Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao (Shanghai steamed soup dumplings) are considered to be the best in the world, and the Taiwanese restaurant chain has many branches world-wide, including Shanghai (of course), Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and the US.
During our five day stay in Taipei, my friend and I walked past the restaurant numerous times, but never thought we would be able to eat here because of the extremely long queues, controlled by an electronic ticketing system. On our last evening, we tried one last time and were amazed to be able to simply walk in at about 6pm, beating the queue which started to form not long after we started eating.
The xiao long bao come with various fillings – meat, seafood or vegetables (have a look at the excellent menu online!) – and are eaten dipped in a small dish of vinegar and slivers of ginger. It’s important not to pierce them with your chopsticks while picking them up, otherwise the delicate outer skin will rip and the aromatic juices will leak out. I place my bun on my spoon, poke a small hole in the skin at the top with a chopstick, spoon some vinegar and ginger over it, then I eat it from my spoon but still using my chopsticks. This way, none of the precious juices are lost, but be really careful as the contents of the xiao long bao are very hot. And watch out for hot spurts!
We lost count of how many bamboo steamers (ten dumplings each) we managed to get through, along with plenty of fresh green vegetables. As they’re best eaten nice and hot, order one basket at a time. The restaurant only takes cash, but it’s really cheap to eat here and it’s a must if you visit Taipei…