Taiwanese Dumplings at Din Tai Fung: Miniature Bundles of Flavor

When food is renowned as much for its flavor and appearance as it is for being a true work of art, you know you’ve attained perfection in the culinary world. Din Tai Fung, a local restaurant in Taiwan has been making headlines with their award-winning dumplings since the 1980s.

The restaurant was rated by The New York Times in 1993 as one of the top ten gourmet restaurants in the world. Thousands of visitors come to Taipei each year to eat at Din Tai Fung. Today, the restaurant is listed as one of the top ten things to see in Taiwan.

The menu isn’t extensive. Most visitors come for the paper-thin xiao long bao, (steamed dumplings) which are stuffed with vegetables and meat or mashed red beans. The dumplings are served with finely sliced pieces of ginger and a soy-based dipping sauce. In addition to the dumplings, Din Tai Fung is also known for its wild chicken and herb soup, and its appetizers, such as the stir-fried greens below. My husband and I adore their pickled cucumbers.

Din Tai Fung

The dumplings and buns are prepared to exact specifications. The outer-skin of each dumpling is thin as tissue, weighing in at just 5 grams. Then each skin is stuffed with around fifteen grams of meat filling, and sealed along the top with exactly 18 folds. The end result is sheer art. The tiny bundles bulging with a delightful combination of flavorful soup broth and meat simply bursts with flavor.

Visitors can watch the entire process from behind glass walls in each restaurant. On any given day, one restaurant can sell over 1,000 steamers of meat-filled dumplings. This equals over 15 million steamed dumplings each year!

Din Tai Fung got its start in the late 80s, when the owner and founder, Yang Bingyi – who moved to Taiwan from Shanxi, China in the early 50s – was laid off from a cooking oil retailer called Heng Tai Fung. Yang and his wife founded their own cooking oil company, but when that failed as well, the couple resorted to making and selling steamed buns in order to make ends meet. Their steamed buns eventually became so popular that they decided to open a restaurant. Din Tai Fung was born, and today, there are several restaurants throughout Taiwan.

Over the past thirty years, the restaurant has popped up in cites all over the world, including the US, Japan, China, Singapore, Korea, and Hong Kong. There are over 42 locations in nine countries worldwide.

Din Tai Fung is a great example of Taiwanese cuisine, offering a little something for everyone at very reasonable prices. Just remember to arrive early. There is always a line-up outside any of these restaurants in Taipei and guests have been known to wait for up to an hour just to get a table!

If you liked this installment of Wanderfood Wednesdays, be sure to visit some of the other world food and travel blogs that participate in this weekly meme. Don’t forget to stop by next week for another delicious write-up!

Din Tai Fung

Post Author: Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian expat who has been living abroad in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. My husband and I have owned our own business in Taiwan since 2012. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. Follow Carrie on on Twitter @globetrotteri or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carriekellenberger/.

16 thoughts on “Taiwanese Dumplings at Din Tai Fung: Miniature Bundles of Flavor

    Adam @ Sit Down Disco

    (June 16, 2010 - 6:24 am)

    I absolutely LOVE Din Tai Fung. I also love the cucumbers, the won ton soup with that oily chilli stuff in it and of course the XLB. My fave of all is the small dish that has ribbons of tofu, seaweed and is dressed in some umami sesame dressing. So delish.

    Crystal Jade is supposed to compete, but I don’t really rate it!
    .-= Adam @ Sit Down Disco´s last blog ..Myanmar (Burma): The Capital =-.

      Carrie

      (June 16, 2010 - 1:46 pm)

      Hi Adam,

      The feeling is mutual. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in Taipei, and that’s saying a lot. The food here is goooood. 🙂

    Elizabeth

    (June 16, 2010 - 12:46 pm)

    This is one of our favorite restaurants in Beijing! I also love their Dan dan mian (Sichuan noodles). Really delicious.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Dragon Boat Dumplings =-.

      Carrie

      (June 16, 2010 - 1:47 pm)

      Elizabeth,

      Thanks for stopping by! Sounds like Din Tai Fung is popular pretty much everywhere. I haven’t read a bad review yet.

    Myscha Theriault

    (June 16, 2010 - 12:57 pm)

    Those look amazing, Carrie. Definite “yummo” material.
    .-= Myscha Theriault´s last blog ..Restaurant Review – P.F. Chang’s China Bistro =-.

    Stephanie (FoodFreeway)

    (June 16, 2010 - 3:35 pm)

    Wow, those dumplings look delicious! Yummm!!! 🙂
    .-= Stephanie (FoodFreeway)´s last blog ..Recipe of the Week: Jamaican Okra with Shrimp and Rice =-.

    Krista

    (June 16, 2010 - 6:05 pm)

    Oh my, those dumplings are so delicate and beautiful, and the buns look wonderfully tender and savory. 🙂
    .-= Krista´s last blog ..A Canadian Ramble and Cranberry Orange Scones =-.

    jessiev

    (June 16, 2010 - 8:02 pm)

    yum – we LOVE dumplings. those photos are incredible!
    .-= jessiev´s last blog ..Book Review: Transformations at the Edge of the World =-.

    Nancie (Ladyexpat)

    (June 16, 2010 - 11:44 pm)

    I love Taiwanese dumplings, and you are the second person to recommend this restaurant recently. I found their location in Seoul, but haven’t gotten there yet. Maybe I need to do a little trip up there this weekend. I NEED dumplings!! 🙂
    Great photos!
    .-= Nancie (Ladyexpat)´s last blog ..Wanderfood Wednesday — Comfort Food in Seoul =-.

      Carrie

      (June 24, 2010 - 9:20 am)

      Thanks everyone.

      @Nancie,
      You’ll have to let me know what the Din Tai Fung location is like in Seoul. I’m curious!

    Gourmantic

    (June 17, 2010 - 1:07 am)

    I’ve never had Taiwanese food and I’m now tempted to try it when I get the opportunity. I guess we look at dumplings and eat them but not think of them as a work of art. For each to be weighing 5 grams, that’s quite a technique!
    .-= Gourmantic´s last blog ..Vivid Sydney: Macquarie Visions =-.

    GotPassport

    (June 17, 2010 - 1:25 am)

    All three items look very familiar to me and LOVE them all! 🙂 I’ll have to ask my husband and his family if we’ve been there.. they’ve taken us to all kinds of great restaurants over there so not sure which ones we’ve been to. I’ll mention it and see what happens… great share Carrie. Love the pictures.
    .-= GotPassport´s last blog ..Blueberry Flax Smoothie/Popsicles =-.

    Wanderluster

    (June 17, 2010 - 3:35 pm)

    Those dumplings look SO good!
    .-= Wanderluster´s last blog ..WanderGear Wednesday: Frommer’s Travel Gear =-.

    Nellie

    (June 18, 2010 - 8:24 am)

    Your pictures made me drool all over my desk! I used to dash to Singapore’s ding tai fung branches to curb my craving for xiao long bao. They make the best ones there, woo you made me miss home just a tad bit! Thanks Carrie – oh and such a beautiful new design for your website – been reading ur pieces on Google Reader and didnt realise you’ve given it an overhaul!

      Carrie

      (June 24, 2010 - 9:21 am)

      Thanks Nellie. I’m glad you like the new design!

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