Din Tai Fung, Westfield Miranda

Everyone’s favourite Taiwanese dumpling place Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) opened yet another branch in Sydney. We previously visited one in Hong Kong, and later at Central Park after discovering for the first time that the franchise existed in Australia (yeah, we know). We’d been talking about trying this new Westfield Miranda branch, and tonight was finally the night. It’s dumpling time!

Guarded by their giant dumpling head mascot, the entrance to the two-level restaurant is on level 2 of the Westfield mall. Even though most of the shops around it were already closed, at 6 pm this Saturday night, quite a few tables were already occupied by couples, families and groups, and the place only got busier as the night progressed. We sat upstairs and after going through the same full menu as the one we got from Central Park, handed the waiter our paper order form.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Dan Dan Noodles
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Dan Dan Noodles ($11.80)

The food didn’t take very long, and first up was our Dan Dan Noodles ($11.80). Traditional Sichuan dan dan noodles are meant to be numbingly spicy; while the texture of the one we got tonight was great, all we could taste from the noodles was peanut sauce, which I didn’t even realise was a common ingredient for certain variations of the dish. Richard quipped that this is the “Shire version” for you (and it’s okay for him to say that because he’s from there tongue ); whatever this is, it had to be one of the more disappointing soup base I’ve tried yet.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Prawns with Pineapple
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Prawns with Pineapple ($22.80)

Prawns with Pineapple ($22.80) was very mayonnaise-y and therefore delicious because anything covered in mayonnaise is delicious, but it could really use far less of the sauce. I also didn’t quite taste the pineapple in it.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons ($10.80)
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Xiao Long Bao
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Xiao Long Bao ($12.80 for 8 pieces)
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Vegetable and Pork Jiaozi
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Vegetable and Pork Jiao Zi ($10.80)

Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons ($10.80), Xiao Long Boa ($12.80 for 8 pieces), and Vegetable & Pork Jiao Zi ($10.80) are pretty much our staple order. They initially sent us the non-spicy version of the wontons, but quickly fixed it after we pointed out the error. This time, the broth was at least detectably spicy, and all the dumplings lived up to my expectations.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Crispy Fried Chicken with Chilli
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Crispy Fried Chicken with Chilli ($16.80)

After the zero-heat dan dan noodles and slightly spicy wontons, it really was a gamble whether the Crispy Fried Chicken with Chilli ($16.80) would be hot enough. Not for me (but nothing is), but the deep fried chicken was moderately crispy and appropriately savoury. I got my chilli kick out of chewing on a pepper — literally.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Chocolate Ice Cream
Chocolate Ice Cream
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Black Sesame Bun Inside
Steamed Mini Black Sesame Bun (inside)

Comparing to Central Park, Richard and I both independently agreed that our dinner tonight at the Westfield Miranda branch was the better experience. I would quite happily return, but probably not to order any of the Shire-spicy noodles again. wink

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung, Central Park, Chippendale

I love dumplings. If there were no health repercussions, I could quite possibly literally eat hundreds of steamed or boiled dumplings every day. During our July trip in Hong Kong, we went to a dumpling place, Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), to discover that they had branches in Sydney. We decided that since I love dumplings so much and Richard also really liked a chicken dish there, Din Tai Fung back in Sydney would make quite a nice half-year anniversary dinner for us.

It’s finally our anniversary night. We researched ahead to find the best Sydney branch for us, all the while wondering how neither of us could have not heard of this famous dumpling place. There are 6 Sydney branches at the time of writing, but only George Street (CBD) and Central Park seemed to have the full menu available. We were also told that the George Street branch was always super packed, so Din Tai Fung, Central Park dinner for us it was!

I was slightly worried about not being able to get a table at the Central Park branch in the beginning what with it being so close to a university, but then I remembered that it’s Friday today and students never go to classes on Fridays. Yep. Nice and empty at 6 pm. A staff quickly attended to us, shielded my jacket and handbag (Wait, exactly how messy is this going to be?) and took our order.

We got the Drunken Chicken ($10.80), Shrimp and Pork Wonton ($10.80), Taiwanese Specialty Fried Pork Chop ($10.80), Xiao Long Bao (8 pieces for $12.80), Shrimp and Pork Jiao Ze ($11.80) and Pork Buns (2 for $5.50). We looked up and down but none of the chicken dishes seemed to be the one Richard liked from the Hong Kong branch. Oh well.

Din Tai Fung, Central Park
Din Tai Fung, Central Park: Xiao Long Bao (top left), Taiwanese Fried Pork Chop (middle top), Drunken Chicken (middle bottom), Shrimp and Pork Wonton (bottom left)

The dishes came quickly; the portions were quite small but Richard wasn’t starving. Being such a dumpling lover, it wasn’t surprising that my favourites were the xiao long bao and wontons. The rest of the dishes was mostly good, too; the drunken chicken was tender and the jiao ze weren’t greasy. The very thin fried pork chop didn’t quite taste like pork to us, though, and had an interesting spice on it, but I guess the keywords were “Taiwanese Specialty”. I wasn’t anywhere full after the first round and was going to order more, but we got very thirsty very quickly and I just wanted to drink water.

I love dumplings, and I can’t really fault Din Tai Fung at Central Park, but there must be MSG-free alternatives other than my ugly homemade ones out there!

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon