Din Tai Fung is a rapidly-growing and famous brand of Taiwanese restaurants which started in Taipei. Its basic yet tasty menu has attracted international acclaim, bringing the affordable flavours of traditional street food to an elegantly simple restaurant setting.
Started as a cooking oil retail store in 1958 by Yang Bingyi and his wife, Lai Penmei, they converted half of their premises to preparing xiaolongbao in 1980, when the business was flagging. These steamed dumplings proved to be so successful that the sale of oil was soon forgotten and the humble shop became what is now the flagship restaurant in a brand spreading across Taiwan, mainland China, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and the USA. Among the four other Din Tai Fung restaurants in Taipei is the exclusive address of Taipei 101.
These simple flour skins are traditionally filled with shredded pork meat in a slightly salty, savoury soup and are steamed in a bamboo basket. They are still the main attraction at the very popular and constantly busy restaurants. Din Tai Fung has diversified a little, now offering a full menu alongside no less than six types of xiaolongbao, including crab roe, chicken, green squash and shrimp, and truffle flavours.
As the brand has grown, prices have naturally increased beyond their humble street food origins, though not significantly so. The original pork dumplings are still just NT$100 for five, while the exotic truffle and pork variety is NT$450 for the same number. Other options and side dishes are fairly priced, ensuring that you won’t generally spend any more than NT$500 per person on the whole meal.
The restaurants themselves all feature large kitchens with huge numbers of industriously working chefs. The dining rooms are simply and elegantly styled along traditional Chinese lines, making it look a little like an unusually smart fast food outlet – which, in a way, it is.
Despite its humble appearance and simple cuisine, Din Tai Fung is widely considered an absolute must-try dining experience in Taipei, knocking the offerings of Michelin-starred chefs off the top spots of many lists of the top restaurants in Taipei. The brand has been awarded a star itself, albeit for one of its Hong Kong branches as the Michelin guide has yet to explore Taiwan. As popular with locals as it is with tourists, any of the five Taipei stores are well worth a visit.
- Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 10:00 – 21:00, Sat – Sun 09:00 – 21:00
- Location: Five outlets, including No. 194, Section 2, Xinyi Road, Xinyi
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2321 8928
- Cuisine: Traditional Taiwanese