Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Din Tai Fung

You know you're lucky when your favorite restaurants are also cheap date locations. I am one of these people who (or perhaps Tokyo is one of these cities where) to satisfy my tummy, you don't need a lotta munny. Din Tai Fung, originally from Taipei, is one of those joints. Heck, I've already been there twice this year! Unfortunately neither times were with a date. But anyway...

What is Din Tai Fung? It's where they serve the most delicious shoronpo in the world. The store made its international debut over 10 years ago, unveiling its flagship store within Shinjuku Takashimaya. What was then a small eatery tucked between a gift shop selling soap, and some kitchenware pots has since expanded to dozens of stores across Japan, China and the US.

Amazingly, a 30 minute wait is still considered relatively short at many of these locations today. The little steamed sacs of juicy minced pork are full of clear, rich broth ; Place a few thin strands of flavored shredded ginger on top and... Well. That's a sure way to woo me, and girlfrien' I'm not even tryii' to sound Chinese (snap snap).

First-timers, fret not. Although eating these delicate morsels of BLISS might sound complicated (soup? pork sacs? I don't get it), there is a friendly laminated illustrated guide that explains these steps on each table.

Pour soy sauce vinegar (they already mixed them up for you) onto your small dish of ginger strips.

As soon as steaming hot shoronpo are brought to you, gently pick one up by the pinched area of skin on top (where the dough overlaps), and crate it over to your ceramic spoon. Note: The skin of these dumplings is very thin, so if you are too rough or let the dumpling cool, it will stick to the bottom of the steamer and rip, spilling the precious, precious soup.

By now you will notice that I am completely not following The Friendly Laminated Guide For How To Eat Shoronpo, but who gives, my way is just as good. Once the dumpling is safely nestled into its mini-tub, take a few strands of ginger placing it on top of the shoronpo. Just the right amount of soy sauce and vinegar will trickle down into its folds and crevices. Immediately break the skin on the lower side (where it's thinnest) and let the precious (precious) soup flood into your spoon. Wait a split second to cool to slightly less than scalding and sip longingly. **BLISS**. Note: Shoronpo has a very short life span. For most of its life it's either too hot or too cool, with the exception of an approximate 14.7 second interval where it is immaculate. But that's all you get, 14.7 seconds.

After you've drank the soup, tip the deflated shoronpo into your mouth--ginger and everything--in one bite. Savor. Repeat. This is no time to be dainty or polite, as your friends will be vultures as soon as they realize how good these dumplings are.

See, I blinked and four shoronpo disappeared.

Two other dishes that are must-haves here are the hot and sour soup "san raa tan", and the chinese noodles topped with deep fried pork cutlets called "pai kō men".

I used to be a hot and sour soup fiend. Now I am a paiko men DEMON. It is so good. Just look at how beautiful it is!

This is one restaurant where you can eat to your heart's content and just barely top ¥5,000 for two. That's including a drink or two. To quote a South Park character that I saw while on vacation over the holidays: Nicccccceeee.

Til next week time, Din Tai Fung...

小龍包 steamed pork dumplings
酸辣湯 hot and sour soup
パイコー麺 Chinese noodles with fried pork cutlet

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豊
5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 151-8580
(12F, Shinjuku Takashimaya Department Store)
T/ 03-5361-1381

1 comment:

the soul of japan said...

Man! Thanks for posting this information. Will visit there.