Oh dumplings, I am quite the fan shall we say. I could pop those little babies in my mouth until I can no longer move. I’ve had a hankering for some Shanghai soup dumplings for weeks now, so since we were staying in Times Square over the holiday I thought it would be rather prudent to check out Din Tai Fung. I’m a huge fan of Crystal Jade having visited a couple of their branches but I had yet to try Din Tai Fung so I had high hopes ahead.
After a good gander of the menu, we ordered 10 of the Pork Xiaolongbao (9,900) to start us off. They arrived promptly and we dived in. I pierced open the pocket of goodness and let the soup spill out into my spoon. However my high hopes turned to ash as I supped up the soup. It just really lacked in flavour, not a patch on the meaty gravy it should be. If anything it was just fatty and greasy. I bit into the middle to find the ball of pork completely tasteless, not even seasoned. It was very disappointing. Dipping it into the vinegar and ginger made it better but not really the standard it should be.
The Beijing Pork (16,000) showed up and immediately bucked up our spirits. It was a triumph. A light yet crispy batter, with the sweet yet slightly sour sauce to pour on top. With the preserved lemons to give it extra oomph it was a knock out. We got the small portion which was ample for two people. This is certainly where I plan to head next time I have a craving. Sweet and sour is my favourite dish and this one knocked the socks off most other places that serve it like Ho Lee Chow. The only one who can compare is the Dongdaemun Mutton Refectory, but even still I’d give Din Tai Fung the edge on this one.
They were out of the fried noodles we wanted to order so we opted for the Fried Rice with Eggs, Shrimp and Pork (12,000). Another stellar dish. I just don’t know how they get that delicious Chinese fried rice taste. Home efforts are always in vain and can never match up to the real deal. One day I will find the secret.
The steamed Charsiu Pork Buns (6,500) arrived and were yet another dismal offering. The filling was sparse and again tasteless not even a hint of the char sui sauce which makes them so good, I’ve had better ones from the 7-11. Without the meat we were just eating flavourless steamed bread. Though it’s no surprise they didn’t live up to my expectations after eating the Michelin starred ones from Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong. Nothing can compare to those bad boys.
On the whole Din Tai Fung was rather hit and miss, the dumplings which they are so famous for were such an anticlimax. However the fried rice and sweet and sour pork we ordered as an afterthought were exceptional. Similar to the Chinese style we all know and love I will definitely be going back for my next craving, but next time I want dumplings ill stick with Crystal Jade.
Din Tai Fung is located 4th Floor, Time Square, Yeongdeongpo, Seoul. To get there take a train to Yeongdeongpo station (line 1). Exit the station and follow the signs to Time Square. Din Tai Fung is located on the 4th floor.