Anyone who is even remotely tuned in to Singapore’s buzzing food trail — which in my opinion is the best in the world — would have heard of or been to Din Tai Fung Singapore. What started off as a Chinese man’s ill-fated cooking oil shop by the very same name, has now become an international restaurant brand. Few people know that Din Tai Fung Singapore is NOT a Singaporean restaurant but a Taiwanese restaurant. It has come to be known as a culinary haven where exquisite and delicate dumplings are revered and celebrated. (If you’re ever flying Taiwan’s national carrier EVA Air, you will be served Din Tai Fung dumplings in First and Business Class).
Din Tai Fung Singapore has become a mandatory pitstop for me, every time I visit the city. There may be dozens of FANTASTIC eateries in Singapore that I like to revisit but DTF is at the top of my list. If I am in the heart of Singapore, I usually go to the branch at Raffles City Mall, right across the street from Raffles Hotel. If I am in the suburbs of Singapore, I like the vibe at the Tampines Mall Branch.
I walked into the Raffles City branch last week for lunch, and I was happy to see the signature dim sum baskets stacked up like gastronomic versions of the proverbial towers of babel.
If you’re a first timer at DTF, know that while the restaurant may be iconic, the service standards are pretty dodgy. The almost robotic waitresses, with their extremely limited knowledge of English (surprising in Singapore), walk around with their stoic faces but manage to get you what you asked for without much hassle.
I started my meal with one of my favourite items on the menu: the Oriental Salad which features juliennes of seaweed, sprouts, tofu strips and glass noodles with a delightful Asian sesame infused vinegar dressing. It was a delight!
I then moved on to the famous pork dumplings, also known as Xiao Long Bao. Din Tai Fung Singapore’s pork dumplings are special and oh-so-comforting. The handmade dumplings are stuffed with exquisite minced pork and come to you almost bursting at the seams with stock/soup. I don’t know how they manage to get all that stock INSIDE the dumpling but here’s how I eat it. I usually bite off a bit of the dough, suck up all the stock and then proceed to eat the dumpling. Quite fantastic if you ask me.
I also ordered a portion of pork and vegetable dumplings, which were delicate and aromatic.
I ended my main course on a rather fiery note, to complement the subtle flavours of the previous two portions. The piquant Oriental wantons soaked in black vinegar and chilli oil garnished with crispy spring onions. My absolute favourite. Long after the wantons were devoured, I found myself ladling out the vinegar/chilli oil.
I have to admit that no matter how many dumplings I eat, my meal is incomplete without a bit of rice (that’s the Indian in me talking). The shrimp and egg fried rice was the simplest thing on the menu but left us all raving. It was fresh, soft and flavourful, and a dash of soya sauce added a much-needed zing.
Everything is washed down by a tepid Chinese green tea, refilled constantly by the attentive staff.
Who cares if Din Tai Fung Singapore’s service is dodgy? This is one place where the food consistently speaks for itself. So make sure this restaurant is on your MUST-DO list, the next time you’re in Singapore.