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Din Tai Fung: Opening date?

Anyone know when Din Tai Fung is opening in Bellevue's Lincoln Center. All my sources only say "Fall, 2010".

Relatively surprised that a search didn't already pick up this question given the number of xaio long bao fanatics out there...

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  1. I went by yesterday, they are not close to being finished, that said the opening is supposed to be late October/early November. It is hard to find if that is the room they are going to use, tucked away down a hall.

    1. I talked with the owner some months ago. He was aiming for mid-to-late October. He said he still has to fly in the head chef from Taipei to give his blessing. At that time, he also said he's going to stay open until 2am.

      1 Reply
      1. re: HungWeiLo

        good luck with that visa. Visas for people to come here from Taiwan for any length of time appear to be hard to come by. We know some people who were trying to bring a Buddhist priest over to run a monestary and they finally just gave up.

      2. If it's open by Thanksgiving, be pleasantly surprised. Restaurants never open on time, and if someone's turning a non-restaurant space into one, you can safely add 3-6 months to the initial estimated opening date.

        1. I had the wonderful opportunity to eat at Din Tai Fung in Beijing and am really excited for them to finally open in the Seattle area.

          1. They're getting close... according to the post on FB it's looking like sometime in Nov, but no official date yet http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid...

            1 Reply
            1. re: mingm

              (oops, should read the link first. Disregard.)

            2. Confirmed with some guy directing people outside the restaurant itself yesterday that they should open on or about November 15. Restaurant still looked unfinished...

              4 Replies
              1. re: tomdotkom

                They were putting the sign up when I drove past on NE8th Friday morning.

                1. re: tomdotkom

                  I saw some noise on one of the local Twitter feeds today (@MyBellevue) saying that they would actually be opening this Saturday.

                  1. re: Vexorg

                    Went by today and all they will say is sometime in November.

                    1. re: Vexorg

                      I was so happy to see that twitter feed and stopped by today. They're definitely up and running, as there were a few workers pleating some dumplings in the window today and I could see cameras and people sitting inside. Was told by the hostess that they will open to the public hopefully on Wed, but definitely by Sat. Fingers crossed that this time next week I'll be enjoying some XLB...

                  2. SO EXCITED!! I'm visiting in December, and I haven't had any XLB in ages. yay!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: itsminimy

                      If you are near the ID check out Jade Garden on 7th and King. A friend born in Hong Kong first brought me to JG a few years ago. Among the excellent dim sum offerings are xiao long bao.

                      Hong Kong Restaurant
                      302 N Olympic Ave, Arlington, WA 98223

                      Jade Garden Restaurant
                      7th S King S, Seattle, WA 98101

                      1. re: klsalas

                        Really? I've never seen them on the carts.

                          1. re: christy319

                            You probably have to special order them. Also, I've noticed that the people working the carts only offer certain items to people who aren't Chinese. Probably they assume that other people wouldn't want to eat them.

                        1. re: GreenYoshi

                          The hostess at the restaurant is handing out menus and saying sometime next week.

                        2. Din Tai Fung just opened yesterday at 5:30! I happened by to swing by and snagged a table.

                          18 Replies
                            1. re: clearskies0810

                              I hear the line's over an hour long and out the door now.

                              1. re: HungWeiLo

                                the wait was 45-50 mins last night. everything was about as expected for a restaurant with a so much hype and anticipation on its first nght... a bit chaotic and the food not at its best (which are minor and forgivable offenses on day 1), but nonetheless was quite good. will definately return in a few months - actually, probably sooner than that.

                                1. re: clearskies0810

                                  I read 3 hours wait and the XLB isn't even as good as what we could already get at Shanghai River in Richmond BC. If that's the case I will wait for the hype to settle down. Anyone care to comment?

                                  1. re: landguy

                                    Well, while the crab & pork XLB I had at Shanghai River in September were indeed better than the crab & pork XLB I had on saturday from Din Tai Fung, it's not really a fair comparison at this point given that Din Tai Fung has only just opened. Waiting fo the hype (and the lines) to settle down is probably a good idea.

                                    1. re: clearskies0810

                                      Does anyone know if they are open for lunch? No hours listed on their website or yelp.

                                      1. re: mr.chorizo

                                        Their menu says:
                                        M-Th 11a-10p
                                        F 11a-2:30a
                                        Sa 10a-2:30a
                                        Su 10a-10p

                                    2. re: landguy

                                      Agreed. Just got back from a 5pm dinner (25 min wait - north of one hour by the time we left - on a Monday night). The skin on the xiao long bao was a bit dry - it stuck to your lips afterwards. Either they needed more water content in the flour mixture, or they let them sit around too long after steaming them.

                                      The noodles were pretty nice, though. I suspect many non-dumpling and non-noodle items were bought elsewhere, such as their zongzi (rice dumpling).

                                      I'd wait a few weeks before trying again. Still nowhere near the quality of Vancouver, but by far by best xiao long bao you'll find in Seattle - even at their very opening-week worst.

                                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                                        2nd visit - Tuesday night at 6:30pm. 5min wait. Several empty tables were observed. I'm sure the weekend crowds are larger.

                                        The quality of the dumplings have gone up noticeably since the first visit. Moisture level of the wrappings are much better, with better soup content in the xiao long bao. The food came within 3-4 minutes of ordering, so they're definitely doing well with the logistics back there. Ordered the pork chop noodles and the spicy beef noodles (which was not spicy) - both were pretty nice other than the lack of spice. Also had the pork and shrimp dumpling - smelled a bit shrimpy to me, but was crispy and well done overall. I should try the vegetable and pork one next time.

                                        I had just gone to Long's for xiao long bao a week ago in Vancouver, and it was still miles better IMO (and at a quarter of the cost, even considering our Third World currency). But I think DTF is certainly getting to be respectable and more worthy of the hype.

                                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                                          The standout for me when I tried DTF this week were what looked to me like shrimp wontons in chili oil (I didn't do the ordering so I can't say what they are really called). Now, I just checked the online menu and there is nothing even called a wonton on the menu, but ask your server about these--they were delicious. The XLB were fine but not great--I like them hotter, juicier and more delicate (I also like Long's in Vancouver). The wait wasn't bad on a Tuesday at 7:30.

                                          1. re: christy319

                                            Sounds like the shrimp and pork won ton in spicy sauce - the online menu doesn't seem very complete

                                            1. re: FoodDee

                                              That sounds right then. Thanks. It wasn't actually that spicy so that shouldn't put anyone off.

                                            2. re: christy319

                                              Went back for a 3rd visit and tried their sticky rice dumpling. It wasn't very well done - one can tell it was "old" stock and tasted like it was reheated. Also tried the colorful rice dessert which was a dud. The soup dumpling was just average - dry like the first visit.

                                              Looks like my conclusion is that the only thing consistent at DTF is its inconsistency. They pride themselves on consistency, with their liberal use of scales and standards. However, I seem to observe vastly different standards on each visit, ranging from mediocre to slightly above average. And other than their soup noodles and their flagship xiaolongbao, the rest of the menu seem to be quite substandard and overpriced.

                                              I've only heard of two people out of a large group of Chinese friends who have been positive about the new Seattle DTF, and the bad reviews seem to be spreading like wildfire within the community. I guess that explains why the owner spends all his time chatting up real friendly with exclusively non-Asian customers - but I wish he would work harder on providing world-class quality instead given the standard set by the brand name.

                                              1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                Agree that there is inconsistency, but strongly disagree that the quality of the XLB ranges "from mediocre to slightly above average." Certainly not when compared to other items sold as XLB in Seattle, which are generally soupless with flabby wrappers. On five visits, I did once receive one order that was dry in the way that HWL describes (seemingly having sat around too long after steaming), but all other orders have had thin, supple wrappers and ample hot liquid filling. I've never been to Long's or other specialists in VAN or other DTF franchises. However, compared to well-regarded places in NYC (Shanghai Cafe and Nan Xiang), Din Tai Fung ranges from mediocre (the one order) to very good, perhaps excellent.

                                                1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                  about that overpriced issue---I'm curious as to the cost of a meal at Din Tai Fung for say, 4 people. We are used to dropping a considerable amount [3 digits] at Bamboo Garden or Li's dumpling [much more than an average person would--we do like our leftover Chinese for lunches] but a friend told me that I would have to pay out the nose to feed my crew at Din Tai Fung. . . .As a person who cut my "chinese food teeth" on food in SGV and in China, the thought of paying hundreds of bucks for mediocre food troubles me.

                                                  Thoughts appreciated.

                                                  Bamboo Garden
                                                  202 106th Pl NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

                                                  1. re: jenn

                                                    I can't get out of there for less than $40-$50 for a very casual light-ish dinner for 2. And that's without ordering any drinks or apps and desserts. Just straight dinner food for the most part. The XLB is $1 each - if that gives you an idea, and they're not exactly filling IMO. Although I would fully disregard that fact if the XLB were up to par with Vancouver or DTF franchises in Asia (which the Bellevue branch is very very far away from).

                                                    Although I do agree with equinoise that they are by far and alone the current best in Seattle right now. But that says more about Seattle than about DTF.

                                                    1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                      I went to the Bellevue DTF last Friday with my wife and was less than impressed with the quality of the Pork and Crab XLB. I have had better at a standard Dim Sum places here in the Bay Area. I also had their standard Pork noodles which were pretty bland. It kind of reminds me of Yank Sing in San Francisco-expensive, nice decor, and mediocre. Based on my experience here and what I have heard on the board it sounds like I will need to make a weekend trip to Vancouver/Richmond if I want good Dim Sum/Dumplings when I make the move to Seattle next month.

                                                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                        That is what is cost me as well (~$20/pp without drinks). I think the comparison with Yank Sing is a good one, though YS for me was pricier.

                                    3. Here's a stupid question probably. What kind of food do they serve? People talk about 'regular' dim sum dishes (and I see them on their online menu) but then talk about the XLB. So are they doing alot of different regions? We're going to be in SEA soon and I was considering ID one morning for dim sum. Or a Shanghainese place for XLB and other things.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        DTF serves for the most part dishes from around Shanghai, Taiwan, and a bit of Fujian. They're most famous for the XLB and dumplings.

                                        I've noticed lately in many posts elsewhere this new trend in appropriating the term "dim sum" for dumplings of non-Cantonese origin. Strictly speaking, dim sum is Cantonese. Foods like XLB are not part of the traditional dim sum repertoire.

                                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                                          Thank you. That's what I thought. The only time I've had XLB at a Cantonese place (dim sum) they were VERY disappointing. They actually came around on a cart so how could they possibly be other than thumbs down.

                                      2. Anyone know if the XLB is always available there, lunch and dinner? Someone told me it's only weekends, but that seems absurd if that's their signature dish. Also, suggestions for less busy times to eat there with kids in tow?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: lrsseattle

                                          That is absurd, and untrue.

                                          I would recommend going in in the afternoon for a late lunch, or an early dinner, especially on the weeknights, if you can. Prime dinner times will be tough, but I think even then has died down somewhat from the initial frenzy.

                                        2. Just curious to see if others noticed this as well.

                                          I had several recent visits there (after a half-year hiatus), and noticed that they have noticeably improved their dumpling wrapper quality - not too dry/wet - they're much more consistent. A new issue that I have with their XLB is the filling that they now use - they've clearly now switched to a much leaner meat. The usual gristly-ness and fatty-ness I expect from a XLB just wasn't there. I suppose that gristly / fatty doesn't play well with their Lincoln Square clientele who may be more health conscious than someone who wants their XLB to be of a more traditional peasant / rough preparation, so I'm a bit annoyed at this latest development. Hopefully I just happened to catch them on a few off days.

                                          There's a new place called Yang's opened next to Wonton City and Paldo World in Bellevue. Their stuff seems fairly average (a bit bland too), but I have yet to try their namesake dumplings.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: HungWeiLo

                                            We went to DTF for the first time a few weeks ago and tried the XLB. My only complaint was that the filling was dry, which HungWeiLo has explained as due to leaner meat. I too would expect more fat.

                                            1. re: HungWeiLo

                                              The wrapping of DTF Bellevue's XLB is not as pretty and exact as offered else where. But their pork chop fried rice and fish dumpling is a notch above! It was totally worth the 40 min wait.