The first thing I noticed walking into the original Din Tai Fung was the kitchen to the right, with table after table of kitchen help preparing tray upon tray of xiaolongbao"”literally a 'small steamer dumpling'.
The heat and humidity in the kitchen matched the weather outside and I wasn't sure this was such a great idea. But after walking up to the fourth floor dining room while inhaling the aromas around me, eating steamed dumplings started to make a lot of sense. A refreshing glass of icy cold Gold Medal Taiwan Beer also helped.
My first dumpling was Angled Loofah (squash) and shrimp. I was instructed not to dip these into a sauce because the delicate flavor would be lost. What impressed me most about these fluffy pillows of goodness was the perfect balance of flavors. This balance seems to be a hallmark of this iconic Taiwanese restaurant.
Next I enjoyed the most famous dumpling at Din Tai Fung "“ pork. These bao have 18 folds at the top and are filled with a small bit of ground pork and a hot broth that spills out when you open the dumpling. But my favorite was the truffle and pork. The truffle-pork bao is a recent addition to the regular menu and is as close to perfection as any food I've ever enjoyed.
The truffle and pork complemented each other (balance!) and made each bite a delight to be savored slowly. Din Tai Fung has branches all over the world, but if you want to try this decadent treat you'll have to go to the original on Xinyi Road in Taipei.
For more information about Din Tai Fung, visit: http://www.dintaifung.com.tw/en/.
Marsha Lenox is a writer and freelance editor. Her articles and essays on travel, roller derby and homeschooling have been featured in newspapers, magazines and on numerous websites and blogs. Marsha writes and performs creative non-fiction stories for Story Salon, the longest running storytelling venue in Los Angeles. She is also a roller derby referee.