When things are good, there's always that hankering to return: to good times, good holidays, good meals and restaurants, good in general. So while I dream away wishing certain revisits, we also happen to revisit the quick and cheerful dumpling heaven that is Din Tai Fung.
It's a bit later in the evening than my last visit so there are waiting groups and couples loitering out the front. The wait is short for our small group especially as we're sharing one end of one of their long wooden tables. The wait accompanied with their checklist menu means we're pretty much ready to go as soon as we sit at the table.
And in an incredibly considerate and innovative move, the waiters bring a fold-out 'bag holder' that resembles a canvas laundry basket for placement of our decidedly large handbags. Not only that, it's covered with a sheet of red fabric which they also have fashioned into chair covers to protect the jackets on the back of the chairs. Isn't that nice? Although it makes me question their waiter/waitressing skills a little but I'm appreciative nonetheless.
On ordering we have a few standard, must-order items and then a few newbies for me, kicking off firstly with a few drinks.
A quick taste of the strawberry drink reveals sickly sweet cordial-ness which delights the non-drinker. The Tsing Tao is not quite as likeable as the Taiwan beer of previous occasions and rather unmemorable amid the night of conversation and perhaps the three Kirin schooners beforehand.
Starting with a few appetisers I still adore the crisp cucumber salad with its sour burst and delicate chilli spice - the perfect pickle snack to whet the appetite.
I'm not much a fan of Chinese century eggs - things that colour usually means something is off, although fans of the old eggs would wholeheartedly disagree. I am, however, a fan of the tofu which is as promised silky smooth. In one word it tastes pure, with the sauce and pork floss (and clumps) adding flavoursome sweetness.
The next item seems more a full, proper dish rather than an appetiser but one that I'll happy order and devour in next revisits. The wonton sit in a vinegary, soy sauce sprinkled with possibly dried chilli and shallots. The wonton themselves are a standout: slippery smooth skins of an extraordinarily satisfying al dente texture filled with chunky pork mince and prawn pieces. The dish is whole and entire in flavour, not needing a single a drop of other condiments.
The steamed pork xiao long bao are one of the must-order dishes and they don't disappoint. Their consistency and uniformity are astounding; their textural variety and flavour making them extremely moreish.
The deeply coloured braised beef soup promises meaty richness, although admittedly less than what the its hue seems to indicate. The soup was a lovely, savoury mouthful of complex flavours with the spinach leaves absorbing all the goodness. The large pieces of beef were mostly fall-apart tender and enhanced by dips into soy sauce and chilli oil.
After all the food I'm still tempted by the desserts on offer although I 'd completely overlooked their warm desserts. The mango pudding with 'fresh' mango pieces is unavailable so it's the normal mango pudding ordered. It's nothing special, unfortunately, but at least it'll remind me to go for the warm desserts for next time.
As we leave we see dumpling makers conscientiously making loads more, even though there have ceased to be any waiting crowds. There's always the late night diners I suppose, so I will also have to remind myself of a late night revisit some time soon. There's always time and space for revisiting the good.