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Saturday 23 April 2011

Lunch at Din Tai Fung Restaurant

I was in Kuala Lumpur last week, supposedly to attend a short course but it was cancelled at the very last minute. My air ticket was the lowest fare of which I couldn't change the flight time. Furthermore, my hotel booking was also the online fare that was not refundable. Since I had already paid for all those, I stayed on.

Since another friend of mine also got stranded due to the course cancellation, we moved on to Mid Valley City for shopping and food. When we were looking for a place for lunch, I spotted Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) at The Gardens. I have always heard of the goodness of its xiao long bao (小籠包), or sometimes referred to as shanghai dumplings; but I hadn't tried it all this while. So, I decided to savour my taste bud there.

Din Tai Fung is a chain restaurant from Taiwan. Originally a cooking oil store, it is now an international chain of full-fledged restaurants, with three outlets in Malaysia at the moment. However, all these outlets are located within the Klang Valley only. I hope one day they will venture across the South China Sea to the Malaysian Borneo, particularly Kuching.

Since I was there for the first time, I really wanted to try whether the xiang long bao lives up to the standard of the hearsay. The crab-meat steamed dumplings (蟹肉小籠包), RM9.80++ for six pieces; were definitely better than those at Nanxiang Dumpling Restaurant (南翔饅頭店) in Shanghai. However, those at Jia Jia Dumpling (佳家汤包), also in Shanghai; are still top notch in my xiao long bao gastronomic adventure.

We also had the whole-shrimp shao mai (鮮蝦燒賣), RM13.80++ for six pieces. They were really good as there was still some broth inside the shao mai. A first bite onto the shao mai got the broth spilling into my mouth, which was quite a gastronomic experience. All this while, I thought only xiao long bao can offer such experience.

After having our stomach half-filled with those 'appetizers', we moved on to our main course. I wanted to have something with clear soup, so I settled with the chicken soup la mian (雞湯拉麵), RM15.80++. I first tried dipping the noodles into the soup but the noodles tasted tougher than normal. I finally poured the whole bowl of chicken stock to soak the noodles. The chicken soup was top notch; full with chicken flavour.

My lunch partner ordered a braised beef la mian (紅燒牛肉麵), RM16.80++; which is a very authentic Taiwanese food. The noodles were well soaked in this bowl of braised beef broth. The beef was very flavourful and tender.

We shared the two bowls of noodles so that we could taste more variety of the food there.

My lunch partner commented that the food looks better in small serving size. Do you agree? I think she was quite right as the chunks of meat looks much more generous in the small bowls.

There is really no secret of success of Din Tai Fung as it really lives up to the standard of simple but fine Chinese food. More often than not, the simplest food is the hardest to master in the culinary world.

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