I can’t believe we haven’t posted about Din Tai Fung. Some may beg to differ, but I do think that the xiao long baos here are one of the best in Singapore. The bao skins here are thin, yet not so fragile that they break once you pick them up, unlike the Crystal Jade ones which are really thick and floury. Of course, we haven’t tried some of the hole-in-the-wall xiao long bao places that are supposed to be divine, but as far as commercial chains go, this is my top choice.
They have some interesting xiao long bao varieties here, the best one being their crabmeat and pork ones. The crabmeat makes the filling incredibly sweet and flavourful, and no doubt enhances the flavour of the soup too. Random bit of trivia – do you know how a xiao long bao’s trademark soupy filling is made? They chill the soup till it hardens to a gelatine, then they put a small piece of the gelatine stock while they’re forming each bao. When it steams, the gelatine then heats up and turns into the soup that defines a xiao long bao (and burns your mouth when you bite into it).
We actually came here to try the Limited Edition Chilli Crab Xiao Long Bao, that we saw advertised a while back. Alas, Limited Edition means exactly that – it was clearly a very short promotion, because it’s no longer available. This ought to teach us not to procrastinate, especially for one-off specials.
We’ve always thought that the la mian here isn’t as good as the xiao long baos, but maybe it’s improved, because the pork rib la mian that we had today was great. The noodles were springy, the soup was clear yet rich and sweet, and the fried pork chop was very tender. Random rant: our table was next to a couple who were finishing up just as we sat down. When they paid up and left, we glanced over and to our absolute horror, the girl had barely touched her food. She too had ordered the pork chop la mian; at first I thought she just ate the pork and left the carbs, but she had taken out all the pork and just left it on her side plate uneaten! I mean, I’ve seen people not finish their food, but this takes the cake. With the amount that was left, she must have had 3 mouthfuls tops. I’m not being preachy – I don’t pull the “people are starving in Africa” thing very much, but honestly this was appalling.
But I digress. We’ve recently discovered, thanks to my bro and SIL, that the fried rice here is actually very good. Really eggy and fragrant, with sufficient wok hei. We had the fried rice with shredded pork – very good.
Almost all of their outlets are pretty packed at mealtimes, and they don’t accept reservations, but unless you’re in a big group, the wait is pretty short because of the high turnover. Then again, we were at the Paragon outlet before 12, so I can imagine it gets quite insane later on.
Good food. Good service. I like how they give you decent estimates on the waiting time. I think it’s worth queuing for if it takes less then 10 mins. If not, Paragon has many other acceptable alternatives (although you’ll probably have to queue for those as well).