Jason, James and I met up last week for dinner. We first started out with plans for donkatsu, then kabobs and somehow ended up in Arcadia for dumplings. We went to the infamous Din Tai Fung. There are two locations in Arcadia, on the same street!! One on 1088 S. Baldwin Ave and a newer one on 1108 S. Baldwin Ave. The newer one is owned by the owner’s son and at 8 pm, there was quite a few parties waiting outside. Jason, who is a regular there, asked if the head chef was at this location today and he was. Apparently, the head chef rotates between this one and the other restaurant so be sure to check where he is before you sit down.
I’ve heard of DTF years ago when I was in San Diego and have always wanted to check it out. When I found out Jason is a regular there and has eaten 70 of these dumplings in one sitting, I knew I had to go.
We let Jason do the ordering. We ordered pork xiao long bao, crab xiao long bao, shrimp and pork dumplings (not the shiaomai), shrimp fried rice, sauteed green beans, and boiled pork and vegetable dumplings served with red chili oil and minced garlic. The xia long baos and the shrimp and pork dumplings were steamed. We peeked inside the kitchen and saw them making the dumpling wraps. Jason said that they were freshly made and kept thin to avoid overcooking, which is a key technique to maintaining the flavor of the dumplings.
I thought it was really cute how the back of the chopstick wrappers had visual instructions on how to eat a xiao long bao. I’ve laid out the directions for your convenience.
Jason said that the pork dumplings are Shanghainese dumplings. I felt bad for James and Jason, both of whom had to wait to eat each thing until I took adequate pictures. hahaha. Sorry for being such a pain.
The crab dumplings are apparently seasonal in China, so you usually can’t get them all the time. Not sure if that’s the case here in California where there are no seasons. The only way you can tell the dumplings apart is that the crab dumplings have a carrot in the center of the steamer. But taste wise, you can tell as soon as you taste the juice from the dumplings. I was so distracted by all the different items, I can't remember which I liked better.
The shrimp dumplings were really great too. The shrimp dumplings have pork and a plump, juice morsel of shrimp inside.
We also had boiled pork and vegetable dumplings served with red chili oil and minced garlic.
The dumplings were excellent, but my favorite was the fried rice and green beans. hahaha. I could have just come here and eaten these two things and been perfectly happy. Can't you just see the shiny, individual grains of rice fried with shrimp, egg and scallions. This is not your typical fried rice from Chinese takeout made out of day old rice, it was fluffy and moist. The shrimp is a perfect shade of pink too.
The fried green beans were stellar too. I don’t know how all Chinese restaurants fry their green beans, but they are always cooked to perfection and never overcooked. They had an extensive list on their menu so hopefully I’ll be able to check out their other items next time.