Din Tai Fung's quality
Wondering if anyone that has been to the Seattle Din Tai Fung has also been to an overseas location and can compare the quality? I am specifically interested in the texture of the dumpling skins, as well as taste of the fillings in the vegetarian steamed dumplings, regular juicy pork XLB, and sweet taro dumplings.
Love steamed dumplings, and the Taipei & Shanghai DTFs are my favorite dumplings ever, but years ago I went to the Los Angeles DTF and found their quality to be inferior. Heading to Seattle for first time and would definitely go by DTF if their dumplings are the same, but don't want to "waste" a meal there if the craftsmanship isn't at the same level.
re: babette feasts
There is a public bus (550) that goes from DT Seattle to Bellevue pretty much all day, every day. If you need an excuse to hit a shiny mall and get your fix of sterilized suburbia, a trip to DTF might be worth rolling in.
Otherwise, per the first poster, you can get better for less, pretty much in any city with a cluster of major research universities.
I've been to the one in LA, the original Xinyi flagship in Taiwan, as well as the Michelin-starred one in Hong Kong.
The stateside ones really do not compare favorably to the ones in Asia - though the Bellevue one has improved significantly since its opening troubles and certainly stacks up quite well against offerings in Vancouver. Overall, the Bellevue location's quality is about on par with the LA location, so you may consider it to be a "waste" of a meal. But if you eat Chinese/Asian in the Seattle area, you could do a lot worse very easily.
But even in Taiwan, one could find XLB of equal or greater value within a stone's throw from DTF for significantly less money. Except you lose the uniformed waitresses bowing at you in unison.
Have been to locations in Singapore, China, Taiwan (including the original shop), both stores in Arcadia, all multiple times, and the Bellevue location is definitely not "inferior" to the others.
We live right across the street from the Bellevue location and go there about once a month. I'm always impressed w/ the efficiency of their operations and consistency of their food. In my opinion, any differences would be negligible.
If you think the Arcadia locations are inferior to those in Taipei and Shanghai, I'd probably skip the Bellevue location as it sounds like you'll probably be disappointed as well.
Factor in the flight time and ticket price, I'll choose the Bellevue location anyday.
Regardless, enjoy your first visit to Seattle!
Rather than start a new thread, I'm just going to give this a bump. I'll start by saying this was my first visit to ANY DTF and I thought the food was amazing! I eat XLB every chance I get and even made it once, but these were like a nother whole 'animal.' They sagged under the weight of the filling but didn't tear. They were SO hot when they first came out that we both had to eat other things for just a few minutes to let them cool down some. We got the 'regular' pork cause that's what we like. I loved the size cause they really are just one good-size bite. The filling was lovely and the broth the best I've ever had. We also a some vegetable and pork dumpling with a spicy sauce and a seaweed and bean curd with vinegar salad. We honestly thought every dish was equally good. No - GREAT :) With a large Tsgintao the cost was $31 before tax and tip.
And since they're opening a location in Seattle, we'll be regulars there when we return a couple of times a year.
ETA: you can see from the second photo how thin the wrapper was.
I've been to each one of the DTF's. The one up here definitely lags behind the others in quality control and also the most important factor - the heat by which the dumplings are at when they reach the table.
That said, they're still absolutely delicious, and I frequent there regularly.
thanks for all the info! Perhaps I will stick to what's more unique to Seattle then, as I visit the Los Angeles area every year.
I hit DTF this past weekend on my way down from Vancouver, BC. I also have been to the DTF in Shanghai this past April.
The Shanghai location blew me away and was the best XLB/dumpling I've ever had so my expectations for this were very high.
In the end, every dish ranged from pretty good to mediocre and nothing compared to the Shanghai location. I honestly think there are a handful of places that make better dumplings in Richmond, BC (Chinese heavy suburb of Vancouver) than this location of DTF.
That's my feeling too. Vancouver still has the upper hand on XLB - places like Chen's, Lin's, Long's, the numerous places with the word "Shanghai" in Richmond. Suhang is one I like especially. These places all make ones equal to or better than the Bellevue DTF, and all offer many other items that are superb in their own class. (And the ones from food courts - such as Xu's in Crystal Mall in Burnaby - are much cheaper than DTF).
Though if the only thing you want to eat is XLB - in my opinion there is no longer a need to drive to Vancouver for that anymore. There's a difference, but not enough of one to go all the way up there unless you're wanting to get some other stuff.
When in places like Taipei or Shanghai, there are often numerous places to get XLB just around the corner from the DTF locations - some of those are even better and cheaper than DTF. But then again, DTF is Taipei is so much cheaper than in Bellevue. In Bellevue, $10USD for 10 XLBs. In Taipei's Michelin-starred flagship, it's something like $6 for 12 XLBs.
I visited Su Hang of Richmond last year on excellent recommendation from B.C. board posters and I loved the crab XLB but found them different, not necessarily better, than DTF in Bellevue. Also, FWIW, my wife has also visited the DTF in San Gabriel Valley several times and could not say there is a consistent difference in quality.
I would surely agree that aside from DTF Bellevue (and maybe Ping's on a good day) there is nothing in the SEA area that can compare to XLB available in Richmond/Vancouver.
I find that the Bellevue location is inferior in quality to the LA location and far inferior to the international locations i've been to (China). The thing I like about DTF is the quality of the filling, skin and the sauce and that it is fairly consistent. I've had better in Shanghai (at some small hole in the wall places).
The Bellevue always seems to have the dumplings come out not quite hot/fresh enough, the skin tends to be a bit tough and they could up the seasoning a bit.
LA tends to be more consistent in this regard with a slightly higher quality level.
The Shanghai location I went to was another decent step above that.
I've eaten at DTF locations in Taipei and Hong Kong, as well as Bellevue. Bellevue's food is pretty good, and the dumplings are ALMOST as good as the Asian stores, because the pork doesn't seem to be quite as juicy as the other locations. The side dishes are just as good, I think, and the fried green beans are better at Bellevue than anywhere else I've had them
The room at Bellevue is just OK, as is service. By far the best environment is the Kowloon DTF--the room is pleasant and the staff is simply superb.