644 George Street, Sydney CBD
Din Tai Fung is one of thoses places that I keep meaning to try but other things get in the way. Such as queues. Or alternative destinations. Or being full at the wrong time. I had it tagged as a spot to try with Kat when I go to Sydney in November (yes, I do plan things THAT far in advance) but since Marc and I were staying in World Square, it made sense to simply go downstairs and have lunch there. Especially since we were mildly hungover and starving and didn't want to travel too far for food.
We arrived around noon which I suppose is earlyish for lunch. It was getting busy but in no way packed and we got a table right away.
I had a quick look through the menu. We were definitely going to try the steamed pork dumplings, after all that's what this place is famous for. We also ordered a rice dish and noodle dish to fill us up.
Avocado chocolate swirl and mango tango smoothies
I am a freak when it comes to avocado so when I saw chocolate and avocado smoothie on the menu, I knew I had to try it. It was creamy with a distinct avocado flavor and not too sweet. I have tried avocado smoothies without the chocolate and even though it wasn't bad with chocolate, I don't think it added to it and I would prefer plain avocado. But then again, that might just be me because I'm weird and possible an avocado purist.
Marc went with the mango smoothie and his comments were "it's good" and "it's mangoey". Did I mention already that we were hung over?
Xiao long bao - steamed pork dumplings
Luckily for our hungry selves, the food didn't take long to arrive at all. The dumplings came first. I knew on appearance that they would be good. The wrapper is so thin you can practically see the soup waiting to burst out under the surface.
Close-up of dumpling
I am a xiao long bao (that's what these dumplings are officially called) connoisseur who's been forced to lower standards based on how poor the Brisbane offerings are. These are not only good by my 'reduced' standards but good even compared with what I've had in Shanghai. It's right up there with the best of it. The filling has a great texture with just the right amount of ginger flavor, the wrapper is thin and steamed to perfection (no glugginess) and there is the all-important abundance of soup that's not oily. Ticks in all the boxes.
Cha Jiang noodle - with minced pork
I wasn't nearly was impressed with the noodles. They reminded of Asian food court standard noodles with a boring packet flavoring and mushy mince on top. Brutal, I know but it really isn't in the same league as the dumplings. I'm not talking about how edible the dishes are. I mean, the noodles weren't revolting. I'm talking about how easy it is to get something better. For the dumplings, I'd say in Australia it's near impossible. For the noodles, I could get better in almost any Asian eatery I walk into.
Fried rice - with fried pork chop
The pork and rice were a similar story. The pork cutlet tasted good. It was actually a lot more tender than I expected. Overall though, I couldn't say there was anything outstanding about it. I have a soft spot for eggy fried rice though so I'd still be happy to eat a bowl of that.
In my opinion, the hype over Din Tai Fung is justified for the dumplings alone. The other dishes were boring but I thought the xiao long bao were magical and I'd be happy to polish off a dozen of those. What I liked was that the restaurant has a clean and modern decor and the staff are efficient and friendly (unlike in lots of other Asian eateries).