You never forget the first time you tried Din Tai Fung.
My first time was in 2009 during a Louis Vuitton junket in Taiwan.
Louis Vuitton only takes us to good restaurants, so the fact that we were brought there seemed like a good sign.
Prior to this, I had never heard of xiao long bao.
“They are small miracles—plump, round spheres, soft yet firm to the touch, delicately fragranced. When you pop one into your mouth, it bursts into a mouthful of broth, transforming the filling of meat and aromatics into a loose, savory purée that melts away like pork-scented air,” wrote Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic of the Los Angeles Times, about Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao.
Here’s a picture of the instruction guide we were given in Taiwan.
That was in June 2009. A month later I was back with Jeroen—at Din Tai Fung in Singapore
Every time we travel and see a Din Tai Fung, we try to eat there. This was in Hong Kong, 2010.
With all the food concepts coming to Manila, it was only a matter of time before Din Tai Fung hit our shores.
Last December 8, Din Tai Fung finally opened its first restaurant in the Philippines at SM Megamall’s Fashion Hall.
Luckily, we know the owners and got invited to the grand opening. The first thing you’ll see is a window up front where you can watch the dumpling makers at work.
We were greeted by Taiwanese and Filipino hostesses who lined the entrance along with tons of security guards.
“The President must be here,” Grace said as we were led inside the huge restaurant.
True enough, there he was, seated with The Moment Group’s Eliza Antonio, Presidential candidate Mar Roxas, and Manila Economic Cooperation Office director, Manny Dimaculangan, who helped bring Din Tai Fung to the Philippines.
It’s no secret that Din Tai Fung (DTF) is one of the most difficult franchises to acquire.
According Forbes magazine, Din Tai Fung receives and rejects as many as 20 letters a week from prospective franchisees.
Din Tai Fung in the Philippines is owned by the Moment Group, which owns numerous restaurants such as Manam, Linguini Fini Manila, Ooma, and Mecha Uma, among others. The group’s founding members are Eliza Antonino, Abba Napa, and Jon Syjuco.
As part of the requirements, the team flew to Taiwan for the required six-month training in both culinary technique and customer service, working both the kitchen and the floor.
Eliza recalls the time she spent in Taiwan: “We trained there for six whole months. All 20 of us were on the floor, in the front and the back of the kitchen, working 12-hour shifts. It was gruelling, but it was the most exciting time of my life. I’d never learned so much in such a short span of time.”
Salted fish fried rice
and the prawns with salted egg yolk are to die for!
Here’s what I want to come back for: chicken wings in shrimp paste
Cold chicken with scallions
Crab roe and pork xiao long bao
Crispy shrimp and pork wonton
Deep Fried Chicken and Shrimp Spring Roll
Fried Rice with Sweet Garlic and Scallions
Shrimp Fried Rice
Steamed Shrimp and Pork Xiao Mai
Stir-fried Chinese Kangkong
Wait. There’s more. View the menu HERE.
The thing is, it’s going to be hard to go back because the lines are going to be crazy.
Founded by Bingyi Yang in the late 1950s, Din Tai Fung started as a shop selling cooking oil in Taiwan.
In the ’70s, Mr. Yang and his wife started selling xiao long bao, or steamed soup-filled dumplings. When it developed a strong following, the store transitioned into a full-service restaurant.
Since then, Din Tai Fung has accumulated numerous accolades, including the distinction of being hailed by The New York Times as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world in 1993 and number one on The Daily Meal’s “101 Best Restaurants in Asia” list in 2013.
To top it all off, a Michelin star has been awarded to Din Tai Fung’s Hong Kong branch for five consecutive years since 2010.
Today, Din Tai Fung is known for serving the most widely recognized xiao long bao in the world, with 119 branches in 14 countries—including the US, Australia, Japan, Dubai, and now, the Philippines.
To know more, go to http://dintaifungph.com