If you’re dotty for dumplings, this place will have you reaching for the chopsticks once more. Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung has brought their secret weapon to London: the world’s best dumplings. With a restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden, and a second spot due to open in Selfridges on January 31, they’ve made a beeline for the most desirable addresses in town – and wherever Din Tai Fung goes, the crowds usually follow…
I don’t use the phrase ‘World’s Best Dumplings’ idly, by the way. Their pork xiao long bao – that’s pork dumplings, for those who don’t speak Mandarin – have won praise and accolades at the original Taiwan site, and with over 160 restaurants across the world Din Tai Fung are spreading the love far and wide. More locally, they’ve captured the UK’s coveted Golden ChopSticks Award for the best dumplings in the country for two years running, which is quite the feat.
Upon opening, Din Tai Fung pretty much instantly became one of the most-hyped Covent Garden restaurants, and their Selfridges restaurant is likely to be equally in-demand. Oh, and if you’re thinking “ugh, chain restaurant”, rest assured. Two of their locations have earned Michelin stars, and the New York Times once named their original restaurant one of the world’s ten best.
Din Tai Fung’s dumplings are nothing less than an art form. Each one is folded eighteen times, and will be prepared by no fewer than six chefs before it reaches your plate. A hell of a lot of effort for something that’s the size of a golf ball, but it seems to work for them.
Aside from the xiao long bao (if you can turn them down, of course), the restaurant serves a range of steamed buns, vegetarian jiao zi, dan dan noodles, Oriental salads, and fried rice dishes. The dessert menu was once dominated by the red bean xiao long bao with chocolate lava, but you shouldn’t skip the Salted Egg Yolk Custard Lava Buns. A mouthful in every sense of the word, these bad boys boast a cinematic gooeyness that makes them an audience favourite.
Knowing their London audience a little too well, the Covent Garden branch of Din Tai Fung was the first in the world to have an in-house cocktail bar. There’s a nice range of cocktails available, inspired by Din Tai Fung’s origins in Taiwan, which includes a bubble tea-inspired cocktail with bursting passion fruit bubbles. Cocktails, buns, and world-class xiao long bao: there’s no need to be down in the dumplings about a lack of choice here!
Also published on Medium.