Perhaps the most anticipated Chinese restaurant to open in Orange county for 2014, Din Tai Fung opened a new restaurant in South Coast Plaza earlier this year. I’ve been wanting to go for some time now but every time I tried to go the wait was over 2 hours. Luckily, I figured out away to enjoy their food without having to wait for 2-3 hours for a table. The trick is to ask to sit at the bar because the bar has a first come first serve line which typically only takes 30 – 40 minutes as long as you only have a party of two. If you really want to go with a larger party then be my guest, but make sure you don’t mind waiting for 2 – 3 hours. On that note, Din Tai Fung will take down your number and text you when the table is almost ready, so you can spend your time shopping for most of your wait, but just don’t show up at 6 pm thinking you will eat at 7 pm. Now before I get started on the food, I just want to make one statement. If you are going to leave a Yelp review, please do a Din Tai Fung review based on the food quality, not the long wait or the fact that they ran out of a specific dish. If you don’t want to wait then go eat somewhere else because there is a good reason why tons of people are willing to wait 2 – 3 hours to eat at this restaurant.
Din Tai Fung is known for their best dumplings, they are most well known for their Xiao Long Bao (pronounced “shiaw long bao”), which is a steamed pork bun that you eat with a vinegar, soy sauce and fresh ginger dipping sauce. Xiao Long Bao is one of my top 5 favorite dishes of all time and I could literally eat it every day of my life and never get sick of it. Now with that being said, Din Tai Fung makes a really good Xiao Long Bao, but I have to say it isn’t the best. The dough they use to make the bun is the best I’ve ever had because it is thin, yet it doesn’t tare easily. This is important when eating Xiao Long Bao because you want to keep the juices that are inside from pouring out. My only issue with Din Tai Fung is the actual pork filling isn’t as seasoned as I would have liked it to be (I’ve had better). For example, I like the Xiao Long Bao from Tasty Noodle in Irvine for the filling, but my issue with Tasty Noodle is their dough tears way too easily. Don’t get me wrong, I will always order Xiao Long Bao when I go to Din Tai Fung, but know that I am not waiting in line just for this dish.
With that being said, what I would wait in line for is their pork and shrimp wonton in spicy sauce, it is absolutely amazing! The next time I go back I will probably order at least two of these, just for myself. The wonton itself bursts with flavor and the spicy sauce just makes this dish to die for. I literally had a dream about this dish the night after I ate it (no joke). For those of you who cannot take spicy food at all, I don’t know what else to say other than I am so sorry you are missing out on this dish. If you can eat a little bit of spicy food I would say give this dish a try because it is not that spicy, it is more of a zesty kick than truly spicy (hot). Think Taco bell medium spicy sauce, not the HOT sauce.
Another dish that I highly recommend is their Noodle in Sesame Sauce. Their sesame sauce has a nutty, spicy and sesame flavor that is just amazing.
A side dish that I highly recommend is the Cucumber Salad. There is something special in how simple, yet how good this dish is. It is the perfect blend of sour, spicy and refreshing making it the perfect pallet cleanser between eating different types of dumplings.
Overall I really liked Din Tai Fung, even though the wait can be very long. Would I wait 2 – 3 hours regularly for this place? No, but would I wait 30 – 40 minutes to sit at the bar, yes! One warning I will give to you before you go is to ask the hostess or a waiter if they have the dishes you want before you wait. This restaurant is known to “run out” of certain menu items. Hopefully that will change as they refine their inventory management skills, but just know the food is awesome but the restaurant management is still figuring things out.