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A couple weekends ago, I went down to Irvine, CA to visit Krystal! It’s an hour or so south of LA, and we ate so much food during my time there. For brunch, we joined her parents for a delightful meal at Din Tai Fung, the insanely famous soup dumpling restaurant that originated in Taiwan but thankfully made its way to America’s west coast.
It’s known for 3+ hour wait times, and so we stood in line for 15 minutes before it opened to painlessly get a table. They give you a menu while you wait so that you can start marking down what you want to eat! As I already mentioned, they’re most famous for their xiao long bao (which literally translates to “little basket dumpling,” but more commonly known as a “soup dumpling”). These dumplings are essentially pockets of soup and meat wrapped in a chewy skin.
“At Din Tai Fung, the soup dumpling skins are the perfect thickness,” Krystal explained. “They’re not too thick and gummy, but not so thin that they gush soup liquid everywhere when you try to pick them up.”
As you can see, we ordered a ton of different types of soup dumplings! The truffle and pork ones were my favorite— they had the savory goodness of the pork dumplings, but also carried a subtle touch of truffle aroma.
We also can’t forget the delicious appetizers that prepped our stomachs for all of the dumplings. From top to bottom, we had Soy Noodle Salad, Cucumber Salad, Cabbage, and House Chicken Soup.
In addition to soup dumplings, Din Tai Fung also has delicious steamed dumplings of different varieties. Beautifully wrapped, these dumplings also had an amazing combination of savory insides and chewy outsides.
This was a ton of food for four people, and so at this point in the meal, my stomach was as full as a soup dumpling. But we had already ordered dessert, so we had to power through. These dessert “dumplings” were so dense, completely packed with a rich filling.
“My favorite part is always the taro dessert at the end of the meal: miniature pleated soup dumpling skins stuffed with sweetened taro paste,” Krystal explained. “Though the red bean ones are a little too cloying, the taro ones are just sweet and starchy enough to warrant second and third helpings.”
Lastly, I can’t forget about the drinks! Krystal and I both ordered the Sea Salt Green Tea, which was sweetened iced green tea topped with a sea salt foam. The right drink is what it looks like prior to stirring, while the left drink is after stirring. The sea salt foam made the drink stand out, complementing the aromatically sweet green tea while adding a touch of creaminess to the entire drink.
All in all, I ate way too much food during this meal, but it was 100% worth it. Din Tai Fung is legendary for a reason, and given that there are a few more locations along the west coast, definitely give it a try if you’re close to one.
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