Posted by on Sep 12, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 0 comments

On Yong Kong Street in Taipei, Din Tai Fung’s original restaurant can be found popping out steamer after steamer of their specialty all day long – soup dumplings. Although a bit pricier than what you might find at other stores, this place is still worth a visit for the Taiwan tourist.

With stores located all around the world, this shop is not only well known but they know how to attract the tourists. A small gift shop selling various accessories with their mascot is right in front of the shop, giving the people waiting on line plenty to do until they’re seated – not to mention possibly emptying their wallets before even eating.

Inside, the restaurant is surprisingly big and of course, packed. The middle of the floor is occupied by the kitchen. Glass panels make it so that all curious customers can peek in on the busy chefs and attempt to invade their personal space. Or at least try to win a staring contest while making sure nothing’s slipped into the dumplings.

I kid.

Seeing as how all the other tables are busily gorging themselves on various assortments of soup dumplings, we decided that a steamer per person (ten dumplings each) should be more than enough.

First off, the vegetable soup dumpling.

Let me just say that I have no idea why we ordered this.

Sure, it wasn’t all that bad. The inside was stuffed full of finely chopped veggies. The skin itself wasn’t too thick and didn’t fall apart once you poked it either. But where’s the soup?

And that’s just it. There wasn’t any. So, I’d like to throw in my two cents and suggest that this thing just be called a dumpling without the misleading ‘soup’ attached.

Even though the first steamer left me a bit disappointed, I was quickly put at ease when the second steamer arrived.

Now these were the real deal.

Though it broke my heart to do so, I poked one open just so that you lovely readers could get a better look at it in all its delicious glory.

Lightly seasoned meat, skin that was nice and thin – the little knot at the top didn’t even taste too doughy – and most importantly, the soup. One poke said it all when the precious little spoonful of meat broth spilled out.

Things were looking up and the last steamer didn’t disappoint either.

What do I like more than an original soup dumpling? Soup dumpling that has tender bits and pieces of shrimp in it, that’s what.

When the container came, I was feeling a bit skeptical since I saw that these dumplings had been shaped the same way as the vegetable ones. These fears were soon put to rest.

Do you see that? That’s not bits and pieces of shrimp. That’s a whole entire shrimp hiding in my dumpling! Not to mention it’s still got a decent amount of juice lurking inside it too. Now how could I not get excited by this?

Compared to the original, these were lacking in the soup department, but what they were missing I felt was completely made up for by the shrimp.

All in all, the place really isn’t that bad and I was pretty satisfied at the end of the meal. Full actually. With the prices though, I probably wouldn’t go back too often despite their fame. If anything, this is a one time thing just for curiosity’s sake.

By the way, for the tourists under the age of twenty, you’re viable to apply for a Youth Travel Card. If you pull it out and show it off to the cashier, you’ll receive a small (but pretty cute) cellphone accessory of a soup dumpling. Hey, what’s free is free right?

~ AJ ~

P.S. For anyone who would like to try Din Tai Fung sometime in the future and is curious as to whether there are any stores located near them, check out their website at here .

Photographs taken and provided by AnnMarie and Jasmine Hwang.
For complete selection of photographs, please refer to the photo gallery: Soup Dumplings [9/12/10]

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