Wednesday 4/1/2015, Dinner at Din Tai Fung
This well-reputed dim sum restaurant chain has locations around the world, but it is originally from Taipei. A couple business trips took me to Taipei where we stayed right across the street from the Taipei 101, which housed a Din Tai Fung and is just down the road from the very first location. My colleagues made a point to go here every visit and for good reason. You can’t get better XiaoLongBao. The windows to the kitchen show how precisely the whole crew of cooks make each one – scales for in process controls and exactly 19 folds on the twisted off top made with highly trained, adept, and crazy fast fingers. An employee will give you the run-down if they find you at the window / taking pictures. They need the whole crew to keep up with demand. Our group of 4 ordered about 100 dumplings total each time and selected the following items over 2 separate visits:
- Spicy Pickled Cucumber
- Pork XiaoLongBao
- Crab Roe and Pork XiaoLongBao
- Chicken XiaoLongBao
- Green Squash and Shrimp XiaoLongBao
- Shrimp and Pork Pot Stickers
- Steamed Shrimp and Pork Dumplings
- Steamed Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings
- Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai
- Vegetarian Mushroom Buns
- Red Bean Buns
- Mini Red Bean Buns
- Mini Sesame Buns
- Stir-Fried Pea Shoots
- Veggie Fried Brown Rice
- Noodles with House Special Spicy Sauce
- Shrimp and Pork Wontons with House Special Spicy Sauce
- Steamed Taro XiaoLongBao
- … and plenty of Taiwanese beer!
The cucumber and pea shoots were nice vegetable sides. The potstickers were a bit strange – crunchy and cooked connected in a row. An interesting thing to try. The mini sesame and red bean buns were a pleasant dessert if you need something sweet to end the meal. Definitely go mini, since you won’t have much room left! The fried rice was a nice filler. Anything with the House Special Spicy Sauce is pretty darn delicious. Otherwise, don’t waste your time on anything except the pork XiaoLongBao. I could easily eat multiple orders of 10 in one sitting. Seriously though – if I had to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life, these dumplings would be high on my list. The skins are delicate and thin, the soup is packed with flavor, and they have the perfect ratio of wrapper to soup to filling. Well worth the wait and definitely lives up to the reputation.
Thursday 4/2/2015, Lunch Catering from MOS burger
Our Taiwanese business partners brought in a variety of lunches for us, but they seemed most proud of MOS Burger, their spin on American fast food. Over the course of my stays, I sampled the Australian Wagyu Beef Rice Burger with Egg, MOS Chicken Nuggets, French fries, and the Matcha Latte. Definitely heavily greased/fried, I actually enjoyed the rice burger. I prefer my matcha sans milk and sugar, though. Overall, only the chicken nuggets and fries resembled anything American to me. It was an interesting exploration of the Taiwanese perception of our food.