Shanghai, China / May 20, 2010 / dinner
Winederlust Rating (details below): 8 out of 10 / Winederlust Worthy: Yes
We couldn’t leave Shanghai without sampling one of the city’s specialties, xiaolong bao, or soup dumplings. We heard from locals and by researching online that Din Tai Fung was one of the best places to try the dumplings, despite being a Taiwanese chain located in a mall (though, to be fair, it is a “restaurant mall” called Xin Tiandi with packed place after place to eat).
The atmosphere was bright and cafeteria-like, a sign that the people waiting to eat dumplings were there solely for the food. Luckily we arrived on the early side, around 6:30pm, and only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table (though when we left an hour later, the wait looked much, much longer!).
We started with two glasses of a Chinese wine, Great Wall cabernet sauvignon, a very bright and sweet drink with absolutely no finish. Since our server never did bring the water we ordered, the wine at least quenched our thirst during the meal.
Then we dove right into our reason for coming — the soup dumplings. Our first order of five steamed pork and Shanghai crab meat dumplings were tasty and extremely juicy, their delicate, thin skin encasing rich and flavorful meat. We took a small bite out of the dough and sucked out the juice before gobbling them down. We wished we’d ordered more.
The steamed vegetarian bun was also yummy — fluffy, slightly sweet dough stuffed with a savory mixture of spinach, tiny chunks of tofu, and garlic.
We interrupted the dough fest with an order of sauteed morning glory with garlic. We hadn’t heard of this veggie before, but apparently it’s also known as water spinach or swamp cabbage. Though none of these names sound very appetizing, the green was actually really good — a mild green with a nice crunch and a little spice from the garlic and a touch of chili pepper.
Our final dish was also the best of the evening — chicken liver soup dumplings. The tender chicken liver melted in our mouths when we took a bite of the dough.
– by Liz Humphreys, Winederlust Eater in Chief
Winederlust Rating Details (out of 10):
Food: 9.0 (preparation, presentation & taste)
Wine: 7.0 (selection, recommendations, pairings & taste)
Service: 8.0 (helpfulness, attentiveness, knowledge & pacing)
Place: 7.5 (location, view, decor & vibe)
Price Range: $-$$ (Cheap to Moderate)
Din Tai Fung / Xin Tiandi Restaurant Mall, 123 Xingye Lu, South Block, House 6, 2nd Floor, Unit 11A
Direct Line: (021) 6385-8378
Open Sunday to Thursday 10am-12am and Friday and Saturday 10am-1am; no reservations, so be prepared to wait.