Sometimes, my food cravings take over and there’s little I can do to divert from the warpath. This time, the target was Din Tai Fung, and I was on a mission to eat there from the minute we arrived in Sydney last week. Sure, we’ve had delicious dumplings before. But there’s something about Din Tai Fung’s renowned precision (they literally measure each dumpling to within .2 grams of each other!) that lured me in. During their visit to Australia earlier this year, my brother and sister-in-law confirmed that their meal here was as delicious as their previous Din Tai Fung visit in Taiwan. Good enough for me… we were not disappointed.
When we arrived, we were given a beeper and a menu and told it would be about 10 minutes. Based on some reviews I’d read, I expected 10 minutes to mean something more like 30. But in less time than it took us open the menu (literally), we were being summoned to our table. A pleasant surprise, considering the restaurant was packed for the lunchtime rush. On the way to our table, our waitress asked for our order. I found this both charming and hilarious – we hadn’t had a chance to see the menu yet, but hey, they were obviously running a tight ship.
One of the first things we noticed through the glass outside was the sheer amount of cooks in the kitchen – insanity! Even more impressive were the stacks upon stacks of steamers being quickly rotated and shuffled out to diners. I was happy to be seated in plain sight of the kitchen doors – plenty of room for spying…
We ordered some drinks to start. I chose the avocado smoothie. Mild and rich with chocolate swirls… so yummy and half a meal in itself. He ordered the lychee-mint smoothie, which in comparison was much lighter and fresher.
First arrival: Minced pork, edamame and fermented tofu noodle. Super well balanced flavors – the saltiness of the pork and tofu was mellowed by the mild broth and firm (and almost sweet) edamame. I would have ordered 2 more of these for myself if not in public…
Luckily that’s when the pork xiao long bao arrived! Gorgeous minced pork and silky hot soup broth folded ever so precisely into perfectly uniform dough. Oh, my heart.
Yum – xiao long bao up close. They absolutely lived up to the hype. Each one really was identical in structure and taste. The pork wasn’t too dense (I dislike biting into a mince brick), with just the right quantity of soup for slurping. Just after these, an order of prawn + pork jiao zi, and a steamed pork bun came out… gobbled too quickly for a photo.
Finally on the side, the water spinach with fried garlic. The perfect complement to cut through all the fatty, salty goodness of the multiple rounds of dumplings.
What’s a meal without dessert? This golden red bean bread was a real standout for us – starchy-sweet red bean paste wrapped in a really light and crispy fried toastie, dipped in sesame seeds. Really unique, like nothing I’ve had, and I hope to have plenty more where that came from very soon. Anyone know if there’s a nice spot for this stuff in Melbourne?
We rolled out the door an hour or so later, relieved that we arrived on time to enjoy such a spectacular meal. The restaurant had practically cleared out by the time we paid – unbeknownst to us, they were only open for lunch until 2:30! Close call. Overall a fabulous experience that left us with surpassed expectations and stuffed to the brim well past dinner.