Tuesday 13 April 2010

Food and Restaurant: Din Tai Fung

I would never expect a Taiwanese company can do Shanghai cuisine so well! When I said "so well", I don't mean simply the taste, but every single aspect of the dining experience.

In the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, up on the 3rd floor of Silvercord on Canton Road, is Din Tai Fung. The history of the restaurant can be traced back to 1969 when it was founded in Taiwan by a man called Bingyi Yang from Shanxi, China. Right now, there are two branches in Hong Kong, including another one in Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay.

Most of the time, when people go to a place to dine, they will first talk about how good the food is, but whenever someone mentions about Din Tai Fung, they will talk about the service first. Wouldn't it be strange to talk about the service first before the food quality? I still think so, but there must be an explanation for this. Either 1) the service is really outstanding, or 2) most people have been ill-treated when dining in other restaurants. And my guess is, 1) and 2).

Before you get to enter the restaurant, there are helpful staff at the counter offering you a waiting ticket as well as a order sheet on a plastic holder, a pencil and a colour printed menu, so that while you are waiting with the other 50 over diners outside the restaurant, you won't waste any more time thinking what to eat after you are seated. The place is so crowded that it makes the restaurant right opposite seem "business-less".

I have dined here thrice and every time I go, I get managers, waiters, waitresses, janitors bowing before me and greeting me as I walk in -- no matter what they are doing, making me feel like a king. As soon as you are seated, the staff will confirm with you about your orders and your food comes as quickly as 5 minutes. Sometimes so fast that all your dishes arrive at the same time, except the dessert which they will ask for your permission to delay the delivery after you have finished the main courses.

If you need to carry out some business in the washroom, the janitor will greet you as you enter, help you with the water tap and towels, and wish you well on the way out using Mandarin. Now, you must be thinking about 5 Stars hotels.

As for food, basically, you can order almost anything and you can guarantee that they are at their finest. If you want to know my picks, then here they are: drunken chicken, Shanghai steamed pork dumplings, Shanghai steamed crab meat and pork dumplings, noodles mixed with sesame and peanut sauce and mini steamed mashed black sesame buns.

Detailed descriptions below:

Drunken Chicken
Crunchy skin, tender smooth succulent white meat soaked in just the right amount of Shaoxing wine. Nicely cut up and brilliantly presented.

Shanghai steamed crab meat and pork dumplings
Unbelievably generous orange roe with crab meat and pork mixed together, embraced by hot crab soup and extremely thin yet elastic dumpling skins!! This is absolutely top-notch! Even Wang Jia Sha and Crystal Jade have to surrender the title willingly.

Black Sesame Buns
Black sesame, I love it! Adequately sweetened crunchy sesames mashed inside mini-buns. Looks beautiful, tastes brilliant! Personal favourite, must eat every time I go.

Noodles mixed with sesame and peanut sauce
Simple dull looking dish yet incredulously savoury. Slightly glutinous sesame and peanut sauce adhered to the surface of the noodles, allowing every bite to come with the rich taste of sesame and peanut.

Not my picks:

Drunken Ducks' Tongues
Nothing wrong with this dish, just that I am not a fan of ducks' tongues. But surely crunchy enough. Need 2 ducks' tongues lovers to finish the whole plate. Best if you love some French kisses with the ducks.

For display, not on the menu
Cute, but poorly-treated. Dirty water, filter, infected fish fins. Restaurant needs to work on keeping them fit. They are one reason I want to return again.

One dinner usually costs around HK$300+ for 2 people. And since my picks are so good, I haven't got enough room in my stomach to try other dishes yet. More update if I try others next time.

Average waiting time: 40 minutes. Go look around the shops while waiting. H & M is just downstairs.

Delicious Rating: 9 / 10

tender -- (of meat or vegetables) easy to cut or chew (= crush with the teeth)
succulent -- Succulent food is pleasantly juicy
roe -- fish eggs, which are eaten as food
embrace -- [I or T] literary to hold someone tightly with both arms to express love, liking or sympathy, or when greeting or leaving someone
elastic -- describes material that is able to stretch and be returned to its original shape or size
top-notch -- excellent
incredulous -- not wanting or not able to believe something, and usually showing this
savoury --  pleasing to the sense of taste especially by reason of effective seasoning
glutinous -- sticky
adhere to -- to stick firmly