Soup dumplings from Din Tai Fung; image taken from foodpoi.com
Last weekend, the nourishing appeal of the woodsy confinement soups started to wear off, and both Gravy Baby and I realized that we'd had enough of the navel-gazing at home. Earlier in the week, the hubby and I started to discover based on short, 5-minute trips just outside our apartment that Gravy Baby sleeps much better when out and about for some reason. We figured that a longer trip might do wonders for Gravy Baby's daytime sleep and for my sanity.
Since it was our first time leaving the house other than to visit the doctor, the hubby and I decided to have lunch with my dad at one of our regular haunts, or a culinary "safe house," if you will. I didn't want my first meal out after a month to be a disappointment, and Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese dumpling chain with a Michelin star to its name, never fails us.
Din Tai Fung's newest little fan, the Gravy Baby
Din Tai Fung is famous for its perfect little xiao loong bao, or steamed pork dumplings. The beauty of the dumplings is that the wrapper is a perfectly delicate noodle containing exactly 18 folds, and the ground pork filling must weigh exactly 21 grams. The kitchen of each restaurant is located prominently in the front of each restaurant and enclosed in glass so you can see the precision and care that goes into crafting each dumpling.
The exact measurements of each xiao loong bao is only part of the equation, however. The key to a properly executed dumpling is in the filling itself — once steamed, the wrapper contains the perfect amount of hot soup that bursts in your mouth along with the delicious pork center. The soup is actually made from a gelatinous soup base akin to bouillon and wrapped in the filling and melts during the steaming process to create the soup. It really is a work of art and science, all in one perfect little dumpling.
In addition to the classic pork xiao loong bao, there's also a mixed crabmeat and pork version that the hubby and I treat as a "must eat' every time we're there, and we also indulge ourselves on a litany of other classic Taiwanese dishes. For me, a trip to Din Tai Fung is comfort food at its best, and for the hubby, it's just a continuation of his awakening to the amazingness that is true Asian cuisine.
Oh, and the Gravy Baby slept straight through the meal. For now, I consider that a lunch well-spent.
Din Tai Fung | Locations throughout the world, including the United States