My list of New York foods I miss is insanely long. Xiaolongbao, or “soup dumplings” is up high on that list, along with halal cart food, pizza from Artichoke Basille’s, and bagels from Brooklyn Bagel. Specifically, I crave the xiaolongbao from Joe’s Shanghai, an unfussy Chinatown institution where the servers will literally chase you down if they feel you haven’t left a big enough tip (true story).
At Joe’s Shanghai I would eat my weight in plump, steamy soup dumplings. The magic of these treats was in the broth. A rich, savory broth full of umami bursts out of the dumpling with your first bite, and it is heavenly.
When I caught wind of Din Tai Fung, the legendary, Michelin-starred, Taiwanese establishment, opening shop in the states, I was intrigued. When I saw that there were two restaurants in Seattle, with a third soon to be opened, I knew I had to go.
I went to the Din Tai Fung in University Village, which is located in a sprawling shopping center. This allowed us to make our visit into a big day trip. Overall Din Tai Fung gives off a sleek, modern impression when you walk in. As you look around, you’ll notice playful details like the use of steamer baskets as wall decor.
The star attraction
If you’re coming here, you’re going to order xiaolongbao, and lots of it. There are ten soup dumplings per order, and they’re on the smaller side, so plan accordingly. Personally, I could eat an entire order by myself and then some, but I am also not one for moderation. You can order more as your meal progresses, which we did.
How were these legendary soup dumplings? The size threw me, as they seemed much smaller than the ones I’m used to. A smaller dumpling means less broth as well. The good side to this is that I didn’t scald my mouth when the dumpling burst. There was just enough to add flavor to the dumpling.
The broth was steamy, meaty perfection, rounded off with fragrant notes of ginger. Don’t even think about popping the dumpling and letting the broth run out – you’ll waste the best part. If you must, pop it over a spoon and slurp it separately.
To go with your soup dumplings
In case you want something besides xiaolongbao, here’s what you can try.
The Cucumber Salad is crisp and refreshing, while the vinegar-based seasoning packs it with flavor.
The portion size of the Braised Beef Noodle Soup is generous enough to sare as a side. The beef melts in your mouth.
If you are craving a little heat, the Shrimp and Pork Wontons with Spicy Sauce is a good bet.
You won’t find a separate kids menu here, but the staff didn’t bat an eye at my bringing Izzy in, and I saw older children there eating from the adult menu. I believe in encouraging adventurous eating anyway!
Additionally, there were changing facilities in the bathroom and no one said anything when I nursed Izzy, which was so appreciated.
Tip: If you want to avoid the long wait, go right when it opens. The restaurant was empty at 10:00 AM but by the time we left there was already a line out the door! Nothing spoils a family meal like a long wait.
Where should I go next?
I’m always on the lookout for exciting foods in my home of western Washington. Leave a comment with your recommendation!