Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Taiwan: Dintaifung

So we arrived in Taipei and went into an eating overload with our host (GI) Joe Wang from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  After traveling for 24 hours, we were starving.
Kevin and Me
We started at Dintaifung Restaurant inside Taipei 101.  Kevin, the senior specialist, greeted us with a smile.   Din Tai Fung transformed into a steamed dumplings restaurant in 1974 and was rated amongst the top 10 restaurants in the world by the New York Times.  This popular tourist destination now has branches in Japan, US, China, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand.  
We were eager to get our first taste of the famous Xiaolongbao (pronounced shau-long-bao).  We watched the well oiled machine of chefs work in an efficient assembly line to roll out the dough, stuff with the filling, and then carefully and quickly make 18 folds into the little dumpling and place it into the bamboo steaming basket for cooking.  

They rolled out the red carpet as they brought out almost every dish on the menu for tasting.  We tried all of the Xiolongbao (crab roe, chicken, shrimp, truffle, pork and squash.)  

All of the dumplings were quite tasty on their own even without being dipped in the soy, vinegar and ginger sauce.  My favorites were the squash because of its delicate flavor and the truffle because who doesn't love truffles.  There's an art to eating these small treats.  First dip them in the soy, vinegar and ginger sauce.  Then put them in a spoon and poke a hole to release the broth, then put a couple pieces of fresh ginger on top and then down the hatch.  

I was already getting full from the dumplings, but we continued to gorge ourselves with the Din Tai Fung special with seaweed, green bean noodles, soy sprouts and bean curd, hot steamed chicken soup, pork buns, steamed shrimp and pork Shaiomai, steamed vegetable and ground pork dumplings, fried pork chops and boiled bamboo with mayonnaise.  
 The best dish was the Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons because of the heat and loads of flavor.  

We also tried the red bean bao for desserts.  Not bad, but I wasn't a huge fan of the texture.  
We washed it all down with Taiwanese beer (currently not exported to the US).  Dintaifung sells over 100,000 Xiaolongbao per day.  

The line runs out the door with tons of Chinese and Japanese tourists.  Bellies full, we took a stroll inside the luxury mall at Taipei 101 and headed over the the Taipei International Food Show.

Photos by Kristen Finn

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