Among xiao long bao (XLB) fanatics, Din Tai Fung has a cult-like following. After having been highly successful in Taiwan, it opened branches in other parts of the world, most notably in Asia and the South Pacific. Then in 1993, the New York Times voted it one of the ten best restaurants in the world. The first U.S. operation opened in Arcadia (California). This year, DTF opened its “Seattle” branch here in Bellevue, an interesting decision, considering that Bellevue has long been seen as a suburb of Seattle. I think that the decision has more to do with demographics, for here on the Eastside reside most of the immigrant Taiwanese. Like elsewhere, the lines can get to be quite long, sometimes taking more than a hour (and even longer) to get seating. We decided to wait until the “fever” subsided.
A few days ago, a snowstorm passed through the area. Taking advantage of the fact that many people weren’t going to be out on the icy streets, we headed over to DTF. We got seated pretty quickly at the bar where you don’t have to put your name on a waiting list (which was still a reasonable 30 minutes when we got there a little before 2pm).
The pork XLB and pork & shrimp won ton with spicy sauce were impressive. The XLB, we were told by the bartender, tends to cool off pretty quickly once the bamboo steamer lid is removed. The first one I had was hot but not so much that it burned my mouth. The pork filling was very tasty and the broth was excellent. The ginger slivers and soy sauce/black vinegar dipping sauce (1-to-3 ratio) added a great deal to the enjoyment.
The wonton was also excellent, having a nice, complex flavor with hints of star anise.
The hot-and-sour soup was good but not vinegary enough, which was easily taken care of by adding more vinegar. Plus, it didn’t come piping hot. Because we made a comment to the bartender about it, we weren’t charged for the soup.
Din Tai Fung
700 Bellevue Way Northeast #280
Bellevue, WA 98004