Din Tai Fung is a famous dim sum place that has locations worldwide. Much as I like dim sum, I have to admit I’d never heard of it until they opened a location near me. There was so much hype before, during and after the opening that I never went to that location. I heard tales of 90-minute+ wait times and “it’s not as good as the one in Southern California”, two things that don’t make intuitive sense to me unless people who were willing to wait that long for dim sum had never tried the So Cal location or didn’t care.
While I like dim sum as much as the next person, I could not see myself waiting that long for a table, no matter how good the dim sum is reputed to be. I told myself I would wait until it had been open longer and the hype had died down but that was well over a year ago and I was still hearing about long wait times so I never made it over there. So I took advantage of being in Hong Kong and having a Din Tai Fung within walking distance of our hotel to go try it.
After Sandra and I did our bakery trek, we both needed to change into dry clothes back at the hotel (seriously, Mother Nature’s shower did us in) but at least we were comfortable again on our way to lunch. We got there around 1 pm and I was pleased to see there were no lines and no waiting. The hostess seated us right away, taking us past the glass-enclosed cubby where their workers were expertly making dim sum. I wanted to gawk but by then I was actually hungry.
I was used to thinking of dim sum being served in carts being pushed around the restaurant and you flag the server who might have the dishes you want. Uh, no, not at Din Tai Fung. It was a notch above the dim sum cart scene in that you had a picture menu at the table that showed their offerings and you checked off the items you wanted on a separate, disposable, printed menu.
|Steamed Pork Bun|
My plain eating ways led me to the typical dim sum fare: siu mai (steamed pork dumplings), har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) and a steamed pork bun Sandra and I split. Sandra was a more experienced dim sum and Din Tai Fung eater so she knew to look for the dishes that were available in Hong Kong but might not be the same at other Din Tai Fung locations. I had nothing to compare the Hong Kong location with so I was happy to go along. We also ordered pork fried rice (such an innocuous name for seriously good pork) and a gyoza-like dim sum that was, as she put in, “in a different form factor”.
I’ll say here and now that everything was pretty good. They served the dim sum one dish at a time so that you could eat it at its peak warmth and freshness. The dumpling wraps were not too thick but thin, the filling inside of each was ridiculously juicy and tasty and that was an amazing steamed pork bun. Normally I prefer baked pork buns as I like the bread baked more than steamed but since the steamed bun wasn’t too thick (and hence not too filling), it was delicious and hit just the right note. Plus the filling was perfect.
My favorites were the shrimp dumplings. Not only were they cute and aesthetically pleasing with the “loot bag” look (I don’t know how else to describe it) and the whole shrimp on top, but the dumpling wrap and pork-and-shrimp filling were so good.
|Pork Fried Rice|
Probably the only one I was less enthused about was the gyoza-like dumplings in their different form factor. I liked the form factor and the crispness of the wrapper but the filling had too much chive flavor for my taste. It wasn’t bad but as I was getting full, I’d rather expend the remaining room in my waistband for the other dishes.
I have no idea how the Hong Kong Din Tai Fung stacks up against its sister locations but from my one experience, it gets multiple thumbs up from me. I still don’t think I’d wait 90 minutes or more for it if I had to but it’s seriously good dim sum nonetheless.