Friday, July 01, 2011

Ding Tai Fung

Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is a global chain of restaurants that originated in Taiwan. According to its website, it has outlets besides Taiwan, in China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, United States, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. It has earned a mention in Wikipedia as an award winning restaurant that was established back in 1948 after the Chinese civil war, specializing in xiaolongbao (小籠包 - steamed dumpling). Their Hongkong outlets won Michelin stars for good dining in 2009 and 2010.

In Malaysia, there are Ding Tai Fungs in the Pavilion and The Gardens, Mid Valley - both in KL. The outlet we went to was in the Empire Shopping Galley in Subang Jaya. We were there for lunch on Mother's day and the place was jam packed. We had to take a number and while waiting for our table, they very efficiently gave us an order slip to make our selection based on a menu posted outside the restaurant.

They had some chairs outside for waiting patrons. It was here that a guy made a very nice gesture that made me feel a little old. I was waiting on my feet and he got up from his seat and gallantly offered it to me. I was really taken aback. It was the first time anybody has done me this civility. I don't know if I looked like I needed a seat. I guess I am starting to look like one.

Our number was finally called and we were led to a dining area that seemed a little congested and noisy. They have small cubicles at the front and rows of table at the back. We were seated at the back.

Soon after tea was served, the food we ordered earlier started to arrive. The offerings here are all 食 - small dishes.

The xiaolongbao (小籠包) which they supposedly specialize in, did not impress me. They were quite ordinary. I have tasted better dumplings than these. They have some soup inside the dumpling, which was very nice to the bite. But the taste was not extraordinary.

The Shanghainese drunken chicken was superb. It was salted pak cham kai (白切雞) in a very nice Chinese wine sauce. They gave us a thigh which was an added pleasure.

This was a small plate of spicy jelly fish. It was kind of pickled, with chili and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. It was refreshing. Would had been a good starter, only it was not served first.

The vegetable and pork kao ji (餃子 or gyoza) is a different kind of dumpling. It is Crystal's favorite. She never fail to order this wherever she finds it. The gyoza here is quite normal. No different from other places.

This was supposed to be the Shanghainese smoked fish. It did not looked smoked and also did not looked like how it was in the menu. I was pretty sure they brought us the wrong fish dish. In any case, the taste was very Taiwanese - kind of "artificial". It was more like deep fried fish in a sweet sauce. I was neutral to its flavor.

We had a couple of vege dishes. The stir fried Chinese cabbage and shrimp...

... and the kai lan (芥蘭) were both very ordinary - almost boring.

We ordered some shrimp fried rice to fill our stomachs. Not bad.

And the pork chop la mian (拉麺 - hand pulled noodles) which was also very Taiwanese in flavor. It is kind of difficult to explain what I mean by "Taiwanese flavor" - the best word I can perhaps offer to describe it, is "superficial".

The above were our initial orders. They were not enough for our 6 hungry stomachs. We added 3 more dishes. It started with the glass noodles with bean curd and pork roll - which was also very (I am sorry I have to use the term again) Taiwanese. It was a rather confusing bowl of noodles.

The pork bun or pau (包) was so-so.

Finally the mango shrimp roll. Well, I leave it to your imagination how mango would blend with shrimps in a deep fried roll.

I came out of the restaurant very unimpressed. The meal was not cheap too. Just a sample of the prices - the Shanghainese drunken chicken was RM12.80, the fried rice was RM15.00 and the Chinese cabbage with shrimps was RM18.80. All the small dishes add up to a  hefty bill. I probably would mind the prices less if the food was good. It kind of confirmed my non-eagerness for Taiwanese food.

A Michelin star?....

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