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Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, Arcadia


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Din Tai Fung Dumpling House (DTF) is a very popular restaurant, branching off the original DTF in Taiwan. As a matter of fact, there is only one branch in North America, and to my good fortune, it is located in Arcadia, which is definitely within decent driving distance. They are renowned for their dumplings (duh), which are handmade and served freshly steamed.

Now, I love, love, love this place. I try to go every chance I get. Other food blogs I have perused seem to have mixed reviews, so much so that one dissuaded an out of town blogger from trying it. Tsk, tsk. Those guys definitely missed out. I can understand why some people would be put off by DTF; their delicious bundles of goodness don't come cheap. In this case, as is the case for most things, the cliché rings true - you get what you pay for. 

This time, the whole fam made the drive to Arcadia to satisfy my dumpling craving. We came, and we ate, and we ate, and then we ate some more. We ordered fried rice with pork chop for the kiddies, as carbs and fried food are the only two food groups they will eat. The fried rice was good, but as they say, it's nothing to write home about. The pork chop seemed to be a little on the overcooked side, as it was just a little bit dry. I don't know about you, but I love juicy pork chops, and frying a piece of meat is something of a lost art these days.

On a sidenote, I especially appreciated the fact that they immediately got highchairs for the boys and even set them up with their own disposable bowl and utensils. They even brought out water in a cup with a lid and a straw. It's like they've anticipated every parent's request when dining out with small children. That already scores major points in my book.

We also ordered the chicken noodle soup, and that's exactly what we got. There were a couple of pieces of chicken, a lot of noodles in a simple broth flavored with scallion and ginger. It hit the spot for such a cold day, the broth had a "cleansing" quality about it (at least, that's what my folks would describe it), and the noodles were good. The chicken was a little on the dry side, but it was okay, I ordered the dish for the noodle and the soup, the chicken was merely an afterthought for me.

On to the stars of the entire meal: the dumplings. We ordered the juicy pork dumplings, which are a must when you visit DTF. It was savory, succulent meat wrapped in pillowy goodness. There is a decorum to eating these dumplings. First, take a small bite of just the wrapper while the dumpling sits atop the soup spoon. At this point, you have a choice to dip the dumpling in the custom made sauce that may consists of ginger and the optional soy sauce and vinegar. Once broken, the juices from within the dumpling flow out onto the soup spoon, and it is meant to be consumed with the dumpling at the same time. When you're craving dumplings, nothing else is better. So good.

We also got the juicy pork with crab dumplings. The crab flavor was definitely prominent, but for some reason, it didn't taste very fresh to me. That is an indicator the imitation crab meat is not welcome here; which is good, especially since these dumplings cost almost a dollar each. Another thing we got was the pork and shrimp shumai, which were also excellent and juicy, but did not stand up to the juicy pork dumplings.

For dessert, we decided to try something new and ordered the red bean and taro dumplings. We were pleasantly surprised, as these are actually really good. We chose to split the order to 5 red bean dumplings and 5 taro dumplings. The red bean paste in the dumplings was not too sweet, and made a good combination with the dough. I prefered, the taro, however, because its mild sweetness complemented the dumpling dough better.

All in all, Din Tai Fung Dumpling House is a great place to eat. A few words of advice, though. Arrive early, as parking can be a pain. We were there when it opened for dinner at 5 pm, and by the time we left, which was around 6 pm, the place was packed with people waiting in line. Also, make sure you eat the dumplings hot; it is so much better that way.

Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, 1108 and 1088 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia