After a year’s delay caused by the May 2010 political protests and subsequent fires, Taiwanese dumpling chain Din Tai Fung recently opened its first branch in Thailand at the Central World Plaza mall at the Ratchaprasong intersection. Last week, Tawn and I made a trip there to see how well it upholds the chain’s reputation. The results? Overall, positive, but a little bland.
I almost didn’t write this entry because, well, how many times do I need to post pictures of food from Din Tai Fung? I’ve been twice in Taipei and then again in Hong Kong and Singapore. The pictures never look that different. But I waited more than a year for this branch to open and I thought it would be a shame not to give it due consideration.
One feature of Din Tai Fung locations is that the kitchen, or at least the dumpling making portion, is very visible. The company takes pride in how they operate and their cleanliness is a sign of quality. Plus, the army of cooks making thousands of dumplings is impressive to watch. Here are some photos I took, which I think looked a little more interesting in black and white.
The dining area faces large windows overlooking the Big C Supercenter across the street, letting in lots of natural light. Another seating area is open to the rest of the mall, which leaves you feeling a bit exposed.
The logos on the spoon and napkin have the Chinese, English, Japanese, and Thai versions of the restaurant’s name. The lady working the front counter, taking names, and coordinating orders was from the Singapore branch, leaving me curious about how they manage operations in different countries. Is this a franchise location or is it owned directly by the original company in Taiwan?
We started with a special “Oriental Salad in Vinegar Dressing,” which is a combination of seaweed, sprouts, mung bean noodles, and thinly sliced vegetables. While a tasty combination, it was underseasoned and benefitted greatly from a hearty splash of soy sauce.
Sliced ginger in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, the ideal condiment into which you should dip your bao, or dumplings.
The original Xiao Long Bao, steamed pork dumplings. Here in Bangkok, as well as in the Hong Kong location, I felt that the filling was under-seasoned. My memory from Taipei is that the dumplings were full of flavor, but perhaps I need to go back and test that memory.
Another variation on the dumplings, this one with vegetables and pork. The filling was more flavorful than with the original Xiao Long Bao.
Perhaps my favorite dish, the wontons with black vinegar and chilli oil. Stuffed with shrimp, these lightly sweet dumplings are served in a sauce that is not as frighteningly spicy as you might imagine.
A good concluding dish was the fried rice topped with pork chop. The lack of flavor in the bao was made up for by the pork chop, which was liberally dusted in salt and pepper.
If you are thinking of ordering dessert at the Bangkok branch, be advised that nothing is yet available. I didn’t ask why but perhaps one day they will fix whatever problem they are having.
All told, the quality continues to be high and the Din Tai Fung company can be confident that their good name will be upheld here. I’m left with the lingering question of whether the blandness in their dumplings is something that I just didn’t notice at the original locations in Taipei and the Singapore location, too, or are the dumplings actually less flavorful here and in Hong Kong? Further tests will have to be conducted!
Meanwhile, I am glad our wait for Din Tai Fung is over.
I for one will definitely give it a go but I agree it won’t match that of the one in Taipei or even the lower standard of the branch in HK.
No dessert available? Why is it in the menu then? What a tease!
It is interesting that the taste ti different. I notice in some of the chain restaurants here there is a slightly different taste in the products even though they follow the same recipe. The food looks delicious and I a not sure I would want dessert. Thanks for the review.
When I ate there last time, there were a few items not available too! I just did an entry on Din Tai Fung in Seoul. 😀
Now I’m really curious…everyone’s Din Tai Fung-ing 🙂 I will be traveling to HK, SG & Seoul from Sept – Nov – all of which have Din Tai Fung. 😀
yay! love this chain. Im going to the one in arcadia, ca in a couple of weeks…. miss da delish food so much! 😀
omg, this made me so hungry….i wish they had one in nyc =/
When you guys are here in Sept. we should wrap dumplings again! I’ll also show you my basic recipe for making the meat mixture so you can tweak it and make it your own.
The mouth waters…
Looks like goos stuff!
They serve delicious food! I used to be addicted to it.
I’m just a little drooly… this looks yummy. And the photos have 0 calories and NO cholesterol!
Oh, how I’d love to try these dishes… I need a drool bib for posts like this.
Yeah hungry… and I am fasting!But, when I come there next year, you will take me there won’t you?
@aPieceOfTheSky – Try Joe’s Shanghai in NYC chinatown (I heard the Flushing one is also good. The midtown location one has worse-than-normal customer service – for a chinese restaurant)
i must find a xiao long bao place near me!
I like the Taipei ones more than the ones in Singapore. But I like the Xiao Long Baos from Shanghai the most.
i recently visited Din Tai Fung in taipei, where it originated. i must say, it was much better than what i find here in indonesia, as Din Tai Fung in indonesia doesn’t serve pork.
Just catching up on my subscriptions (also saw Gary’s entry on DTF too). I think you should do a DTF tour (is there one that you haven’t been to yet?)The staff with the masks in the kitchen – gosh, I must have some sort of fetish about guys with those type of mask (like surgical mask). This is tmi…
@ElusiveWords – Interesting… I’ll have to make a note of that interesting, Matt.@rudyhou – And Din Tai Fung without pork is, well, not much at all… =(@icepearlz – I look forward to going to Shanghai someday to experience them.@kunhuo42 – I can’t beleive you haven’t done that yet, Aaron.@mabel – Thanks for the recommendation.@ZSA_MD – Can take you but the menu (especially these dumplings) are largely pork and shrimp. I know you don’t eat pork. Do you eat shellfish or not?@Aiamerran – Official Xanga food porn drool bib, right? They should sell those.@murisopsis – Unless you print them up and eat them.@SillyHelena – It would be easy to end up addicted to Din Tai Fung. If I lived in Taipei, I have no doubt I would eat there very frequently.@tehls – Oh, that would be fun. Definitely more time spent cooking.@aPieceOfTheSky – So many good restaurants in NYC, surely you don’t need DTF?@Sinful_Sundae – I’ve heard the one in LA is only so-so… is that true?@oxyGENE_08 – While you probably don’t need to visit the Din Tai Fung in each of those cities, it would be worth stopping by at least one of them.@CurryPuffy – We’re giving them an awful lot of free publicity, I think. Perhaps they owe us a few baskets of XLB.@Fatcat723 – Perhaps they modify the taste just a bit to account for local taste buds?@Roadlesstaken – I know, right? You really shouldn’t tease people like that.@Fongster8 – When you are here, we can go munch some Xiao Long Bao!
@christao408 – Hah! Agreed.
um… they are OK. definitely high traffic/very busy all day long. Still my personal fav (xiao long bao) in town for sure….ps of course i’ve had better ones in taiwan but im just happy to be having “authentic” Taiwanese food in the States.
@christao408 – exactly! sadly, indonesia is majorily a muslim community, hence almost ALL chinese restaurants that are located inside malls do not serve pork. their trick is by replacing all things pork to all things chicken or beef. eg. siumai dumpling which normally made of pork n shrimp now made with chicken n shrimp. the red colored bbq pork now is red colored bbq chicken. anything ham is replaced by beef ham. and so on… all these to meet the public standard. so in order for these chinese restaurants to survive, they have to NOT serve pork. this way the local non-chinese indonesians will come and spend their money there. and so where would the chinese go to get their pork? NOT in the malls for sure. they go to various residential areas where many chinese reside, for at these areas they’ll find REAL chinese restaurants.
@Sinful_Sundae – Yes, sometimes “good enough” is, in fact, good enough! =D
totally…. 😀 miss ur food porn XOXO