Din Tai Fung Restaurant Review @ Los Angeles 鼎泰豐

Din Tai Fung Restaurant Review | JustOneCookbook.comLiving in the San Francisco Bay Area, there isn’t a shortage of great Chinese restaurants.  From dim sum at Koi Palace, salt and pepper crab at R & G Lounge, stinky tofu at Joy Restaurant, to Shanghai style chow mein at Little Shanghai, we could find plenty of restaurants to fulfill our Chinese food cravings.  The one Chinese specialty that Nami and I love but haven’t found a restaurant that wowed us so far in the Bay Area is Xiao Long Bao, aka Shanghai steamed dumplings.

When talking about Xiao Long Bao, the best known specialty restaurant is probably Din Tai Fung, originating from Taiwan.  Din Tai Fung was founded 1958 in Taipei originally as a peanut oil retailer.  As time changed and packaged salad oil was introduced, the owners had to subsidize their oil business by selling steamed buns on the side.  The delicious steamed buns at Din Tai Fung became so popular it got out of the oil business in the 1980’s and became a full time restaurant business.  Today, Din Tai Fung serves their delicious Xiao Long Bao in 10 different countries with most of them in the Asia Pacific region.


Whenever I travel to Los Angeles, there is an “eat” list that I usually can’t skip.  This list has evolved over the years but Din Tai Fung is always on the list.  When our family went to Los Angeles for a wedding earlier this year, it was the perfect time to bring our children and share the wonderful experience with them (since both of them love dumplings).  We went there around 10:30 AM on a weekend for lunch because the wait time for an available table is also legendary.  There are actually two branches of Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, California and they are located back to back (and yes there is still a line).  Since we were there early we only had to wait for 15 minutes before sitting down at our table.

As you enter the restaurant, you could see the men huddled in the kitchen around a table making fresh dumplings.  It’s amazing to observe their machine-like hands and fingers moving so quickly to make each dumplings.

Din Tai Fung Restaurant Review 1

As you site down, the table setting is simple, vinegar with julienned ginger, tea, along with chopsticks, spoon, and a plate.  The menu is not a long list, with a variety of noodles, rice, soup, and dumplings.  However as someone who has tried almost their entire menu, I can attest that almost everything on the menu is super delicious.  For our meal, we ordered sour and spicy soup, fried pork chop, shrimp and pork dumping, pork bun, red bean bun, and 2 order of Xiao Long Bao.

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The sour and spicy soup came out first it was my very first time ordering it.  Unfortunately it was a rare disappointment, the soup was not sour or spicy and I had much higher expectations.  For soup, I highly recommend the house chicken soup instead.

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The second course was Taiwanese style fried pork chop and it was superb, I had to fight with our son for the last piece.  The pork chop is seasoned and golden fried to perfection.  Din Tai Fung’s Taiwanese style pork chop is unique because it doesn’t have a thick layer of batter on the outside.  The meat is juicy, tender, and flavored all the way through.

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The next up are the shrimp and pork dumplings.  When you order multiple steamed dishes, Din Tai Fung serves the dishes one at a time so the dumpling doesn’t get cold sitting there idle and the skins become hard.  The biggest differentiator in my opinion between Din Tai Fung and everywhere else is their skin. The skin on their dumplings is so thin it’s barely strong enough to hold the fillings.

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You can see the fabulous ingredients they use (large shrimp piece) in the filling when you bite inside.

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Along with the dumping, we also ordered two types of buns, pork and red bean.  The buns were freshly steamed and the texture for the exterior of the bun is extremely refined.  The skin was soft like marshmallow and simply melted in your mouth as you bite into it.

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The pork bun fillings were done just right and didn’t overpower the gentle flavor of the bun.  The red bean paste filling was sweet and delightful.

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Finally Xiao Long Bao was served at last.  Each Xiao Long Bao is wrapped in paper thin skin that almost tears when you try to pick them up with chopsticks.

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The best Xiao Long Bao are the ones with soup inside when served and you absolutely want to enjoy it with the soup.  Even with it’s super thin skin, Din Tai Fung’s Xiao Long Bao are filled with soup.  The proper way to enjoy Xiao Long Bao is to put one completely intact in a spoon, drizzle the vinegar, place a few strands of ginger on top and enjoy the whole thing in one bite.  Be careful not to burn yourself since the soup inside could be extremely hot.  Our children enjoyed the wonderful dumplings with us and Din Tai Fung is now on our family’s “eat” list.

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Din Tai Fung

Address: 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, California 91007
Phone: (626) 574-7068
Mon – Fri: 11:00AM – 3:00PM, 5PM – 9:30PM
Sat: 10:30AM – 9:30PM
Sun: 10:30AM – 9:00PM

I hope you enjoyed my husband’s restaurant review.  I’m currently on vacation but will come back next Tuesday August 14th (for some of you, it is Wednesday) with a new Japanese recipe.  See you all then!  xo  – Nami
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  1. Hi Nami, our kids love DTF and whenever we are near our old place in Pyrmont, they request we go to DTF for Xiao Long Bao which they call soupy dumplings… The 10 year old can eat 16 of them in one sitting! Staff always look at me funny when I order 8 servings of 4 – they always say, so 8 dumplings? No, 32 please :-) I always get the pork and prawn dumplings with XO chilli noodles. And from time to time the tofu salad. Sorry to hear the soup was a disappointment though…

  2. Lee G

    Very nice review. It’s good to know what to look for when in search of authentic and quality Chinese cuisine. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My family is crazy for dumplings. Almost every Saturday we eat at a local restaurant here that serves steamed dumplings and some other Chinese specialities. Our favorites are the sui-mai, pork and ginger dumplings, chinese greens , and fried shrimp balls.
    One of these days, I am going to try the fried shrimp balls (from your blog).
    The food featured here looks outstanding! I am drooling over the soup!

  4. Happy to see another review. The meal looks delicious and very filling. You guys are lucky to have your pick of Chinese restaurants. We may have 2-3 and they are franchises. Authenticity in any cuisine is always best.

  5. :) This is my favorite restaurant for Xiao Long Bao. My parents used to live in Arcadia and we go there quite often. Besides Xiao Long Bao, other items at this place are just wonderful too.

  6. i love dumplings. the pics are well captured. in fact the texture of the bun is looking so good. i would love to make these buns with a veg filling.

  7. What a great post! I’ll eat a dumpling any day of the week. Terrific place – I’ll definitely put in on my list for next time I’m out that way. Great photos, fun post – thanks.

  8. Eha

    Nami, hope you are having a wonderful break!! Have loved your husband’s posts from the beginning – a great big ‘thank you’ for this one as I so enjoy ‘soupy’ dumplings and these sound perfect! Absolutely love Martyna’s comments re her kids appetites [I can remember my own stories only too well!] and her choice of menu! Since we live but about 100 km apart, we’ll have to agree to be in the same place at the same time one of these days :) !

  9. oOo… I love xiao long bao! I’ll definitely have to try the shrimp and pork dumpling next time I visit DTF.

    I learned awhile back that the proper way to eat xiao long bao is to eat the soup first and then the rest of the dumpling. You grab it whole and place it on your spoon (with ginger and vinegar if desired). Then, you pierce or bite a tiny piece out of the side of the dumpling and pour the soup into the spoon and drink the soup first. Alternatively, you can suck out the soup. Then, you eat the rest of the dumpling whole. This way minimizes your odds of burning your mouth with hot soup (like when you eat a fresh, piping hot whole dumpling in one bite). Thought I’d share in case it saves someone from a burnt tongue! 😛

    • Thank you for the tip! Now you mentioned, I did hear that method before! I usually wait till dumplings are a little cooler (not right after being served) and eat the whole thing. 😀 Love the juicy liquid with the dumplings together in the mouth. While my husband obviously cannot wait to take a bite. lol. Thank you so much for sharing the tip Christina! :-)

  10. Alfredo Di Stefano

    Nothing in my opinion tops Yank Sing on Spear Street in San Francisco. I live in Los Angeles and I drive three time per year to San Francisco just to eat at Yank Sing !!!

  11. Thank you for this wonderful review! I have been to Din Tai Fung and love their soup dumplings–now I know what else to order the next time I go there!

  12. Oh no!!!!! Nami, you can not remind me of Din Tai Fung at all! Mark & I used to go to Din Tai Fung twice a month when we were working in Singapore. We just loved it there! After we left Singapore, we haven’t come across one restaurant that serves such delightful Chinese foods with immaculate service. We wish there is one in every city we live in, but of course that won’t make them special. Okay, I can’t even bare to look at the delectable pictures you shared here because I just missed a really good authentic Chinese food. We haven’t found one in the Twin cities.

  13. Had a chance yo eat at Din Tai Fung in Taipei once and it was such a wonderful experience. Although… we had to queue up outside for a little while because the place was packed.

  14. Wow these dumpling look amazing, I don’t get down there often, but will have to keep this place in mind for when I do. Hope summer is treating you well.

  15. CC

    Good to hear you enjoyed your DTF dinner. I agree their skin is really very good – thin and smooth! Their la mien is also very nice.

  16. Lucas @ CoverVersion.tv

    Finally a restaurant review I can actually relate to: we have two Din Tai Fungs in Sydney, and we love them very much. :)


  17. Great photos and that food looks heavenly–I have access to good steamed buns at a little dim sum place here, but I’ve never had soup dumplings. I have such food envy right now!

  18. Ohhhh thank you for this post! I’ve been to Din Tai Fung in Taipei (I basically went all the way to Taiwan– with an academic conference as my excuse– just to eat dumplings…) but I didn’t know there was one so nearby me in Los Angeles! I will have to make a trip there sometime soon.

  19. Wonderful review Shen and thank you for taking us through the Din Tai Fung. I feel like I am there while reading your review. I don’t know which dish that you reviewed look better, but I would have to say that Taiwanese style fried pork chops and pork bun fillings look amazing…however those dumplings look very tempting too. I can only imagine how wonderful it tasted. Thanks again for sharing and wishing you both beautiful weekend!

  20. Excellent review of an exceptional place from what I see! When I think that in my city there is not a single place serving fresh dim sum… Even those who make (or pretend they make) their own dim sum unfreeze them in a microwave before frying or steaming. It’s sad, especially since dim sum are my favourite dishes when I go to a Chinese restaurants (actually I have been taking only dim sum during my recent meals). I envy you being to such a high quality place!
    (Steamed pork buns are my number one items!).

  21. Yes!! I looove DTF! And you are absolutely right! They do make the best XLBs. haha.. And yeah I’ve burned my tongue eating them before. I simply was too impatient to wait for it to cool :( lol
    Nami!! I got an idea!! You should try to make them too!!! 😀 😀 hehe..

  22. Nice to hear about a restaurant in my neck-of-the-woods, although it is still a bit of a drive. Dumpling filled with soup, a splash of vinegar and ginger sounds heavenly!

  23. I wonder if we have Din Tai Fung in Philadelphia. I have to remember this restaurant, if I see it around here, I will definitely visit. The dumplings looks so delicious, I just had a dinner, but for these dumplings I can always find some place-))) It gives me a great pleasure to visit your blog!

  24. What a wonderful restaurant review with terrific pictures! It all looks so absolutely appetizing and sounds so delicious -I am utterly jealous now, there is no such wonderful Asian restaurant around here that would even come close to serving this kind of authenic fare!

  25. I want to go to ths restaurant now too! Plus you need to teach me how to use chopsticks…hehe. i always have to use a fork and a spoon but for once, i would like to go to a chinese restaurant and eat with chopsticks!!!

  26. I love your restaurant reviews. When we return to the States, we plan to make a stop in California to see my husband’s family. When we do, I have all of your restaurant recommendations to use!

  27. Looks like an excellent meal! We drove by the R&G Lounge Sunday night on our way home from the airport and there was a line out the door-such a popular restaurant- 2 blocks from our office, I will have to try the crab dish;-) The dumplings look so perfectly made, I can imagine they were delicious! I’m pinning your review to my list of restaurants to try-thanks for sharing and welcome home;-)

  28. I really love xiao long bao, and since they originated from my part of the world, I’ve had my fair share of good ones in my lifetime. 😀 I quite liked Din Tai Fung in Sydney, I haven’ been to the other ones but from the photos, they look like a similar quality. Xiao long bao are just so delicious when there’s a lot of soup inside! I almost always take a tiny bite up the top, then tip it out onto my spoon and drink it that way, because it’s always way too hot and I’ve often burnt my tongue drinking it straight out of the bun! 😛

  29. There are branches of Din Tai Fung popping up around Singapore and when I make a trip back home, it’s always on my to eat list!! We both have this on our fave list of restaurants!

  30. Dear Shen,

    Great post about DTF. I think there are at least 2 outlets here in Sydney now and I wonder if the food have the same consistency across different countries. I would definitely skip the spicy and sour soup as I think northern chinese restaurants do that a lot better. The 2 dishes that I enjoy at DTF are definitely the XLB and drunken chicken which is served cold although the portion is quite small which I think is actually meant to be eaten as an entree.

  31. I MISS DTF so much :) Sigh it’s so annoying that they don’t have one here in Melbourne…the closes one would be in Sydney which is still a 1 hour flight away hehe

    We love going to the one in Taipei hehe have you visited before? :)

  32. My family is from Taipei so I’ve been to the original one in Taipei several times. Honestly I feel like it’s over rated and over priced. This past March when I was there the service was horrible and the food was just ok.

  33. I’m reading this late at night and feeling awfully hungry now! I think I’ll have to get some bao first thing in the morning, wish I could go here instead.

  34. Kristine


    Nice read! :) So sad to hear that you didn’t like the hot and sour soup.

    The secret to the soup is to actually add their signature vinegar. Me and my friends here in Singapore (we have 12 branches), always order the soup and pour the vinegar and voila!

    Try it. Hope you enjoy it next time. Cheers!

    • Hi Kristine! Oh we love hot and sour soup and red vinegar is definitely a must! We usually skip the soup at DTF, but we gave it a try this time… too bad we didn’t like it but it wasn’t good only that day. We’ll give it a try again! Thank you so much for reading! :)