Foodie reviews Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung

March 10, 2023 — by Anjali Pai
Photo by Anjali Pai
Din Tai Fung offers an array of authentic Taiwanese dishes.
I finally set out to see if Din Tai Fung was worth the hype.

Rating: 5/5 Falcons

Since the popular Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung opened a location at our very own Valley Fair Mall in 2016, I have been dying to try out its authentic dishes. Unfortunately, reservations were difficult to come by and I gave up, intending to revive my mission of reserving a table there once the hype died down and reservations became easier to come by. 

Little did I know, years later, the commotion around this restaurant would still be going strong. Reminded of Din Tai Fung after videos of its popular dishes bombarded my TikTok For You Page, I set out to try this place once and for all. 

A couple weeks ago, I went online to make a reservation, only to find the restaurant booked for the next month with the exception of unusual times like 10:30 a.m. on a Monday. 

Instead of waiting, I decided to try my luck and see if I could walk-in. At 2:30 p.m. on a Friday, I walked in and was given a wait time of an hour and a half. As a second semester senior with nothing better to do (other than perhaps getting my driver’s permit, which I’ve been procrastinating on for the past two years), I decided to loiter around the mall and wait for a table to open up. After an hour, I got a notification saying my table is ready.

Our waiter guided me and my family down the sophisticated restaurant decorated with cultural architecture. Once seated and handed a menu, we marked down the items we wanted to order.

 

Iced Lychee Green Tea with Boba ($6.50)

The first item that caught my eye was the Iced Lychee Green Tea with Boba. I was set on ordering the slushie version I had seen on TikTok, but the waiter informed me that they had just discontinued their slushies. Although I was a little bummed, the boba made up for it. The boba was just right: not too sweet nor too chewy and paired beautifully with the refreshing, natural-tasting lychee green tea.

Cucumber Salad ($8)

The first dish I ordered was perhaps one of the restaurant’s most recognizable signature dishes: Cucumber Salad. Hints of savory garlic and the mild tang of chili pepper complimented the refreshing crunch of the chilled cucumbers. I was surprised at how tasty it was despite its simplicity.

Sautéed String Beans with Garlic ($15.50)

After the Cucumber Salad, I ordered the Sautéed String Beans with Garlic. Now, I know what you must be thinking: Two appetizers with only vegetables?! I’m not someone who is particularly fond of my greens, but Din Tai Fung is the only place I can see myself ordering dishes consisting of just vegetables. Its amazing yet simple preparation can make any vegetable-hater have a change of heart. The beans were extremely tender, accompanied with the perfect hints of salt and garlic.

Crab & Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao ($19.50)

Afterwards, I ordered the Crab and Kurobuta Pork Xiao Long Bao, a type of soup dumpling. Ten pieces are provided per order. I am a big fan of crab, but I wasn’t too sure of how well it would pair with pork. The first bite of this dish made my prior reservations disappear. I was surprised at how well the flavors complimented each other; the savory taste of the pork paired nicely with the mellow sweetness of the crab, and the warm broth within the xiao long bao elegantly tied together the flavors of the land and sea. 

Chicken Spicy Wontons ($15.50)

One order of the Chicken Spicy Wontons came with eight pieces. The outer skin of the wonton was soft and thin, and the chicken within was tender and juicy. The wontons were accompanied by their signature house spicy sauce and topped with green onions and garlic. 

The sauce was mildly spicy but really enhanced the flavor of the wontons, and the green onions and garlic added more depth to the dish. I finished off the remainder of the string beans by dipping them in the sauce that came with the wontons, really leveling up the flavor of the vegetables.

Chocolate & Mochi Xiao Long Bao ($10.50)

To finish off the meal, I ordered the Chocolate and Mochi Xiao Long Bao, coming in five per order. The melted chocolate within was rich and decadent, yet not too sweet. The thin outer layer of mochi added the perfectly chewy texture to tie the desert together.

Having been there once, I can understand the hype around Din Tai Fung. Its authentic Taiwanese dishes are both rich yet comforting, and not one dish was subpar. I only wish they had more locations, rather than only seven in all of California, so reserving a table was less of a hassle. Nonetheless, I would say the wait is well worth it if it means you get to try out this remarkable restaurant at least once.

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