The Stolen Kiss:
A 4/5 for Din Tai Fung

Passionately kissed by: The crab & chicken XiaoLongBao, Chicken Chow Mein, Sweet & Sour Prawns.
Politely kissed by: Chicken & vegetable wontons, Chili crispy chicken.
Break-up Kiss by: Garlic egg fried rice.
Service: Pleasant, efficient staff. Difficult to decipher accent (bothways , unfortunately)
Presentation: Non-existent. More of a fast-food atmosphere.


First let me tell you of a post that made me write this post. Sandy of GingerandScotch.compublished this fun review of Din Tai Fung and by the time I was done reading it, I was up at their table number 46 waiting for the courteous Asian staff to deliver my dumplings. I’m not usually so easy to influence (hah, who am I kidding?!), but when it comes to Asian cuisine, I’m as tender (hearted) as a bulls eye atop a Pad Thai.

Coming back to Din Tai Fung, the restaurant is located in the newly opened section of the Mall Of Emirates. Rule #1- Be prepared to wait. Yes, as for any hyped newly opened eatery in Dubai, there is a waiting of approximately 30 minutes for getting seated. If you are not a fan of “earning your table”, you will need to come back in 3-4 months time for the rush to die down a bit (remember Cheesecake factory queues in The Dubai Mall? **Aaargh**)

Din Tai Fung is a Taiwanese restaurant that has super powers when it comes to serving Shanghainese Xiao Long Bao dumplings. I know that entire sentence sounds intimidating, and to people like me, downright scary. But let me explain what it means.

You’ve had soup, you’ve had dumplings. You’ve had dumplings IN soup. BUT, listen carefully here…have you had SOUP INSIDE DUMPLINGS? No? Ofcourse not! That’s Xiao Long Bao for you and it’s pure genius!

A little bit of wiki told me that Xiao Long Bao is a type of steamed bun and derives its name from xiaolong, the small bamboo steaming baskets they are made in. Traditionally made with pork stuffing, the dish has to make-do with chicken, meat and seafood here in Dubai. I have no idea what the pork version tastes like, but I can tell you about the “Dubaian” version of these dumplings!

Before we get there, let’s get seated. Yup, 40 minutes down, my beeper finally started beeping. Thankfully, the instrument has range through the entire floor, making the long wait tad less excruciating with a leisurely walk and some window-shopping.

Upon getting seated, the menu is handed over along with a sheet of printed-paper on which you can give your order in ticks and numbers. Mesmerized by the twin forces of blinding hunger and a pictorial menu card, we ordered haywire (or so we thought then).

Crab & Chicken XiaoLongBao – Dh36/6pcs
Chicken Chow Mein – Dh 32
Garlic Egg Fried Rice – Dh 31
Chicken & Vegetable Wontons (tossed in special sauce) – Dh 25
Chili Crispy Chicken – Dh 47
Sweet & Sour Prawns – Dh 78

While you wait, there is entertainment in the form of instruction manuals teaching you the correct method of eating a XiaoLongBao. Ideally you put the soy sauce and vinegar in a 1:3 ratio in the ginger dish, dip the Xiao in it and place it in an accompanying soupspoon. You then poke holes on the xiao so the broth oozes out. Then you lay some ginger slices in it and take the whole thing into your mouth. The manual gives a clear warning at this juncture – “take care, it is HOT”. Let me tell you from experience that it would be dumb to ignore such warnings on the instruction manuals. They are never generally kidding!

Chicken & vegetable wontons

The dishes start arriving within 10 minutes. And when they start coming, they come rather quick. Within 4 minutes, our table is fully laid out with all the ordered dishes. The inner turmoil we were facing after ordering what then seemed like A LOT, soon vanished as we started devouring the food, item by item.

The crab & chicken xiaolongbao was indeed delicious. For a lover of all things Asian, I enjoyed the ritual involved in relishing each of them from my share of dumplings. The Little FoodKisser took care of the lion’s share of Chow Mein – an absolutely enjoyable dish. The chicken & vegetable wontons tasted good, but not unlike the wontons we have had from other Asian joints in Dubai. The sweet & sour prawns were sticky sweet and satisfyingly sour. Being a fan of those flavors, I took responsibility for the disappearance of that dish. What I know I would skip the next time (as I’m sure I’ll find better soul mates, hiding somewhere in those menu pages) are the Garlic Egg fried rice and the Chili Crispy Chicken. The fried rice was just about average and the chicken was too dry fried to my taste.

Contrary to our initial scare while ordering “too many dishes”, we managed to finish it all without too big a guilt trip. The portions that means, were not too taxing. So would I say the prices are cheap? Certainly no. The bill total came to Aed 250+ and that is not cheap for two adults and a picky eating toddler. But for all its casual set-up, food presentation (or lack thereof), fast-food style delivery and non-fantastic quantity for the prices (except for the dumplings), I have a feeling I will be back sooner than soon…for more of those XiaoLongBaos and to dive deeper into their menu options! And if my Asian-food-hating husband is reading this…”darling, one day dumpling, one day Biriyani. Ok-ok?”.