For those who don’t know about Din Tai Fung, here’s a helpful article. For those who have no patience, simply put,
Din Tai Fung is a restaurant originating in Taiwan, specialising in xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings). Outside its native Taiwan, Din Tai Fung also has branches in Australia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, Thailand and UAE.
New York Times named Din Tai Fung as one of the best restaurants in the world at one point. Now, imagine a scene where you choose hotels based on places to eat around it. I don’t have to imagine things though, because I do that all the time. I picked the Novotel beside Pavilion Mall, Kuala Lumpur because a) I wanted my first meal in Malaysia to be Din Tai Fung, and b) Novotel was really close to it. I had already researched the menu and knew what I wanted, so about 30 minutes after we had reached our hotel, I dragged S with me to Pavilion Mall, with her looking at the maniacal gleam in my eyes with mild bewilderment and quiet resignation. It took me a bit of time to locate the place, which was on the Fourth Level (if I am not mistaken), but I zoned in like a homing pigeon and almost broke into a run, barely able to contain my excitement.
Once inside, the smiling host got us seated and provided us with menus within a few minutes. The ordering procedure is pretty simple, and similar to other Din Tai Fung outlets: You see the menu and then a small card is presented to you where you check off the dishes you want to eat and the quantity you want. We picked out a few things that looked good on the menu, and S wanted a Roselle drink.
I’m 90% sure S chose this drink because of its color – it had roselle (kokum) in it, was mildly tangy and not too sweet. I wasn’t sure if I liked it, so I quickly moved past and ordered what I had been dreaming about ever since I first read up about it.
My order was simple the first time (it may be of note that I went back to Din Tai Fung a second time and a third because clearly my life’s aim is to be a glutton. I chose the Pork Xiao Long Bao, the Mini Golden Custard Egg Bun, and some vegetable and mushroom fried rice for S. In my second visit, I picked the Crab Roe and Pork Xiao Long Bao and the Pork and Chive dumplings, but lets talk about the fact that I went to two different Din Tai Fung outlets and the Xiao Long Bao was virtually the same thing. Makes one happy, I daresay).
The Xiao Long Bao is a beautiful thing to behold. Inside, there’s a considerable amount of slurpable umami-laden soup, so one should be careful and not pop in the entire dumpling inside one’s mouth in one go, but rather, follow a simple procedure which has been outlined beneath. I followed this hallowed path, slurped up the soup, and made a mental note to shift to South East Asia in the near future. A small heap of ginger and soy, together with a few drops of Chilli oil, was added for variety.
S was interested in the Egg Custard Bun and I bit into one, only to have molten hot eggy custard erupt from within. The egg custard wasn’t silky, but rather, had a slightly grainy texture which I suspected came from the use of salted egg yolks in the concoction. Nonetheless, it was a sweet and mildly salty dish that we both wolfed down.
S had also ordered a vegetarian fried rice, and despite multiple requests to not add mushrooms, they did add some black fungus. Although it didn’t break her out, we still made the extra effort to segregate each small piece of fungus (and of course, I had to eat them), and the result was a simple, short-grained rice fried rice which she declared to be ‘quite nice’.
I had, on the other trip, ordered a portion of pork and chive wontons, but I wasn’t a major fan of it simply because the greens overpowered the pork quite easily, and I would have preferred a more even ratio of meat to greens. However, I have to admit that this was, for a Michelin star restaurant chain, quite cheap eats, given the fact that I had spent a huge amount of money in several other establishments. Both my meals were under 60 Ringgit (Under INR 1200/-) which is quite good value for money.