Xiao long bao master
|Crab and pork xiao long bao|
Din Tai Fung, the global dumpling restaurant chain has finally landed in the UK. The business is planning to open more than 10 restaurants in the UK, and it selected Covent Garden as its first launch site. Din Tai Fung is easily the hottest opening in 2018, buzzing with social media mentions and already visited by many foodies, food critics, and the local Asian communities. If you have been walking past Henrietta Street, you would see mad long queues every day, thanks to the media hype and the no booking policy of the restaurant. Din Tai Fung is known for its soup dumpling (Xiao long bao) and other classic Taiwanese items, such as the red braised beef noodles.
|Wood ear mushrooms and honey & vinegar short ribs|
|Prawn and pork jiao zi|
For my lunchtime visit, I ordered a mixture of items from its a la carte menu. The signature crab roe xiao long bao was fabulous, it was loaded with bags of salty and seafood umami aroma from the crab, and the soup filling was very flavorsome. The pork and prawn wontons, tossed in a chicken broth were also enjoyable, the pastry skill was excellent, not too thick or thin. The red braised beef noodle, which is perhaps the most famous Taiwanese dish, was very comforting. The noodles were smooth and the beef brisket was rich in taste, but I felt it could have been a touch more tender. The weak dish without a doubt was the steamed chicken bun, nothing wrong with the filling, but the bun was far too dense.
|Prawn and pork wontons tossed in chicken broth|
|Steamed chicken buns|
|Red beef noodles|
|Pork chop and dry noodles|
Overall, the quality of the food is not a great deal in difference vs Din Tai Fung elsewhere. The service was a lot better than its HK joint (which had a Michelin star) but at a much higher price. The average cost per person is about £30-£35, you can have a nice set lunch in a quality fine dining restaurant elsewhere, such as Hakkasan. The brand power of Din Tai Fung, combining with the launch element is making it extremely popular right now. This actually reminds me of Five Guys and Shack Shack when it first arrived in the UK, and now becoming just another high street casual dining chain. Looking at Din Tai Fung's business in the US and Asia, this might well be the way going forward for the brand in the UK.
What I paid
£37 with soft drink
Average cost without drinks and services:
5 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8PT