Sunday 16 March 2014

Din Tai Fung, The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur

There are a range of Chinese restaurants, often found in the various malls of KL that have multiple outlets within the city, and Din Tai Fung is probably the most famous of the lot. Originating from Taiwan, Din Tai Fung is found throughout Asia, and has recently spread to the U.S and Australia. The DTF in Taiwan has even been given a Michellin star, something I treat with a touch of skepticism based on my experience of Michellin starred Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong. However, with all its commercial success, this franchise must be doing something right...

 Today we went to the branch in the Gardens Mall on a Sunday afternoon - it was packed as usual..

While we waited 5 minutes to get a table, we were given this order form, good if you already know what you're having. Luckily we did!

First to arrive was the pork chop fried rice. RM 16 (approx $5).

Although technically one dish, the two components come separately. The pork chop had been marinated in Shaoxing wine and arrived as a plate of glistening goodness. The pork itself was pleasantly lean, juicy, and was gristle free.

The egg fried rice that came with the pork was for me, much better than your typical Chinese fare. Erin and I speculated as to why Din Tai Fung's fried rice is so good, we thought maybe due to more oil or egg but couldn't be sure.

Either way it has a lovely, fluffy texture and would make an excellent side dish even without the pork.

Overall - both components were done very well 4 / 5

Next up is the star attraction of Din Tai Fung - the xiao long bao. RM 12.90 (approx $4).

These are what have made DTF so famous and successful. I've eaten in outlets in Korea and in Malaysia, and the one consistently excellent dish is this. The balance between thickness of the skin and the quantity of the soupy-pork mixture inside is spot on.

As usual, they are to be dipped in vinegar with ginger, allowed to cool and then swallowed whole. These ones are an explosion of flavour when you bite into them, and are very hard to beat.

Overall - Still the best xiao long bao I've had - 4.5 / 5

Last to arrive were these Taiwanese spring rolls RM 6.90 (approx $2).

These little spring rolls were a bit of an afterthought for us. They contained minced pork and were relatively grease free. They were decent but nothing really to write home about. 

Overall - Good but unspectacular 3 / 5

Judging by the review scores, you might think Din Tai Fung is the a contender for best Chinese restaurant in town. It is however, a bit of a one-trick pony, the xiao long bao are great, as is the fried rice but everything else we've tried there has been nothing out of the ordinary. That said, we go there quite often because it does do these few dishes extremely well, and is very good value.

Dim Sum chefs hard at work

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