Weakness: Puts shame to the name of Xiao Long Bao
Other Xiao Long Bao Places
Din Tai Fung is a Taiwanese franchise restaurant serving Chinese food. The first location opened in Taiwan and was famous among the Japanese tourist. This allowed the franchise to grow and concur the world of Xiao Long Bao in China, and around the world. This is one of the first locations opened in North America. I have been to the original location and I can tell you it should be fraud for this restaurant to call itself “Din Tai Fung”. They should remove their franchise name.
Din Tai Fung in University Village of Seattle
This location is located in the south building of University Village of Seattle. The entrance is right off the parking lot’s escalator. There is also elevators for accessibility.
Line up of non-connoisseur
There is always line up at Din Tai Fung during meal hours. I’m not sure if it’s because of the franchise name, or perhaps all these people lining up are all here for the first time. The worst cast scenario is all these people cannot tell the differences between good food and bad food.
You can look at how Xiao Long Bao are made while waiting in line.
Din Tai Fung use division of labor to make their dumplings. Staff specialize in one aspect of making dumplings so it’s more efficient.
Large contrast between dark interior and bright light from outside
This Din Tai Fung is a very large restaurant at approximately 200 seats. The tables and chairs have mahogany patterns on them. This makes the entire space looks darker. This creates quite a contrast compared to outdoor lighting.
Tableware are simple white dish with black chopsticks
There’s nothing too special about the tableware. They look clean though.
Standard sauces for every table.
We order by filling out this two page ordering sheet.
The menu has corresponding ordering number to the ordering sheet. We fill this ordering sheet out by ourselves and hand them to the staff.
Xiao Long Bao is BAD
The Xiao Long Bao are 10 for $13.50 USD. Most places sell Xiao Long Bao in set of 6 because this is supposed to be part dessert. Din Tai Fung sell theirs in set of 10 so they can charge more. Xiao Long Bao at this Din Tai Fung are expensive and very bad. The skins are thin, but the closing point have way too much dough. The dough amount is approximately half of the filling. They are tough to the bite, and does not provide pleasant texture.
The inside of Xiao Long Bao is an even bigger disappointment. The sauce is almost non-existent. Also, there is not much flavour. You can see the thickness of the skin on the top from this angle.
Sweet and Sour Pork Baby Back Ribs
The sweet and sour pork baby back ribs are not bad. The sweet and sour are in good balance and provided complex flavour. This dish is the only acceptable dish from this Din Tai Fung.
Oily Sauteed Taiwanese Cabbage with Garlic
The sauteed Taiwanese cabbage with garlic is very oily. Cabbages were cut, not hand torn. They are also quite large to eat comfortably. When picking up a piece of cabbage to put in my mouth, oil starts to drip. I double checked, they are not cabbage juice. Consuming this cabbage gave me the same feeling as eating pork belly. You know, that feeling when you didn’t eat a lot but your body is telling you that’s enough grease for the day.
House Chicken Soup
This pot of house chicken soup is very small in portion. It is about mug size. Nothing special about the taste. Order it only if you absolutely need a cup of chicken soup.
Shrimp and Kurotuba Pork Pot Stickers
It is Din Tai Fung culture to serve pot stickers upside down to showcase the crispy bottom crust. The extravagant thin crisp crust hide the pot stickers underneath. When you eat them, you estimate where pot stickers are and break the crust accordingly. It provides excitement to eating an ordinary dish.
Unfortunately for the Din Tai Fung in Seattle, I broke the bottom crust and knew this is not the right stuff. The crust should have been light, fluffy and crispy. This crust was soggy. I could not break it off easily because the top layer of the bottom crust was still wet. This is not cooked properly.
The Shrimp and Kurotuba Pork Pot Stickers pot stickers should be soft and juicy to the bite. The real Din Tai Fung’s potstickers should have a bounce and give me a satisfying feeling when biting into them. However, the texture of the pot stickers can only be best described as “wimpy”.
I don’t care if it’s Kurotuba Pork or whatever the pork they use. I cannot taste the difference. If you want to use prestige ingredients, customers should be able to differentiate it in the taste. Also something of note, shrimp does not have much texture.
Showcasing the wet pot sticker crust. Shrimp pot stickers are under-cooked.
Interior space has clashing design
Oriental pattern ceiling and exposed mechanical duct work ceiling don’t work well together. Also the dark color scheme does not work well with bright sunlight outside.
Leg space under the table is ridiculously limited
There is about 6 inches from sofa to the metal table leg. I hit my knee for more than 8 times during my short visit. My chest is about 2 inches away from the edge of the table when I eat. Not a comfortable space.
604 Food Critic Assessment.
The Din Tai Fung in University Village is extremely expensive and tastes extremely bad. We spent $40 per person and got some low-quality imitated Taiwanese food. If I have any say, I would revoke their license to operate. The line up at the front just baffled me. Is there really so many people who does not appreciate good food? To be fair, their service is not bad, but the atmosphere is not very enjoyable. This place is not worth the drive, totally not recommended.