Living out my foodie dreams with juicy XLB dumplings in Taipei at DTF!
In March 2017, after quitting my job in corporate America, my family and I planned a three week country-hopping vacation. On the list: Taiwan, Japan and, lastly, my home country Vietnam. This was my first trip ever to the Asian continent and I was lucky enough to hit 3 of the most amazing countries. Amazing, why? They’re 3 out of my top 5 favorite cuisines!
Our first leg was in Taiwan! We stayed at an AirBnB in Taipei and every day, we indulged in the street vendors serving up cheap and carbilicious eats. On our second morning, we decided to tackle the 10AM crowd and wait for Din Tai Fung for breakfast. We got there right on time just to grab a number! The crowd grew exponentially with every minute. If you find yourself in Taipei and awake at 9:30AM, head straight here and grab a number in the cue.
Because… it lives up to the hype. All of it. I’ve been to two DTF locations in the US in the 626 (shout out to San Gabriel Valley!) and Orange County and loved each one. But something about Taiwan’s gloomy humid weather makes eating at the original Din Tai Fung location better. The food tasted fresher, the service is 100x faster and the price was considerably cheaper. It also doesn’t hurt knowing I was in a foreign country eating a renowned dish at the original location so it was easily any foodie’s dream come true.
All that adds up to a must-eat in Taiwan – fresh, fast and cheap, and the crowd proves it. Luckily, my family and I arrived right at 10:01AM (open at 10AM on Monday) and only had a 35-minute wait. We filled out and submitted our order form while we waited so once we got seated (on the 2nd floor), our food started coming out right away.
Xiao long bao: crab roe, pork, chicken, taro (dessert)
Veggie wontons in soup
Pork and veggie steamed dumplings
Minced pork noodles
The appetizers they offer were pretty good – we got the mung bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and green beans. However, I’d skip buying these and wait for the main attractions. Every dish was delicious and we ordered enough for 5 hungry adults. The XLB’s were filled with soup and piping hot, but the burn was worth it. With a bit of soy sauce, vinegar and a few slices of ginger, you have the perfect soupy sensation. The taro dumplings were very different, sweet and stuffed with taro chunks. I’ve never even heard of “dessert dumplings” before, so that was interesting!
However, one of my most favorite dishes, besides the XLB’s, was the minced pork noodles.
The noodles were chewy, but soft and the minced pork stew was a comfort. I wanted to have this dish all to myself! It was the best accompaniment to all of our dumpling dishes. I’ve been on the search for this same dish of the same flavor since! Nothing’s been the same! Taiwan – you’ve really taught me a noodle lesson.
For 5 people, the bill came out to be ~$60 USD, which included a 10% service fee. Not the cheapest meal in Taiwan, but definitely cheap for the culinary standard. And well worth the visit! So happy that I can say I have been to Din Tai Fung in Taipei!
I recommend coming early to avoid a longer wait, because you WILL have to wait so might as well accept it now. Get everything.