It’s old news now, but the world famous Din Tai Fung (humorously nicknamed DTF), has finally made its way to Melbourne. I’ve been lucky enough to dine at branches in Taiwan and Sydney. Not to mention this was actually my second visit to the Melbourne branch!
I went with the family for a weekday lunch. When we arrived at around 11:40, there was no line and we were seated straight away. However, most of the restaurant had filled and we were sitting much closer to the entrance than on my previous visit.
To my dismay the dumpling gems and chicken soup weren’t available. The last time the gems were also unavailable but we just assumed that they had sold out since we were having lunch a little bit later. However this doesn’t seem to be the case as this time we were pretty early. I’m not sure what the deal with these gems is, but one day I will hunt them down!
Looking at the drinks menu I was a surprised to see that there was only one choice of hot tea, just named Chinese Tea. There were a lot of interesting sounding iced drinks and mocktails, but when it comes to dumplings Chinese teas are usually a must in my opinion. It’s a bit of a shame that there is only one type of tea to choose from but the cups were pretty cute.
The food that came out soon made up for my initial disappointment though. Shanghai style drunken chicken is one of my favourite cold appetisers. The chicken was tender and had the perfect boozy after taste. My parents said that it could have done with a bit more of a rice wine taste through out but I thought that it was already pretty prominent and that anymore would be a touch overwhelming.
Crab roe Xia Long Bao! Check out the little crab shaped bit of dough in the steamer. How adorable is it? This was a great alternative to the traditional pork XLB. The filling had a strong, sweet seafood taste and even the texture of the filling was different as it had strands of crab in it.
One of my favourite dishes at dumpling places is spicy wontons. DTF’s shrimp rendition were no exception. The all important chilli sauce had a great mix of spicy, sweet and salty flavour. A great point of difference was the slightly herbier taste in the sauce and the dumplings than is usual.
The mango shrimp rolls are an Australian exclusive and therefore I had to try them. This is a combo that sounds weird on paper but strangely works in real life. Personally I thought that there was a touch too much mayonnaise in them but everyone else, even those who are usually averse to creamy sauces really enjoyed it.
The exclusive truffle XLB! This is a bit of a splurge at $4.80 for a single one, but if you’re a truffle lover or just into interesting flavours this is worth trying at least once. The truffle flavour is rather strong and you can see bits of truffle in the mix. This is a bit rich and you will probably only need one.
I’ve noticed that when I go out with the family to Chinese places they seem to like ordering noodles. Today was no exception, as we got two types of noodles. The dry Zha Jiang noodles and wonton soup noodles.
The zha jiang noodles were slippery and delicious with just the right amount of bite. The mince was well flavoured but as a family of spice lovers we all agreed that it would have been even better with a bit of chilli added to the mix.
In comparison the wonton soup noodles were not as much of a hit. The noodles weren’t as springy and the pork and vegetable wontons just weren’t as flavourful as the spicy shrimp wontons that we had earlier.
At this point I was pretty darn full but out order of normal XLB still hadn’t arrived so I struggled on! These really are some of the most pretty and perfect XLB that you can get. My mum is from Taiwan where DTF originated, and she says that the XLB in Taiwan are a little bit better, but that these are the best in Melbourne. I would say that they are on par with Sydney at the very least and undoubtedly delicious!
Last but not least dessert! This was a red bean crisp which I unfortunately forgot to photograph. I can’t really comment om this because I was full to bursting and chose not to have it but even my brother who is usually not a fan of Asian desserts really enjoyed it, saying that it was fried well and flaky.
Something to note is that the food came out very quickly. Apart from the pork XLB a lot of the entrees and the crab XLBs hit our table almost straight away. This is probably so that they can clear tables more quickly the wait time isn’t too long but if you’re looking to enjoy a long leisurely meal the pacing is a little bit off.
Overall I really enjoyed DTF. Almost everything was thoroughly enjoyable and I’m looking forward to coming back and having the shaved iced and more interesting drinks as well as eating more dumplings. Although Melbourne has no shortage of dumplings DTF really stands out for its quality and unique space.