Beef noodle Soup." Since, this is a Taiwanese chain and one of the most famous dishes from Taiwan is braised beef noodle soup. What more do I need to say? Look at that glisten, you know you want it. The noodles are chewy and the beef is tender and flavorful. I personally do find the broth to be a bit on the salty side, but it does not affect the overall dish.

And of course, I saved the star of the show for last. The crème dela creme, Xiao long bao. This is what Din Tai Fung is known for and if you don't try anything else, please try this. It is to note that Din Tai Fung makes their Xiao long bao's skin, so thin yet so chewy. This is very hard to find in a lot of dumpling stores in the US. A lot of times the restaurants makes the filling good but the wrapping falls apart because it's overcooked or it's too thick and not chewy at all. Thus this is a thumbs up for Din Tai Fung. Din Tai Fung also has many fillings for their Xiao Long Bao, they have the regular Kurabuta pork, then Kurabuta pork and crab and also Kurabuta pork and truffles. I have tried them all. I would say go for the OG Kurabuta pork. The other combinations weren't as good compared to the OG god. The one with the crab, was a bit fishy, as the pork and the crab's hepatopancreas, did not fit well together. As for the truffle, the earthy taste mixed with the pork, tasted very much like a musty mushroom.

Other notable mentions are the cucumber salad, sweet and sour baby back ribs, and shrimp & kurobuta pork pot stickers. The cucumber salad is a cold dish, it is nice and refreshing, a bit spicy and a perfect fit for summer. You can also make this dish at home as there are many versions all over tiktok. The sweet and sour baby back ribs is just as it sounds, sweet and tangy, but please note, some locations use too much vinegar and thus the overall balance of the taste is a bit off. Lastly, what more do I need to say about the shrimp and kurobuta pork pot stickers? The best filling combination with a crunch!

Recipe for a fulfilling meal:

1) Cucumber salad

2) Shrimp & Kurabuta pork Xiao long bao

3) Spicy Shrimp & Kurabuta pork spicy wontons

4) Kurbuta pork fried rice (Mixed with leftover spicy wonton chili oil)

5) String beans with garlic

6) Braised beef noodle soup or pan fried kurabuta pork and shrimp dumplings or sweet and sour baby back ribs.

Happy eating!

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