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Weekend Din Tai Fung Strategies?

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Taking some out of town friends to Din Tai Fung for lunch on a weekend, and would prefer not to have to wait too too long. Are there any particularly good arrival times or other strategies that folks use and are willing to share to minimize the weekend wait?

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  1. I think it opens at 11 am on weekends. Get there no later than 10:30, bring some reading material, and you'll be in the first seating.

    Of course, if the hot weather continues, you will also need water and a portable fan.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sku

      I get there 15 minutes early. I live one block away so you know that I get my fill regularly. Hey, I just thought of something. I could become a professional "Wait in line person" for bloggers that live far away. I'll get the table and you just walk in. LOL!

    2. The last time I went there, I arrived around 11:30. We waited 45 minutes for a table. In that time, however, we walked over to the bakery across the way, next door to the bakery/restaurant, and into the gift shop next door. The time went by pretty quickly.

      The best strategy is to send someone in advance and then everybody else just joins that person after 30 minutes or so.

      1. Phone in to go order, arrive, pick up, leave (or stop by bakery for goodies).

        7 Replies
        1. re: mc michael

          dont go on the weekend. went there on sunday around 1130 waited an hour, felt like they were throwing the food at us and was out the door 30 minutes later.

          1. re: AGENT FOODIE

            I was there same time on the 4th getting take out. Not bad considering a packed house.

            1. re: mc michael

              Take out is REALLY the best way... the Dumplings really do hold up well...

              As noted, it's just so crowded and then the RUSH you! :P

              --Dommy!

              1. re: Dommy

                the owner really discourages take-out if you can avoid it. we pick them up and eat them in the car if it's too crowded. they may hold up for up to an hour, but then they begin to harden at the top. by golly, if you let them sit a bit at the table, they're already past their prime! one should definitely not take out and hold til the next day. that would be regrettable. IMHO, eating in (the restaurant or car) is the best way to experience the XLB at DTF.

                1. re: revets2

                  Actually I've done it a handful of times and they've all been happy to take my order... they even have special cases for the dumplings, almost like egg cartons... They put them in HOT so the steam allows the entire thing to stay 'moist' for quite a while... and I've actually had them the next day microwaves in that little carton with a wet towel over them... there was a little less 'juice' but overall, still very yummy...

                  I do think eating there ONCE for the experience is probably a good idea... but afterwards, when you aren't feeling like putting up with the crowds or service nonsense, take out to ME is the best option to enjoy those dumplings...

                  --Dommy!

                  1. re: Dommy

                    he has given them to me uncooked to steam at home if i'm taking out. he'll shake his finger, wag his head, and give me the fatherly warning in mandarin if he doesn't think i'm going to eat them right away otherwise. in the chinese community, it does make a big difference to us as i'm sure every culture has it's peculiarities about their native cuisine.

                    1. re: revets2

                      Ah... You see... I am VERY much not Chinese... So he probably automatically thinks that I'm not worth the effort at all... LOL!

                      --Dommy!

        2. They open at 10:30 am on weekends, but they'll start seating at 10:20 am. We arrived at 9:50 am to be 2nd in line last time. I think they have only 3-4 larger round tables (more comfortable and conversation friendly). If we can't arrive by 10am, we just don't go. Our 2nd favorite place is Dumpling 10053 which opens at 11:30 am.

          1. Get there by no later than 9:30 a.m....

            ... and have someone stand in line, while the rest of the group can hang out and walk around the plaza and get some pastries at JJ, buy some Taiwanese sausages at SinBaLa in the adjacent shopping center and maybe even pick up a box of cream puffs at the Beard Papa up the street on Baldwin.

            And I know you said lunch, but dinner is much more civilized crowed-wise.

            [Full Disclosure: never been a fan, always thought DTF was overrated.]

            1. Go at 10:00 a.m., or go to dinner at 5:00 p.m.

              Take out is not that good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: WHills

                B.S. The dumplings are fine on take out. A little time in the mic and voila!

              2. As others have said, get there by 10:00 and get a number. Here is the rundown: http://www.chow.com/topics/50446

                1 Reply
                1. re: ChinoWayne

                  This does deserve a link to the joint...

                  -----
                  Din Tai Fung Restaurant
                  1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                2. One problem with trying to get there early: if you happen to get there at the end of the wave of early risers and *don't* make the first round, you'll be even worse off since you have to wait for entire length it takes for the first people to start leaving. This happened to my party once.

                  I think the main thing is this: if you're looking to get in and out in a jif, you probably shouldn't be going there. Go there, enjoy the wait, and then enjoy the food. You might happen to get lucky if you strike it with good timing, but it's hard to count on doing that since if you come before it opens you still have to wait in line about as long as it would take if it was already open.

                  One important tip, though: be sure to *order* when you are in line, so that your food comes immediately once you sit down.

                  1. I am a neighbor of the owner and has been able to get in without the wait. But I have not been there for the last 18 months after going there 5-6 times over the previous year.

                    It's not because I feel too guilty (just a little) about cutting in line, it's that I must say the US version of Din Tai Fung just is not as good as the original one in Taiwan which I finally went to during a trip back to Taiwan. And I tried to go every time I am in Taiwan.

                    You can tell the there is more efforts and refinement (more training) going into making the food; and ingridients are also better (especially the meat - coming from a different breed of hog not available here). It's hard to quantify, but you can tell the differences.

                    It's still better than the other dumpling houses here in LA, it's just that there are other great foods in LA I can enjoy. Maybe I will break down and go back if I cannot go back to Taiwan for a long period of time.

                    1. i, too, really like the other locations of DTF in asia, however, the kitchen in arcadia is simply not designed to output like some of the others. i heard a rumor that they will be remodeling, but don't know how factual this is.

                      david, our routine at DTF if we must eat on a weekend, is:
                      - find parking
                      - get DTF number
                      - go next door to PHOENIX FOOD BOUTIQUE and order crispy chicken wings
                      - eat chicken wings on bench outside
                      - go to gift shop to buy japanese gum and highlighters
                      - check in with hostess
                      - go to mall next door and get take-out order of taiwanese sausages and "chinese tamales"
                      - grab supplies from ASIA MARKET
                      - eat at DTF
                      - back to PHOENIX FOOD BOUTIQUE for dessert

                      just did this with friends and they thought it was a fun progressive food tour. hardly felt like waiting at all!