Aahh.. the makings of a good xiao long bao are simple. Delicate dumpling wrapper, seasoned ground pork, lots of soup, and a lot of bamboo steamers on a table. For Xiao Long Bao fanatics, there’s one restaurant that claims fame for this soupy dumpling.
Din Tai Fung
The New York Times hailed it as the 10 best restaurants in the world in 1993. The Michelin Guide rated the chain’s Tsim Sha Tsui location with 1 Michelin Star. Specializing in the Chinese soup dumpling, Din Tai Fung first started in Taiwan in 1958 as an oil company and became famous in 1980 when founder, Yang Bingyi, and his wife decided to make these soup dumplings to survive drastic business conditions. Now, there are Din Tai Fung restaurants all over Asia, and even in the United States.
Last time I hit Hong Kong with my family, I insisted to have a Yum Cha (small plates) dim-sum lunch at Din Tai Fung, so the entire brood could get their tastebuds’s take if this restaurant indeed lives up to its reputation
At the 3rd floor of the Silvercord Building in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui side, Din Tai Fung occupies a generous space for its restaurant.
It gets awfully busy especially during lunchtime, so reserving is a must, much more on a Sunday.
While waiting, they have replicas of what their offerings are… and for a hungry stomach, it looks almost as good as the real thing.
The star of every table is definitely an order of Xiao Long Bao, soup dumpling usually made from pork filling and steamed to release a delicate soup that keeps steaming the dumpling.
To fully enjoy the Xiao Long Bao experience at Din Tai Fung, instructions are laid out on each table guiding neophytes on the traditional way to eat it.
They give pickled ginger on a little sauce bowl, and you can customize the dipping sauce based on this little dish.
Suggested ratio of Soy Sauce & Black Vinegar is 3:1, depending if you prefer a more acidic dipping sauce to cut down the fattiness of the pork and the broth.
Once you’ve made your own dipping dish, it’s time to try your Xiao Long Bao.
Once you dip the dumpling, place it on the ceramic soup spoon to keep the sauce & soup intact. I suggest you also place some ginger on the spoon for an extra layer of flavor. Be careful, it’s hot off the steamer. What you end up with is a delicate, soft dumpling bursting with pork and broth. It’s small enough to be eaten on one bite, no ‘giant xiao long baos’ here.
For a special version, try the Crabmeat Xiao Long Bao, adding pieces of crabmeat fat in the dumpling before steaming. This version has a deeper flavor profile, and I actually enjoyed it more because it was something different compared to the normal pork soup dumplings. Also, the dumpling was much soupier (I love that non-word). Xiao Long Bao lovers: meet your mistress.
Other dishes on the Yum Cha menu include Kuchay (Vegetable) dumpling. The green vegetables were packed tightly, making this a substantial, albeit healthy, yum cha.
Steamed White Chicken with Ginger Sauce
Garlic Gai Lan Greens
Fried Sole Fish in Soy Sauce
Steamed Duck Tongue
Yes, I know. That’s a lot of tongue. And yes, there must be a lot of ducks without tongues right now.
Pickled Bitter Gourd
Freshly Hand-pulled Noodles with Garlic Sauce
Chili Dumpling Soup with Scallions
Taro Sweet Buns
Cutie nephew Jetty seems to like the Taro Buns. Now I’ve taught my little critters Xiao Long Bao 101 at THE place for Xiao Long Bao.
When you visit Hong Kong, make sure to stop by Din Tai Fung and make their soup dumpling the standard for Xiao Long Bao.
Din Tai Fung’s Story
Shop 130,3/F. Silvercord,30 Canton Road,
+852 2730 6928