Xiao Long Bao
I had this more than a month ago. A really long time ago.
But I’ll be honest with you.
I’ll have it every other week if I could afford it – financially and physically.
What’s wrong with having steamed pork dumplings even more than the occasional chocolate, you say?
When they start getting more addictive with each little bundle you pop in your mouth is why. And have I mentioned the varying results that occur when you do? Sometimes they burst in an explosion of fragrant broth out of your mouth at your dining companion, which isn’t always a bad thing. But then sometimes they blast back inwards into your throat, and you end up violently hacking up the entire thing, saliva and dumpling and all, at the same dining companion, which is when you realise that there’s much more skill required in handling those humble looking things than you initially thought. You also realise that the diners in your immediate vicinity staring at you.
So when I say these are addictive, I mean it. If I had a rumbling, sexy baritone of a voice like those movie trailer narrators (This Summer…*dom dom dom* A hero is chosen…*dom dom dom*) I would be able to warn you effectively. But since I don’t – and I will very probably only end up sounding hilariously sleazy if I try – I just have this to say: Watch how many you have eaten. They are worse than snacking on Pringles while watching a Germany/ England match.
Each famous dumpling skin, when eaten the moment they arrive on the table, is soft and supple yet doesn’t break when you pick one up by its tip. I’m convinced there’s some mad science that has gone into the fine balance between achieving almost paper-thin skin and yet being able to contain a ball of succulent minced pork and broth. Apparently the original Taiwan outlets are even better. I’m almost afraid to imagine. I never used to like XLBs. Never used to like the vinegar and ginger slices either.
I still don’t know what was wrong with me then.
The vegetable dumplings had the same skins as the XLBs (sounds cool huh), but weren’t as exciting. The mixture of green vegetable and pork wasn’t quite tasty enough to elicit any noteworthy comment whatsoever. A little chilli and/or soy sauce easily fixes things. And they don’t explode. Poo.
Shrimp Fried Rice
Gushi insisted that if I didn’t try Din Tai Fung’s fried rice before I died, I’d be reincarnated as one of the shrimps (the fact that I’ll be a fresh shrimp doesn’t placate me) that goes into the dish and be eaten. Because the thought of eating plankton and sea scum in another life and spending my last moments in a wok really didn’t appeal to me, we ordered a plate to share.
Which I now think was a mistake.
After the first mouth, I didn’t want to share! I turned into the Golem of Fried Rice!
I instantly developed an intense possessiveness over every single grain of rice and shrimp and spring onion and egg. And boy was I thankful I had made the right decision in not being a shrimp after I die. There is nothing more heavenly to a Cantonese/Hakka-bred person than the smell and taste of wok hei (Wok breath, if I may so loosely translate it). They don’t use your ordinary Thai fragrant rice or long-grain Chinese white rice. Those are fluffy and soft. These were slightly chewy, glossy and never clumped together. I enjoyed the rice much more than the shrimps, which were incredibly crunchy and fresh by the way (still not gonna be a shrimp). Din Tai Fung has several fried rice dishes. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, whether you want the one with pork chop or plain. Just make sure you order one entirely for yourself if you cherish whatever relationship you have with your dining companion(s).
Steamed Pork Bun
We thought this was Char Siew Bao because we love Char Siew Bao and would always never fail to order Char Siew Bao if we saw something that sounded like Char Siew Bao on the menu. Turns out that this wasn’t Char Siew Bao but the Big Daddy version of the Xiao Long Bao. The pork filling was the same, if not identical, to the one in the XLBs, and the only difference was the thicker and chewy bun which I rather liked. Bao bao bao…
Red Bean Dumpling
I’ve been on a sort of red bean craze recently, much to Gushi’s dismay because she can’t stand the things. I ignored her incinerating glare and ordered a steamer of red bean dumplings anyway. I mean, come on, relationships are bound to have conflicts every now and then and we hadn’t had a cat-fight in a while. We needed the practice.
Now these! These were out of this world, unbelievably smooth and satiny and all encased within thinthinthin dumpling skins. There wasn’t a very pronounced red bean flavour, which got me pondering if they used 100% red bean paste. Maybe Taiwanese red beans are different from Chinese red beans, just like how Japanese Adzuki beans are. Maybe they used specially grown GM red beans. Maybe there’s just food colouring in there. But whatever! Bah! I heart the red bean dumplings. Big heart mega mega.
I know I said I probably cannot afford to have Din Tai Fung every other week, but perhaps I could shift my expenses around, walk 10km to work and back, get my hair cut at QB/EC house…
I’ve so gone over to the Dark Side.
Din Tai Fung
9 Bishan Place
Tel: +65 6356 5228
Mon–Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat–Sun, PH: 10am – 10pm
(last order 9.30pm)