It was a grey, grizzly Sunday. I was in my gumboots and pink duffle coat… Spring? Apparently. I headed into town to meet a friend for a day of whim and wherever the wind takes us.
“Chinatown?”, he suggested
And as we walked down George St, I suddenly remembered Din Tai Fung and how my dear friend Mitchell had raved about it (he and half the world). So off we went to Din Ta Fung.
There of course, as with most places worth their salt, was a queue, however they have an ingenious scheme going here… Upon requesting a table and joining the line, you are presented with a menu, and a spreadsheet where you tick off what you’d like to order and hand it to the hostess as your table buzzer goes off… And one cannot help but squeal with excitement when the buzzer does go off. My friend had dined here before, and was even privy to a backstage tour of the kitchen to see where the dumpling magic happens. I, as per usual, wanted to try as much as possible, so started ticking like a fiend…
“I think we’re ordering too much”
“Nah, they’re only small”, I say.
Once inside, we are seated at a large, round communal table. Within a few minutes, the beers have arrived, my friend rebuked me as I posed the question “Does beer go with dumplings?”… Apparently he feels I have been living under a rock. But honestly, I have never been that into dumplings.
First to arrive is the Drunken Chicken. This is one of their most popular dishes and often runs out, made all the more desirable by pasting “limited” across it on the menu… I seemed to have an urge to order all the limited things… wouldn’t you? This dish is a Shangainese style dish of deboned chicken drumstick marinated in Chinese rice wine. I pick up a piece with my chopsticks… It’s cold. I was expecting it to be hot, and my friend finds the look of surprise on my face very amusing. Ok, so it’s cold, but it’s delicious. It’s tangy and winey. The meat is tender and full of flavour. Tick.
And then the parade of dumplings arrive… Weeeeee! We had the classic steamed pork dumplings, which are delicious little slippery pillows, encasing a juicy, pink ball of meat. I am beginning to become a fan of dumplings… More so when I bite into the “limited” crab meat, crab roe and pork dumplings. These have a zesty, ginger hit to them and are simply amazing. The vegetarian Jioa Zi are also a hit. So soft.
The wok fried water spinach with garlic is bursting with flavour and makes a great accompaniment for the dumplings. But for me, along with the crab dumplings, the other standout dish is the vegetable and pork wontons with a spicy sauce. These pack a punch and are oozing with a robust flavour. Apparently I ate four out of the six… Ha ha, sorry there Zig.
In my usual style, I manage to put away a lot of food. My friend is rather shocked at how much I ate. I knew we didn’t order too much food.