No visit to Taiwan is complete without a stop at DinTaiFung Dumpling House, the restaurant and now chain which fuelled the world’s obsession with the exquisite fillings wrapped in delicate, wafer-thin skins that we call dumplings.
For a company that started out selling cooking oil, DinTaiFung has come a long way. Ranked No. 1 in US-based food web site, The Daily Meal’s ‘101 Best Restaurants in Asia’ list and with a Michelin star (2010) to its credit, DinTaiFung offers a true taste of Taiwan. These accolades have been earned through their high food standards, insistence on hygiene, commitment to customer relations, and did I mention the exceptional food?
Their strict hygiene rules meant our group of journalists had to ‘suit up’ for a backroom tour of the dumpling making process. This is the sort of place where the toilets are cleaned after every visit and the cleaners use duct tape to clean the carpet.
I’ve never seen hands move so quickly and the skilled dumpling makers turn out a prodigious number of dumplings every hour. While we were able to stand amongst the makers, anyone can watch the process through large glass windows which enclose the dumpling making area. And it’s just as well that they can churn out the dumplings fast because the tables can turn over 19 times in an afternoon.
Here's what we tried. I am still thinking of the hot and sour soup, and the dumplings of course.
There are several DinTaiFung restaurants in Taipei but we were visiting in the basement of Taipei 101, a store that was also visited by Tom Cruise just the week before. He had a XiaLongBao instruction lesson from DinTaiFung Chairman Yang. I sat on the same chair as Tom but I didn’t feel like leaping in the air. That might have meant I missed out on some of the wonderful array of dishes that started to appear on our table.
In the Taiwan stores there is an emphasis on excellent ingredients and the restaurant has contracts with farmers to ensure their organic black pork is top quality.
DinTaiFung has branches in Japan, United States, South Korea, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand.
Best tip: Book because it’s very busy but you might still have to wait.
Bottom line: This is a ‘must visit’ destination for Japanese tourists to try the most perfect dumplings in the world and who wants to argue with the Japanese – not me!
Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled to Taiwan as a guest of Scoot Airlines and Taiwan Tourism