Din Tai Fung

A few things to know about Din Tai Fung in Sydney’s World Square. Firstly it is a little tricky to find. Management admits the signage is not good, so just remember that once you are near Bay Swiss go up the broad staircase then turn right. Look for the queue. And if there isn’t one there should be, because Din Tai Fung is one of the hottest new Asian eating places in town.

dintaifung-6-steamersMore things about Din Tai Fung. You need to learn them first because once you are eating those dumplings, all else is forgotten. The name is a combination of the names of two companies that were important to the young founder, Bingyi Yang, who at first opened a humble dumpling stall in Taipei, Taiwan in 1958. Today Din Tai Fung is one of Asia’s premier Chinese restaurants and now the world renowned restaurant chain has just opened it’s 41st shop, in Australia. It is already in nine other countries: Japan, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, USA, Hong Kong.

There are around forty items on the menu, dumplings, of course, but also rice, noodles, soups and vegetables, all prepared on the premises, all with scientific precision. On a tour of the tiny show-kitchen at the front of the restaurant – glass-walled so passers by can stop to watch the action – we stand and watch entranced as white capped  chefs weigh each thimble-sized piece of dough then hand-roll each dumpling wrapper and stuff them exactly the same. It’s finicky meticulous work and we are told that Din Fai Tung’s diners go through about 5000 of these delicious mouthfuls every day!

So that’s the basics. Din Tai Fung’s famous pork dumplings - Xiao Long Bao (literally ‘little basket bun’) are the signature dish here, and we know they must be good because, looking around the other tables, almost every face appears Asian.

The promise is that the food is made fresh as soon as your order is taken, steamed in exactly three minutes and on your table in seconds after that.  So good is it that I am told when celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was asked by ‘Foodie Confidential’ what is the one dish he would travel halfway around the world to eat again, he replied: “The soup dumpling at Din Tai Fung”.

xlg-with-steamerSoup dumpling? Did I forget to say that somehow – somehow – each pork-filled dumpling comes with its own soup inside the dumpling. And there is a special trick and etiquette to eating it too.  After it arrives in a bamboo steamer, take the dumpling in your chopsticks and dip it in the sauce, which consists of two parts vinegar, one part soy and a few slices of shredded young ginger in a tiny dish on the table Transfer the dumpling to your ceramic spoon. Poke a hole in the dumpling with your chopstick to allow the soup to drain into the bowl of the spoon, then drink the soup. Only then, eat the dumpling and enjoy the flavour everyone raves about!

It’s really simple once you get the hang of it. But maybe you just need to try another. And another. Oh and some of the other 40 dishes on the menu. Then come back again, to try the rest. Perhaps that, really, is Din Tai Fung’s secret of its success.

Address: Din Tai Fung, Shop 11.04, Level 1, World Square Shopping Centre, 644 George St, Sydney. 02 9264 6010. www.dintaifung.com.tw

Open 7 days Lunch 11:30am - 3:00pm  Dinner 5:30 - 9:30pm

 

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