Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Delicious Dumplings

The heavenly xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles there's a big Taiwanese community and many of them live in an area called Arcadia.

The exterior of the restaurant
And as luck would have it, there's two Din Tai Fung restaurants practically next to each other -- on the same street.

We got there before 11am when it opens and there were already a few groups of people waiting to dine on some delicious Shanghainese fare.

Once you walk in you can see an open kitchen with staff busy rolling dough and breaking off pieces, periodically weighing them on a scale. These are then vigorously rolled into thin round skins wrapping the delicious pork and its juice when steamed.

The restaurant is contemporary and hardly looks like a Chinese restaurant save for the few round tables and of course chopsticks and bowls.

While there is a book menu that strangely doesn't have the prices listed, diners must order using a paper sheet listing the dishes with the prices.

Most of the dishes are the same as the ones in Beijing, though there are many variations. We had an excellent place of stir-fried string beans that were crispy and sweet, and there was an appetizer of fried pork chop that had great flavour and not dry either.
"Crystal dumplings" that are vegetarian and very good

Since there were many of us, we had many orders of xiaolongbao -- and they were excellent. The thin skins coupled with the meaty filling and juice was divine. Who can resist having another... and another...

Another good dumpling was the vegetarian one that was also quite filling.

However the pork and shrimp wonton was just average -- the shrimp not having much taste, while the plate of spinach with garlic was also nothing special.

Contemporary decor in this Taiwanese eatery
We liked the zhajiangmian, noodles with broad beans and a meat sauce mixed together, and the fried rice with shrimp. Another winner was the chicken soup, a flavourful broth with pieces of chicken in it.

The starter of seaweed with bean sprouts and tofu was delicious as in other branches, and the spicy cucumber had a kick to it.

What was also impressive was our waitress who was patient with our large table, but also very efficient and fulfilled our requests relatively quickly.

Mmmmm delicious!

Din Tai Fung
1108 South Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA

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