I am currently on vacation in Southern California and on an eating frenzy. Having lived in Southern California for eight years, I am returning to many places that I miss, but also having some new dining experiences.
Din Tai Fung is an international phenomenon specializing in xiao lung bao. They have restaurants all over the world including Canada, Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand. I didn’t know of their existence when I lived in Los Angeles. I recently heard about Din Tai Fung in Seattle, but didn’t have a chance to eat there while visiting. There are two locations around the corner from each other in Arcadia so my friend and I made plans to go there.
I don’t typically talk about customer service, but I am making a point to talk about it here. Everyone that works at Din Tai Fung is extremely friendly, especially the waiters, unthinkable at a Chinese restaurant. Our waitress Claire took our order, came by to check on us frequently, wiped the table down before dessert, and brought us new plates and chopsticks.
My friend and I added an order of hot and sour soup after seeing it come out to our neighbors. It was quite good; it had plenty of black pepper.
Of course we had to have the xiao lung bao (they call it juicy pork dumpling). I can’t say these were the best I have had, but they are the most consistent. Most of the time you get a few dry dumplings or they break on you while you pick them up. Every dumpling had soup to squirt out.
We ordered shrimp and pork wontons with spicy sauce. The spicy sauce on these were the highlight.
Stir fried Shanghai rice cake with pork is one of my favorite dishes. Rice cakes are made from glutinous rice flour and when cooked are chewy. Din Tai Fung did a good job with them.
Although we wanted the sweet taro bun for dessert, they ran out. Claire recommended the sweet taro dumplings instead and said we could order half an order of five dumplings. I liked the taro filling a lot, which would have been the same filling as the bun. The outer skin of the dumpling was chewy and gave the dessert a mochi texture.
Din Tai Fung was definitely worth the visit and I am not the only one that thinks so.
The Los Angeles Times Readers Choice Award for Best Chinese restaurant in the Pasadena/San Gabriel area for 2012 went to Din Tai Fung. Congratulations!