Friday, October 30, 2009

Din Tai Fung - Arcadia, CA

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.

1. Pour vinegar into the small saucer with the slivers of ginger in it.

2. Gently lift one dumpling and dip into the ginger vinegar.
3. Put on spoon.
4. Take a nibble on the dumpling skin and sip the juice.
5. Drizzle some vinegar and ginger slices on top of the dumpling.
6. Now enjoy.

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.

Here's a peek 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.

I miss you Din Tai Fung. I'll pay you a visit soon.

Din Tai Fung
1088 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007


  1. Got to say the dumplings and rice looks really good. Sounds like a great place to eat at.

  2. Thanks Ms. K for your post. Where do you live? There might be a din tai fung in your area.

  3. interesting. i went to din tai fung years ago after hearing the hype and i was disappointed :( the xiao long bao was not very good. i really love xiao long bao and i so wanted to like that place. i just assumed it's one of those places where it's really good in asia but the chain is not up to par. however, i do recall my friend saying to me at the time that a lot of the other dishes are really good. i think they were better than the dumplings themselves. maybe i should give it another try. :) another place to add to the list when i return...

  4. sue, i wanna show you some pictures of the shabu shabu place we went to for dinner for my bday. i wasn't as impressed with it as the reviews from yelp. you would have done a better review! :)

  5. mary, is the shabu shabu place in LA? which one? :)

  6. i want to try this place. it reminds me of the soup dumplings at joe's shanghai in new york and i'm craving them right now.

  7. deb: yes, let's go again. I am craving the fried rice and green beans.

    mary: yes please, I'd love to see pics of the shabu shabu place. Did they do udon and jook afterwards?

    jiwon: ooh, soup dumplings? What is that? Is that dumplings in a soup or is that like these XLBs? If I were you, I'd be milking the whole craving thing every which way I could while I am preggers. Poor future husband of mine ... he'll be doing lots of late night runs and driving ridiculously distances. JW, you only have a few weeks to use this privilege, utilize it!

  8. I love xlb because its like a fatty, meaty flavor exposion in your mouth. But din tai fung is taiwanese, so of course their xlb is cleaner and blander tasting than the real shanghaian stuff. where was the best xlb you've had? For me the best was this place that my friend took me to in flushing, queens. SF has a pretty good spot too, but that place in flushing was the best. its still on my mind haha

  9. jiwon: It was such a coincidence but the same day you told me you were craving Joe's Shanghai, my friend took me to a chinese restaurant in Flushing and it turned out to be Joe's Shanghai. Isn't that crazy? Apparently they have several locations in the city, so maybe that's the one you went to. But I tried the soup dumplings and they were awesome. Dare I say they are superior to DTF - much more soup in the dumplings and more flavorful.

    jung: Do you remember the name of the place in Flushing? Was it Joe's Shanghai? I had it the other day and I totally agree with your comment.

  10. I have no idea what the name of it was because it wasn't in english. But it was good...