Din Tai Fung
I’d heard about Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles, but for one reason or another have yet to get there. When I heard one was opening not only in Seattle, but on the Eastside, I was pretty excited. We’ve yet to find a place that has good xiao loong bao (soup dumplings), which we miss terribly from one of our favorite restaurants in Las Vegas, China Mama. So, after hearing that Din Tai Fung had opened, we went down there the weekend after.
I’d already heard the wait for tables was pretty incredible, and there was quite a bit of hype over this restaurant’s opening. So, I figured we’d be smart. The restaurant opens at 10AM. We’ll show up at around 9:45AM, will breeze right in, and have plenty of time for an 11AM appointment on the other side of Bellevue.
Well, it didn’t quite work out as planned… We got there around 9:45, and there were at least 50 people waiting in line already! Plus, the restaurant didn’t open until around 10:30. We did barely manage to make it in to the first seating, ate quickly, and moved our appointment up to 11:30. Here’s what we had:
A simple version. Good, but nothing exceptional.
Hot and sour soup:
While this isn’t my favorite soup, I have to admit it was a pretty good version. Lots of veggies in there, and the broth was very hot (temperature wise) and quite spicy. Plus, they had ladeled a bit of chili oil on the side, and ground pepper and green onions on top, which was a nice touch.
Xiao loong bao:
These were star of the show, and were quite good, although a bit smaller than I’m used to. Plenty of juice and meat inside, and quite flavorful. I’d come back for these…
These looked better than they tasted. Have you ever bitten into something made with ground meat, only to find a bit of cartilage in it? Well, this is what happened on my first bite of these, so my impression was blown pretty quickly. I can’t STAND finding little hard bits in my food. Call me picky. Little hard bits aside, the flavor was somewhat lacking in these. They were fine with some shoyu and vinegar, but without that, pretty bland.
Char shu bao:
Bao are one of my favorite things, especially when they’re done right. Plenty of soft, pillowy dough, with a nice bit of well seasoned, and extremely hot meat inside. This version failed me in a couple of areas. First, there wasn’t nearly enough dough, and it wasn’t super soft. People might argue that it’s better to have more meat (more for your money, I guess?) but like the dumplings, I didn’t find the meat to be especially flavorful. Then again, I’m comparing these to China Mama’s bao, which are still the best I’ve ever had!
The restaurant is pretty nice inside, contemporary, and quite large. The service was good, although they’re still (understandably) working out a few kinks.
Overall, the food was good, but not exceptional. I’d say the best thing was the soup dumplings, which makes sense as that seems to be what they’re known for. I definitely wouldn’t wait over 30 minutes for a table here. If I’m in Bellevue, craving xiao loong bao, and the crowd dies down, I’d likely return.
700 Bellevue Way NE Ste 280, Bellevue, WA 98004