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din tai fung - MUST ORDER ITEMS?

Hi,

Very interesting to read all the Din Tai Fung posts, and I'm excited to go this weekend. Can the Din Tai Fung affecionados list their "must order items" so we know what to order. I have a habit of going to good restaurants and ordering all the wrong things! Thanks!

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  1. You'll probably get a lot of responses for the various dumplings so I'll tell you about my favorite non-dumpling dish. On the menu it's simply called "Appetizer." It's a really yummy salad made with slivered vegetables and tofu and the dressing has a little kick to it.

    1. I go there for the pork/crab dumplings, every time. Just about melts in your mouth. Dumplings are what they specialize in, so primarily stick with those.

      1. "appetizer" rocks. we also like the green beans. we usually stick to the juicy pork and juicy pork with crab dumplings, but we're usually only two, so we don't order that much.

        don't forget to grab dessert next door after at phoenix. we like the forbidden black rice with young coconut and the deep fried mochi.

        1. 1 Appetizer
          2 Juicy pork dumplings
          1 Shanghai rice cake
          1 vegetable (used to go for spinach; substitute broc or beans)

          If there's any room left,

          1 Fish dumpling

          mix soy, vinegar, and chile -- and ask for extra ginger - Enjoy!!

          1. my friends (from shanghai) also order the rice cake.

            i sometimes order the fish dumpling and then am sorry i did. for my taste, it lacks flavor IMHO.

            1. Juicy pork dumplings, Shanghai rice cake, sesame noodles, and spicy beef noodle soup.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Food_Fiend

                Oops...meant to say peanut noodles!

              2. Our recommendation is for their soup dumplings. They don't have them during the week, and they run out quickly on weekends. They are mini versions of the juicy pork dumplings; you will pop them and not even know that you just finished an entire order!

                I believe they always come with a bowl of soup; their soup is quite delicious, but I like their soup dumplings not mixed in.

                1. I love their chicken dumplings! I also love their green beans... so good... :)

                  I wasn't to impressed by their chicken soup though... A bit bland. Lacked soul...

                  --Dommy!

                  1. Chicken soup (and for Dommy ... you got add pepper to it and a splash of black vinegar!).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Thanks! I got it to go and they didn't include any of that in the condiments package... know I know how to doctor it myself! :)

                      --Dommy!

                      1. re: Dommy

                        I recommend the same thing for sharkfin soup ... and, again, you've gotta ask the wait staff for both pepper and vinegar most times.

                    2. Xiao lung bao (of any variety... I like the pork/crab combination, but the pork ones have more soup)
                      Fried rice (pork chop fried rice or shrimp in particular)
                      Shanghai rice cakes
                      "Appetizer" (there's something strangely addicting about this dish)
                      Steamed pork buns (I usually get an order to go... they microwave pretty well if you wrap them in a moist paper towel)

                      The other stuff on the menu (including the "regular" dumplings) is good, but they make the juicy dumplings so well it's a shame not to get them.

                      Any of the above are good choices. Have fun (and go a little early if you can... there can be a significant wait if you go at standard hours).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Devourer

                        The "appetizer" is getting a lot of ink here, and I agree, it's good. But I can't help but look at it as kind of a beer snack. I think it would be so good with beer, in fact, that it almost constitutes torture for a place with no liquor license to even put it on the menu.

                      2. Definitely a yes for their pork & crab xiaolongbao (juicy/soup dumplings)--and all their other dumplings should be pretty decent (except the shu mais! What a disgrace!!)

                        Except for the appetizers, their other non-dumpling dishes are OK but nothing to write home about.

                        1. Non-pork/shrimp dumplings we enjoy:

                          The FISH dumplings.

                          The VEGETARIAN dumplings - fresh greens and tofu inside.

                          The sweet RED BEAN dumplings.

                          The BA-BAO rice (8 flavor sweet rice).

                          The sweet and sour soup.

                          The chicken soup, with or without noodle -- the chicken is smaller than expected because it is organic, as in non-hormone. The soup is hot, and you can request the waitress to help you put the noodles and chicken w/ soup together in the large bowl.

                          The tofu and vegetables dish.

                          The green beans.

                          Enjoy!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chica

                            Oh my, oh my -- the RED BEAN DUMPLINGS are so good!
                            I know you might cringe, but I love to dip them in the vinegar/soy/chili/ginger mix...something about the sweet and astringent-spicy contrast...yum!

                          2. Another "MUST" is on the weekends get there 15 min.-30 min. before they open for lunch or dinner (open 11:00am lunch 5:00pm dinner). Otherwise you'll have at least a half hour wait once the restaurant fills up with the first seating. Very regimented the seating, ordering and service. They'll give you a little clipboard and menu and you can fill it out while you're waiting for them to open or be seated.

                            1. My suggestion:

                              1. pork and crab dumplings!!!
                              2. dessert: steamed red bean cakes!!! (yummy!!)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bbj

                                bbj - Is the steamed red bean cake the gelatinous red bean dessert square? If not, then I think all of their red bean items are "yummy:" their red bean dumplings, their red bean steamed cake, and the red bean jello square. Or, you can roll on down after dumplings to Phoenix Cafe and get one of their tapioca drinks for dessert or one of their custards in a cup!

                                1. re: kotter

                                  In Arcadia on Baldwin Avenue about 3 blocks south of Huntington Drive on the east side of the street in a strip mall (Wells Fargo Bank on the corner of the mall)

                                  1. re: kotter

                                    I have their card handy:

                                    Din Tai Fung
                                    1108 South Baldwin Avenue
                                    Arcadia #626.574-7068

                                  2. I have read some comments on this board about the service being somewhat calculated and perhaps rushed. We have been here numerous times and found everyone to be extremely friendly and helpful. Even the manager has gone out of his way to bring us extra ginger! The servers have come by just to check up on us -- perhaps we're doing something odd, like dipping our red bean dumplings in vinegar. However, I have not even the slightest reservation about recommending this dumpling house, and with Phoenix Cafe just a couple of door down and a bakery across the parking lot, I find plenty to do while I'm waiting!

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: liu

                                      You can also browse the foreign magazines, cookbooks, and comics, and nifty Chinese gifts in the bookstore next door. But, do NOT eat there!

                                      1. re: chica

                                        Yes, or you can walk around the corner of the adjacent shopping center and get a konjac drink! There is also a market in that same center, but I don't remember it well. chica, is it good?

                                        1. re: liu

                                          Are you referring to the Arcadia Supermarket? I think that's what it's called.

                                          Their fruits are very cheap and usually found in large bins. However, I've been disappointed numerous times with the quality of the fruit. Either too ripe, too spoiled, too bruised, too worm-ridden, et. al. That said, you can find one or two good ones. I recall pretty sweet persimmons once.

                                          They also sell really inexpensive plastics, rice cookers, and other similar things in the front of the store. You can, of course, always buy the asian crackers, etc. there, too.

                                          I love bin bin konjac. We usually order hot or cold soups, or the mango, red bean, or green bean ice cream with mango or beans, and konjac.

                                          Sin Ba La has, imho, the best shaved ice in town. You get a lot for what you pay, and the ice is the very Hawaiian shaved-ice-like texture.

                                          There's also a Sophisca candy store across the plaza. I'm friends with the owner's daughter. I think I saw the first Sophisca when I went to Taiwan. Anyways, the candies are like toys -- not good, but pretty to look at or gift a girl! They do, though, have some interesting herbal candies.

                                          1. re: chica

                                            chica - Bingo! "...Hawaiian shave-ice..." at Sin Ba La. Is this place near Bin Bin Konjac? I would love to try their shave-ice with your recommendation; it is my preferred vice! Also, thanks for all the details about Arcadia Supermarket (we have been inside but I don't remember buying anything) and the candy store. Now, I really don't mind waiting for dumplings!

                                            1. re: liu

                                              Sin Ba La is right next door to Bin Bin Konjac. :)

                                              1. re: chica

                                                I thank you, chica, for this find -- I am there!

                                    2. Just went there myself yesterday for the first time. My faves were:

                                      Pork Chop fried rice (great flavor)
                                      Shanghai Rice Cake (ate the whole thing!)
                                      Shrimp Dumpling Soup (nice clear broth, dumplings were perfect)
                                      Juicy Crab & Pork Dumplings (nice change, great texture and explodes in your mouth)

                                      Will definitely go back for this great find! Well worth the trip and wait!

                                      1. the little soup dumpling (only available on the weekends) are personally my favorite. However they only make a limited amount, so you have to get there as soon as they open because they run out very quickly.

                                        steamed chicken soup with noodles (perfect texture)

                                        1. don't quite understand the comments of "they run out very quickly". we are talking about the xiao long bao, yes?

                                          arrive a bit before 9pm on a Sunday nite (w/ a completely packed house + lines out the door) and my order of burning pork/crab XLB (the only version worth eating, as it is completely without the foul seafood odor often found even in the best versions in NYC - think Joe's, NGB, etc.) was served up in less than 15 minutes.

                                          re: shaved ice
                                          i still feel nothing is close to the various messy renditions out of shau mays spread across valley blvd.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: TonyC

                                            on weekends they serve what I can best describe as a mini-xiaolongbao soup (from what I can tell, I've never had it either and the one time I tried to go on weekends they ran out) which is supposedly very yummy--and apparently runs out fast on weekend mornings.

                                            But yea, their regular xiaolongbaos are usually available all day long.

                                            1. re: AquaW

                                              Specifically, it is the soup dumplings (they are mini juicy pork dumplings that you can just pop into your mouth!). They come with a small order of soup, always, but I don't eat them with the soup. They do run out of these quickly on Saturday mornings. They're fun and delicious because you get the dumpling and juice in one small bite.

                                              1. re: liu

                                                I've only had the mini dumplings once, but they were "better" than the full-sized ones (maybe just because they were smaller and more pleasing to the eye?) for some reason. Got them for breakfast on a Saturday when I went right when it opened. Every other time they have been out.

                                                I think the service at DTF is good for the amount of traffic they see. The servers are friendly and helpful and the food comes out of their kitchen quickly. I've never felt that I was being rushed out the door, but I do try to eat as quickly as I can because I know what it feels like standing outside and watching other people scarf down xiao lung bao!

                                                Sometimes they're bad about bringing water, though, particularly if you are Asian. I've seen this before... Asian people sitting at the table with Caucasian people and the Caucasian people all get water even though both had requested it. Minor thing and they do give you tea, but it's nice to have a glass of water to cool down your mouth. I guess they're used to the Asians preferring the hot tea.

                                          2. I vote too for the melt-in-your-mouth pork/crab dumplings, my favorite. I also love the broccoli--cooked perfectly, and so flavorful. I love rice cakes of any variety, but do find the dish here rather oily. A side note-I always mix equal portions of the black vinegar/soy sauce/hot chili on my plate to dip--yummy!