I don’t usually write about multinational restaurant chains here, and I don’t usually stop in at them when I travel. A few exceptions excluded. And at the top of the exceptional list is Din Tai Fung.
Because even on my most recent trip to London, a little dim sum lunch is on the list for the second day. After Dubai, Shanghai and Tokyo, the fourth branch (out of 170 worldwide in fourteen countries. None of them in continental Europe, unfortunately) that I visited. Of the three addresses in London, I chose probably the least pretty outlet, found on the fourth floor of Selfridges department store on Oxford Street. That department store restaurants also go differently, I experienced the evening before in Studio Frantzén only a few miles away, in Harrods.
But I’m not here for sightseeing, but to have some quick dim sums before my flight back. Because no matter where in the world, the quality here is always impressive and far from what I can get in my hometown. So I order three small flights of different classics from the clearly laid out menu.
Let’s get started with Chilli Crab & Pork Xiao Long Bao, Truffle & Prok Xiao Long Bao and Prawn & Pork Shao Mai. After my still very fresh impression of Xiao Long Baos from the previous evening at the A. Wang, one notices clear differences. Also in Din Tai Fung, the dumplings are of course fresh and prepared by hand. They go through a total of six stations and a 40-minute process. The dumplings are drawn by significantly more than the minimum required 14 folds. However, the dough is also significantly thicker, thus less transparent and firmer in bite – but also much easier to handle. And of course, right when I took a careful bite to get to the broth first, I burned my tongue.
The Xiao Long Bao filled with crab and pork is only discreetly spicy, despite the reference to the chillis and a corresponding mark on the menu, the texture of the filling very pleasant, not worked too small and accordingly very good.
The variant with pork and truffles, on the other hand, falls a little, for 5 pounds then you can not really expect much real truffle, the use of truffle oil is thus then also not surprising, yet of course as always unwelcome.
The Prawn & Pork Shao Mai also turn out as usual in London: quite good and also beautifully crafted, not least because of the shrimp incorporated at the top. Instead of the ginger, soy and rice vinegar sauce served with all dim sum, a sauce with fresh chilli, which can also be ordered, goes very well with this.
We continue with four “Minced Pork & Glutinous Rice Shao Mai”, which are clearly distinguished from the other dumplings mainly by their exceedingly firm structure. On the one hand, of course, the firm Sticky Rice contributes to this, but on the other hand also the dough, which (and here I’m not sure) was possibly wrapped with pork net before steaming? At least visually it looks like it. However, I am sure about the taste, which is again highly aromatic and probably the best choice at my lunch. And at the same time the only real new discovery for me on the map.
Of course, I had to try one more preparation from the vegan section: Vegetable Jiao Zi. According to the shape, this is Gyōza, with relatively thick and slightly floury dough. The filling then also falls a little (especially after the previously enjoyed pork pockets). However, all components (mainly broccoli) are finely chopped, but not mixed or pureed.
The bill for five different dim sums and two glasses of Riesling is around 95€ – including a comprehensive readjustment of my palate for the variety and precision in which Xiao Long Bao, Shao Mai and Jiao Zi are prepared on the assembly line.