Restaurant Review: the Original Din Tai Fung, Taipei

Taipei is known as a food lover’s paradise and it’s no secret how much the locals love their food. During the 6 months I lived in Taipei, I tried to learn as much as possible about the local food and try different restaurants, cafes and tea houses.

Undoubtedly, the famous Din Tai Fung was on my list. A food lover can’t simply leave Taipei without visiting this world famous Taiwanese restaurant branch.

I visited the original Din Tai Fung on Xinyi Road. Taipei has eight Din Tai Fungs in total, but I was very determined to visit the original one. Having also visited Din Tai Fung’s branch in Hong Kong, the visit to where it all began was a long-awaited one. My visit took place in the middle of the week, on a Tuesday afternoon. To my big surprise, there was hardly any queue and we were guided to our table after a short 10 minute wait. Very often, visitors willing to eat at Din Tai Fung should be prepared for approximately 30-60 minute wait or more. No wonder though, Din Tai Fung’s good quality food and Michelin Stars keep people coming back time after another.

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To many it might come as a surprise that Din Tai Fung didn’t actually start as a restaurant. Instead, Din Tai Fung’s story is a cooking oil retailer turned to a world famous restaurant kind of story. Around 1980 owner Yaiy Bingyi realised that the market for cooking oil wasn’t profitable anymore and began making dumplings at his oil producing facilities for supplemental income. His xiaolongbao suddenly became extremely popular among the local population and the rest is now history.

MY EXPERIENCE

On arrival, we were greeted by friendly and multilingual staff. While waiting for a vacant table, the door staff gave us the menu to make us familiar with the food choices and drinks. The 10-minute wait flew by when the happy staff introduced us to the menu and chatted away nicely. Our table was ready quickly and we made our way to the dining hall on the 2nd floor. I was pleased to notice that our table was waiting for us in a quiet corner and although there were other people, the restaurant didn’t feel too crowded.

In general, the dining area was a nice surprise. It was decorated in neutral colours, giving the place a modern and a very spacious touch. Being a Michelin-star restaurant, the atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed without a stuck-up feeling. Perfect.

How about the most important thing, the food? Well, there is no other way than to describe it than delicious. Just because the food at Din Tai Fung it is delicious. As simply as that is.

In the true Taiwan style, I ordered a plenty of food to share with my friends, including Xiaolongbao, watered spinach and other cold appetisers, wontons, noodle soups and baozi. All the local delicacies you must try while in Taiwan.

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Din Tai Fung’s most famous dish is undoubtedly the Michelin-starred xiaolongbao and if you ask me, no one should leave the restaurant without trying at least one. They come with a wide variety of fillings, although the original pork filling is certainly worth trying. If you are looking something a bit out of ordinary, perhaps order a plate of truffle xiaolongbaos?

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People often tend to think Michelin-star restaurants are out of their price range. The good news is that at Din Tai Fung, you can eat delicious, good quality food with very little money. Good quality food together with reasonable prices make Din Tai Fung a must-visit restaurant for any food enthusiast. Our final bill was 1500 NTD (approximately 40 euros), including meals and drinks three people. This stuns me every time. In Europe, it’s reasonable to assume to pay the same amount of money for one person’s dinner in a restaurant that lacks the famous Michelin star.

There is, however, something to bear in mind. Even though the locals love their Michelin starred Din Tai Fung, so do the tourists. You often see big tourist groups queuing outside, waiting for their turn to enjoy the world famous food. Can’t blame them, but the presence of tourists naturally decreases Din Tai Fung’s local atmosphere. If you are looking for a truly local dining experience in Taipei, I would recommend you to head elsewhere. Don’t worry, though, Taipei is a paradise for any food lover and you won’t have difficulties finding a restaurant of your taste. See the following links for more info:

A hungry girl’s guide to Taipei

Sugared & Spiced

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