Foodies in Melbourne have rejoiced recently when world-renowned Taiwanese dumpling chain Din Tai Fung opened its doors. The restaurant is famed for their dumplings, specifically Xiao Long Bao (their ‘soup’ dumplings) which has been often named as ‘best dumplings in the world’.
The Melbourne branch is located in the new Emporium building in the CBD. The restaurant practically spans the entire level 4 of the building. It has a very efficient style to it, with the many staff all working seamlessly to make the ordering and eating experience very comfortable and simple. Din Tai Fung is fascinating to visit not only to eat here, but to also witness the seemingly small army of chefs all making dumplings.
I ordered an array of dishes for a meal with my fella. These are some of the meals we enjoyed.
Crispy Fried Chicken with chilli.
This dish reminded me of popcorn chicken. These small morsels of chicken are coated in a thin fragrant coating and then deep-fried to give them a spicy and crispy texture. The addition of the hot chilli, in both the coating and topping the dish gave it a kick of strong flavour. The thinness of the battered coating and the strength of the chilli meant that luckily the dish wasn’t overly fatty or greasy.
Taiwanese Style Diced Black Pepper Steak.
Again another very enjoyable dish. Full on flavour and with great texture. The steak was cut up in bite-sized pieces, marinated and then pan cooked giving it a delicious texture. The meat was coated in a rich peppery sauce that resulted in a beautiful shine to the dish. Crunch and a refreshing nature came from the addition chunks of onion, green and red peppers to the dish.
Filled with the same filling as the Xiao Long Bao this large bun is a popular choice. Truthfully I’ve never been a huge fan of pork buns. I think its something to do with the floury bun texture. Unfortunately it was still the case at Din Tai Fung. The warm delicious pork filling was generously spooned into the bun and then steamed to perfection. The dough was light and fluffy. I can understand why this dish is popular but it just isn’t my favourite way to eat pork.
Fried rice with shredded pork
A simple fried rice dish with lovely layers of creamy egg and flavourful pork slivers. It was the perfect base to compliment the other dishes we ordered.
The main event- the Pork Xiao Long Bao.
Can I even begin to do this dish justice? I first heard of these dumplings after reading a post by Mark Wiens over at migrationology.com who was sampling them in Taipai and was describing the seemingly perfect dumpling. I knew I had to try some!
The dumplings come with a sauce dish filled with thinly sliced ginger, to which you add a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar to your taste. There is the recommended way to eat these dumplings, which I generally followed.
Step one- Mix the sauce and ginger together.
Step two- carefully dip the dumpling into the dipping sauce
Step three- place the dumpling onto your Asian soupspoon. (I cheekily add a little more dipping sauce on top for extra flavour)
Step four- using chopsticks carefully prick a hole in the side of the dumpling allowing all the juices to flow out and be caught in the spoon.
Step five- Devour.
The reason you have to prick the dumplings is to prevent getting your mouth burnt, which can happen when the dumplings are super fresh and all the soupy contents and steam are contained within the wrapper. I learnt this the hard way!
The dumplings are delicious. The pork filling is fragrant and perfectly steamed. The soup is rich and is perfectly complimented with the ginger dipping sauce. The wrapper so thin it almost instantly dissolves. These dumplings literally melt in your mouth!
Dumpling lovers rejoice! Din Tai Fung is here! I’ll be a regular patron!