DIN TAI FUNG, MELBOURNE – A FIRST LOOK

Welcome to Melbourne, Din Tai Fung! (affectionately known as DTF) Unless you reside under a rock, DTF’s signature xiao long baos have arrived at the Emporium. Originating from Taiwan, the iconic dumpling chain has gathered fans worldwide, opening franchises globally. Sydney was lucky enough to secure the first Australian location. With a creative menu and world-famous dumplings, it’s easy to see why the brand has gathered substantial fanfare.

THE KITCHEN

The art of making the perfect Xiao Long Bao is a precise process. Picking up these soupy parcels of deliciousness will reveal a paper-thin translucent skin, constructed with meticulous detail (eighteen folds more or less). It’s that Asian precision that has made this dumpling chain world-famous. That silky smooth skin, stuffed with piping hot soup and premium minced pork, it’s worth every single calorie.The secret to the soup? It’s actually solidified jelly that melts at steaming temperatures.

HE DISHES

Admittedly, it’s not all about Xiao Long Bao. The Truffle Pork dumplings (OMGAwsh truffle) will satisfy the gourmands. A must order for truffle lovers. The pineapple prawns, dressed in creamy mayonnaise and pineapple were an ideal balance of sweet and savoury. The mango shrimp roll arrived with big chunks of fresh mango encased in a crunchy crumb. Unfortunately, the crab roe dumplings sold out, but DFT’s version of soupy Shao Mao were a worthy replacement.

HE VERDICT

Overall Verdict? It’s busy, incredibly busy. Melbournians, we love to eat. We love to queue. Did I mention that we love to queue? Without a doubt, I expected this chain to explode with popularity and explode it did… Wait times on opening night were 45 minutes. Wait times on the second opening night were 1.5 -2 hours. Despite a seating capacity of 235, these numbers are pretty mind-blowing. It seems the whole of Melbourne are Din Tai Fung devotees. There was so much more we wanted to taste, but alas, we’ve only got one stomach. In comparison, the international chains have a slight edge, but they’re still better than anything you can find in Melbourne. Consider the following:

  • There are no bookings;
  • If you find queues abhorrent, wait for the hype to die down (it’ll be awhile);
  • Lunch times on weekdays are less busy;
  • To beat the queues, arrive before opening time (11:00 -11:30 am) and before the after work crowd;
  • The rainbow gems are limited in stock (arrive earlier during the day for a taste);
  • Complete the crossword for a free Mango pudding;
  • Collect a buzzer from front-of-desk, this will vibrate when your table is ready. Tick off the menu whilst you wait, now standby for those funky vibrations.

Final words – Asian franchises are known for horrid service, but the staff at DTF exceeded expectations. Dealing with massive crowds, whilst remaining courteous and patient was beyond impressive. Big kudos to the DTF team. Please also note, that Hungrycookie doesn’t normally queue, but the first DTF in Melbourne is a worthy exception.

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