Thursday, October 29, 2009

Singapore 360 - Day 18: Dining At Din Tai Fung

Not all Chinese restaurants were created equal. Proof to that statement is Din Tai Fung, which was once hailed by the New York Times as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the world. But before even learning about that fact, we had already visited their Tampines branch a couples of times and vowed we would keep coming back on a regular basis.

In the beginning, we ate there once a week. Later on, we'd visit at least once a month. When friends visited Singapore, Din Tai Fung was always an option we'd consider to take them for lunch or dinner. Our admiration for their food has brought us to their branches in Raffles City and Wisma Atria. Maybe it'll bring us to its main branch in Zhong Xiao, Taiwan someday.

The Vegetarian Delight, a concoction of seaweeds and other vegetables, lives up to its name and is an appetizer we could not go without whenever we dine in Din Tai Fung. Their specialty is of course the dumplings (a.k.a. xiao long bao) and is also among our favorites. I think after all this time I can safely say that we have sampled all their dumplings, although I would not dare try to name which is our favorite.

We've tried other items on their menu as well, including the Steamed Chicken Soup with Noodles and Deep Fried Pork Chops. We have yet to try their deserts as we usually have no more room in our tummies left for them. As for the drinks, we're usually contented with the free-flowing tea. As a side note, I remember that last February they tried to launch a new drink but we didn't find it pleasing and regretted paying to try it out; but I don't think they continued with the launch as I haven't noticed it as part of the menu.

The fact that the servers wear number plates instead of name plates should be enough to give you a clue to the kind of the service they provide. But let me spell it out anyway. The service is very professional, mostly efficient. It was only during our last visit that they forgot about our appetizer (I'm sure you could guess what that is) even after I pointed it out to one of their staff. The caveat is that the service is quite impersonal, but that in itself is not an issue. Even the language barrier, for a few of them don't speak English, is not a deterrent for them to serve you well.

Their restaurants are generally clean. Among the branches I've visited, the one in Wisma Atria is my least favorite. But this is only because I feel that diners are exposed to the people doing their shopping in the mall for there are no walls that surround the dining area.

I'd venture to say that Din Tai Fung is in a league of its own. Yes, there are other Chinese restaurants out there that we all love. I mean, who doesn't like visiting the likes of Crystal Jade every once in a while? But Din Tai Fung deserves special attention because of what it has to offer.

If you haven't tried their food, I invite you to visit one of their branches near you and let me know what you think. Apart from Singapore and Taiwan, Din Tai Fung has branches in Japan, China, Indonesia, Korea, US, Malaysia and Australia. Visit their web site for more information.


Labels: , , , ,