October 3, 2009

Umamiventure #19: Din Tai Fung (TYO)

by yoko

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung
was the site of the first Umamiventure outside the United States. On September 27, for Sunday lunch, six hungry Tokyoites and a visitor piled into the busy Din Tai Fung branch on the 12th floor of Shinjuku’s Takashimaya Square.

Din Tai Fung

I arrived there first with Anders and was greeted with a line of about 20 people. The line moved super fast and the servers were really attentive in keeping us up to date as to the progress of the line. The turnover was really quick with the main clientele being middle-aged Japanese women who just had to have their Sunday morning dumpling fix. Our party arrived staggered, but the servers still allowed us to sit with our incomplete party – this was very courteous of them since the restaurant was so packed.

Din Tai Fung

The interior of the restaurant was large and airy. With bamboo stalks shooting out from the low dividers within the restaurant and an ample terrace dining area, it was hard for me to believe that we were in the middle of cramped, smoggy Shinjuku. Once we sat down, the service was speedy, pleasant and no-nonsense.

Din Tai Fung interior

We immediately ordered the pork dumplings, daikon mochi, stir-fried greens, scallop dumplings, shrimp shumai, chimaki, etc. The food came promptly.

Everyone seemed to be a XLB virgin and it was a bonding experience to pop our XLB cherry at the same meal. What I really enjoyed most about the dumplings was the dipping sauce with the fresh grated ginger. The more I eat, I realize that the condiments are key – and when they are fresh, it makes all the difference.

Din Tai Fung

The dumplings themselves were phenomenal – not scalding hot as I suspected. The dumpling wrap was also of perfect thickness, providing a perfect ratio to the filling.

I am always a little skeptical of chain restaurants that dominate more than two continents. So I didn’t go into Din Tai Fung with high expectations. But combined with the service and the food, it is obvious that Din Tai Fung is in the restaurant business for a reason – they are really good at it. In a store that you expect to wait over an hour – I didn’t see any irate customers or restless staff personnel.

Din Tai Fung seems to have the reputation of being world-reknowned. I will second that claim by saying that its been Tokyo Umamiventure-reknowned. Our group consisted of a Dane, Thai, Brazilian, Icelander, Japanese and three Americans – we all approved. We ordered about four rounds of grub over the approximately 90 minute period.

Din Tai Fung

Here’s the breakdown of what we ordered:

4 orders pork dumplings
Din Tai Fung Pork Dumplings

1 order shrimp shumai
Din Tai Fung Shrimp Shumai

3 orders chimaki
Din Tai Fung Chimaki

2 orders scallop dumplings
Din Tai Fung

1 order spicy shrimp wonton
Din Tai Fung Spicy Shrimp Wonton

1 order sticky rice shumai
Din Tai Fung Sticky rice shumai

1 order daikon mochi
Din Tai Fung

2 orders stir-fried greens
Din Tai Fung Greens

1 order Taiwanese seaweed salad
Din Tai Fung Taiwanese salad

The grand finale was two orders of Din Tai Fung’s dessert mango dumplings. The dripping yellow insides had a subtle sweetness that was a great idea wrapped up in the dumpling wrap. These disappeared in less than 5 minutes.

Din Tai FungDin Tai Fung Mango Dumplings

The total was ¥15,141, which was split seven ways for a really reasonable tab of ¥2163 per person.

Din Tai Fung receipt

The TYO Umamiventure Crew:

Tokyo Umamiventure Crew

DIN TAI FUNG
5-24-2 Sendagaya
(10F, Shinjuku Takashimaya Department Store)
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03.5361.1381

8 Comments

  • kayoko
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    I did NOT know about these mango dumplings. I WANT!!!

    The LA Umamiventure LA Edition should be up on Monday!!!

    xxk

  • Anders
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 4:31 am

    Great post + idea, Yoko. I had a blast and everyone seemed to become instant slaves of the Dumpling King. And the space where you eat means a lot too.

  • yoko
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Yeah, it was hard rounding up all of them.

  • wen
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 10:33 am

    ah the tokyo interior looks just like the interior in the original taiwanese ding tai fong :)

  • Bryan Sanders
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I miss Tokyo.

  • Anders
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Bryan: me too. Thanks for taking me around the different Music shops to find the Pink Box-book after this Umamiventure. The book is right here in my livingroom in Copenhagen now.

    I take it out when I have guests to scare them, ha!

  • Bryan Sanders
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Yeah that cook is really far out. Shinjuku has so many fun and creepy sections. I miss it all. São Paulo, come to find out has all sorts of similar areas with streetwalkers of all sizes and shapes. A friend and I are hoping to do a project about the topic.

  • Bryan Sanders
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I wrote cook but definitely meant book. Apparently I need a meal.

One Trackback

  • By 2 Days in LA « Umami Mart on August 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    [...] dinner, we headed over to Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. Remember our double threat Tokyo-LA [...]

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