xiao long bao – steamed pork dumplings
I’d never really understood the obsession with xiao long bao – steamed pork dumplings . I’d only ever tried it during yum cha and I think it was the dough which I always thought was too thick.
Then I discovered that Din Tai Fung – the celebrated Taiwanese restaurant awarded one Michelin Star and ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by the New York Times – was in Singapore.
My friends back in Sydney used to trek to Ashfield to Din Tai Fung and always waxed lyrical about them – so I decided to visit the outlet at Raffles City. And now I realise what the fuss is all about.
Everything is hand-made on the premises, from the dough to the filling(s) and I watched in wonder at the chefs all rolling out the individual dumpling skins to almost paper thinness but thick enough to hold the dumpling filling which is minced pork and soup (created by wrapping a piece of aspic inside the skin alongside the meat filling. Heat from steaming then melts the gelatin-gelled aspic into soup).
You have to time eating your dumplings well – too soon and the hot soup might burn your mouth. Too late and the soup becomes too cold. But at just the right time, when you break the skin in your mouth (you have to put the dumpling whole into your mouth) releasing all the ingredients and flavours to mix, it’s just heaven.
The “replacement” dumpling for the broken-skinned one from our original order (look carefully at the photo above, you can see it !)
I’ve been often enough now to know that the rest of the food on the limited menu is also very good, but go for the hero of the show. They are clearly passionate about perfection – the last time I went they even sent over a single dumpling because one of our original order had a broken skin.
Be prepared to wait though, the place is almost always packed, to the point where at peak times they won’t even seat you unless your entire table are present. I think it’s worth the wait though.
Din Tai Fung
Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-08 (there are 6 outlets in total throughout Singapore)
Tel: 6336 6369