Tuesday, February 8, 2011


During World Square’s Chinese New Year festivities (which started last week), I was treated to lunch at one of my favourites – Din Tai Fung and dumplings galore.

Lion dancers outside Din Tai Fung, World Square, George Street, Sydney
Following a bit of lion hunting throughout the open air shopping centre, the Jin Wu Koon lion dance troupe made its way into DTF and all throughout inside too, even ‘nuzzling’ a couple of customers in the act. They decimated an entire cabbage at the entrance, lovingly sharing it while taking their lucky red packets from the owners.

Lion dancers inside Din Tai Fung

Quite the lunch crowd
The lunch crowd lapped it up as much as the famed dumplings, with iPhones and cameras all out in force. The lions left a festive and excitable air to lunch, which in our case was sort of a set banquet – which I didn’t even realise DTF offered until now.

Lychee and mint juice
Cold drinks were completely necessary on this true summer's day, and the lychee and mint 'juice' was certainly appropriate. A slushy blend of mint, lychee and ice produces the pale green cooler, which was a little too syrupy for my liking but handy, nonetheless, to wash down some of the spicy offerings.

Avocado juice
Simon's avocado 'juice' was interesting to look at, ringed with chocolate syrup. I can't say I was a fan of the creamy, yellow-green drink, though it might work as a dessert if not for the overpowering, generic chocolate sauce.

Hot and sour soup
First dish to hit the lazy susan on our table was the hot and sour soup, bearable on the scorching day only due to the air conditiong inside. The sourness of the soup comes through first with a mellow heat following. I enjoy trawling through my bowl to find treasues in the soup, like stirips of noodle-like pork, tofu and mushroom.

Pork and prawn wonton with spicy sauce
One of my definite menu favourites are the pork and prawn wonton, served in a chilli-spiked soy sauce that also has a bit of tartness to it.

The bundles of minced pork and whole bits of prawn are wrapped in a silky skin that's a tad more al dente than any of the steamed dumpling casings. I adore the texture as well as the slow-building heat from the sauce.

DTF's vegetarian delight
I adore this stuff and always start with it - when dining for two, one plate is never enough. Juliennes of seaweed and dried tofu mix it with bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles in a lightly spiced sesame dressing - quite delightful indeed.

I'd never before even noticed calamari on the menu, but here it was. Lightly battered and crumbed rings of nearly tender squid were served with a gloopy tartare sauce, though I felt a pang for lemon.

Pork xiao long bao
The revered xiao long bao are the first dumplings to arrive, still steaming and picture-perfect in their many pleats. Despite the dangers of boiling hot soup, these are best eaten hot and I like them with vinegar sauce and a dash of the roasted chilli oil.

I'm still yet to find any xiao long bao to rival DTF's in terms of the delicate pastry or full-flavoured broth within. Sharing a steamer basket among however many people, I think it always leaves me wanting just one more.

Vegetarian jiao zi
The vegetarians among us relished the steamed vegetarian jiao zi, although the rest may have been a little underwhelmed by the subtles flavours and general lack of soupiness. But the spinach, mushroom and vermicelli filling does have a clean and clear flavour profile that can be refreshing.

Crab meat xiao long bao
My first try of the crab versions of the xiao long bao, which apparently contains both crab meat and crab roe in the minced pork filling. Unfortunately, the crustacean was lost on me other than a slight fishiness. At a premium price, I think I'd better stick to the plain pork XLBs.

Pork and prawn shao mai dumplings
Another first; in fact, lust at first sight. The saggy bottoms contrasted with the stunning, perfectly formed prawn tops. The shao mai have thicker skins than the XLBs to hold what seems to be a coarser filling and more soup. They're divine, spilling their soup (hopefully onto your spoon) and offering a substantial and sweet couple of bites.

Vegetarian sesame noodles
Even the perfectionist presentation of the sesame noodles couldn't tempt me as I'd reached lunch eating capacity - well, for carbs anyway. And the mains were only starting to arrive.

The noodles' sauce is meant to be a creamy peanut and sesame sauce, which sounds like it could be on the wealthy side of rich.

Crumbed chicken fillet
There was controversy as to whether this was the pork or chicken - though it resembled the chicken fillet on the menu, the flavour and texture even were porky. Nonetheless, the crackling like batter was excitement alone, crunchy and heavily seasoned, probably lovely with rice.

Jumbo prawns with pineapple
I couldn't resist a sample of the curious prawns with pineapple, garnished with pineapple and a glace cherry like a throwback to an era about four decades ago. The battered and deep fried jumbo prawns were mixed with pineapple bits and a pineapple scented mayonnaise.

This was surprisingly good, for the pineapple lover I am, with the sweetness and slight acidity of the fruit matching well with the savoury, firm prawn.

Silken tofu with pork floss and century egg
The last dish that came out before I had to dash off (without dessert - see Simon's post for sweets) was the rather photogenic silken tofu, topped with a mop of pork floss and sliced sixths of a blue-green century egg, or pei dan.

From past experiences, I know that this is beautiful tofu like edible silk. The pork floss adds flavour and texture, oddly enough. The century eggs are pretty and taste like - well, you decide.

And with that lunch feast, Chinese New Year is well upon us and so are the festivities. Today, from 12pm, is the sampling of DTF's XLBs in the main square of World Square (just beside the stairs that do up to DTF) - grab a soupy pork dumpling if you're nearby for some CNY happiness.

Thanks to PPR, World Square and Din Tai Fung for fun start to last week's Chinese New Year celebrations.

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon


MelbaToast said...

Aren't those shao mai amazing! I just love them. I love DTF too - I think they are the best dumplings I've ever had.
Is the banquet available all the time? I suppose you need a bit group for it.

Your photos are looking great too.

OohLookBel said...

DTF have the best-looking dumplings ever - so neat. Sounds like you had a fab and celebratory lunch for new year.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ahh dumpling love! And no better time than during CNY!

john@heneedsfood said...

It's bern way too long. I need to get back to DTF soon. The dumplings are calling

joey@FoodiePop said...

I'm salivating at the dumpling goodness ....

Tina said...

Hi MelbaToast - I imagine so, as they're all components from the regular menu :) The shao mai are SO good!

Hi Bel - Hope you had a great one too ;)

Hi Lorraine - Dumpling love anytime!

Hi John - Yes, they have quite the distinct siren song, don't they?

Hi joey - I ca;t get enough of them :)

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

I haven't been to DTF yet - and a visit is long overdue after seeing this wonderful spread - They bf has returned from hong kong with quite a dumpling attiction after trying DTF over there! what a great way to kick off Chinese New Year!

Tina said...

Hi Gianna - Oh you must. I'd love to hear your comparison to the one in HK :)

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Awww jealous! Am still yet to visit DTF. Lurve lurve dumplings!

Tina said...

Hi Angie - DTF is great for dumppling lurve... ;)

skye@wildsugar said...

Loving the pork and prawn dumplings... i could honestly east them all day. Agree re avocado drink possibly being better as a dessert. It makes the most wonderful rich, beautifully textured and nutritional ice cream and desserts. thanks :)

Tina said...

Hi Skye - I could live on dumplings too ;)


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