A few of the restaurants run by the same owners even have a Michelin star attached to them. Since I was finally settled in LA and my parents were in town, I decided a visit to its Arcadia location was in order.
The Wait – I showed up Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles around 11:30 AM on a Saturday and there was already a crowd of people waiting outside for their number to be called. As soon as I arrived, I beelined to the hostess stand who put me on a list, where I would receive a text message about five minutes before my table was ready.
I was given a menu and ordering form and told to fill it out before I was seated, which was very efficient! After about 20 minutes, our table was ready and our order was filled within 10 minutes of sitting down. I recommend arriving before Noon on the weekend, bringing the LA Times to read and parking yourself in the shade and be ready for a 30-minute wait. Do not come on an empty stomach or you will be hangry!
The Juicy Pork Dumplings are a must-order as they are the signature dish at Din Tai Fung and come in a basket of ten dumplings. I think these are the BEST soup dumplings I have ever had, especially when coupled with a small piece of fresh ginger which they leave out at each placesetting. I would advise against dipping into the vinegar – it’s too overpowering.
The dumplings are not overly salty with a delicate wrapper and tender pork on the inside. The ‘soup’ is a perfect consistency too and not overly fatty. I think they have really perfected the taste balance on these dumplings that they deserve all the accolades and hype.
I loved the chewy texture of the Shanghai Rice Cake with thin juicy pieces of stir-fried chicken. I would definitely order this again and it was a nice contrast to the steamed buns we ordered.
The dish is not overly greasy that it overpowers. I found that Din Tai Fung in comparison to other Chinese restaurants had a nice overall balance in flavour for all the dishes.
The Steamed Pork Bun at Din Tai Fung comes by the piece, so we ordered two and split them in four. The filling is a savoury pork meatball and not like the char siu that we’re used to at dim sum.
I actually enjoyed the filling and thought the bun had the perfect crust and texture. We saw six-packs of these buns by the hostess stand that were available for takeout and they seemed quite popular.
Sauteed Baby Bok Choy was a nice way to round out our meal and to add something green and veggie like to all the dumplings we were slurping down. It was the perfect quantity to share amongst the four of us. If you’re not so into bok choy, Din Tai Fung also offers sauteed spinach, green beans and broccoli.
The Pork Rice Bun had a nice meat to rice ratio with a nice sticky texture. I didn’t find it overly salty and it was full of flavour because of it. The rice is steamed in a leaf and has a nutty taste to it with a creamy texture.
The Shrimp & Pork Dumplings are less ‘soupy’ than its pork-only counterpart, but just as tasty. The shrimp and pork compliment each other well and the dumpling dough is a bit chewier. It reminded me of a siu mai but not as intense in flavour.
Cucumber salad drizzled with hot chili oil is a refreshing palette cleanser
Din Tai Fung has two US locations – one in Seattle and two in Los Angeles which are next to each other in Arcadia (a suburb of LA). If you can’t make it out the west coast, there are locations all over Asia and in Australia. It’s definitely worth a visit!