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Dubai: Xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung - Dubai

I was excited to hear that Din Tai Fung had opened in Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, but I was also skeptical. Din Tai Fung’s signature xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are heavily pork based, and I was told that in Dubai, those dumplings would be made with seafood, chicken and lamb instead.

Hmmm…and that’s a big HMMM! Messing around with the basics sounded like risky business, but I decided to come with an open mind, when I met with Haiya and Judy for a blogger date at Din Tai Fung in Dubai a couple of weeks ago.

First we had seaweed salad and cucumber salad. I’ve had the cucumber salad at other DTF branches before, and it’s nice and slightly spicy. The seaweed salad is a DTF classic, but new to me, and I liked it a lot.

We then had the very affordable Chicken Xiao Long Bao (22AED/6pcs) and Crab & Chicken Xiao Long Bao (36AED/6pcs), but decided to skip the not-so-affordable Truffle Xiao Long Bao (15AED/1pc). We also had Szechuan Vegetable & Chicken wontons and some other vegetable wontons. The xiao long bao was delicious, and I still can’t figure out how they’ve managed to hit their well-known pork broth taste so perfectly without the use of pork. I guess the concentrated taste of chicken just does an excellent job as a piggy stand-in, and I don’t think anyone would miss the pork dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Dubai.

In the menu pictures, the Szechuan wontons looked like the spicy wontons I’ve had at other Din Tai Fung restaurants (most recently in Singapore, where they were called spicy wontons), but the Dubai version was definitely spicier. Though spicy doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and the Szechuan wontons left a fierce and delicious impression. The only thing I didn’t like was the vegetable wontons. They looked like ravioli and they also tasted like slightly dry and bland ravioli, but I’m sure they would have done great in a rich cream sauce with mushrooms.

Overall, it was a really nice meal, and I’m so happy that there’s now a DTF in Dubai. I’m also happy to have met Haiya and Judy. They’re two really nice and funny girls and I’m looking forward to our future foodie dates.

My blog post about Din Tai Fung in Singapore and how to eat a soup dumpling >>

Din Tai Fung

Mall of the Emirates, Level 2, Dubai
>Visit Din Tai Fung’s website

The Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung came to Dubai in 2015. It soon became the most popular place to eat in Mall of the Emirates, and I think the restaurant has been packed ever since they opened.
Din Tai Fung is internationally renowned for xiao long bao, soup dumplings, which they make to perfection. If you haven’t had soup dumplings yet, I can only recommend a visit to Din Tai Fung, because their soup dumplings are without a doubt among the best in the world.

Din Tai Fung originally make their xiao long bao with pork meat, but in Dubai, they use chicken instead of pork. That substitution works surprisingly well, and if you haven’t tried the original with pork, I don’t think you would miss it.

Din Tai Fung is located inside Mall of the Emirates, and mall restaurants are never very charming. Though compared to other Din Tai Fung restaurants around the world (I’ve been to a lot), the location isn’t that bad.
If there’s a line, the staff will write your name on a list and give you this beeper-thing, which flashes and vibrates, when a table is ready.

The line is often quite long, but it moves quickly, and you rarely have to wait more than 15-20 minutes. After you’re seated, you write down your order, and the food is then served, as soon as it’s ready. On the table, there’s a guide to how you eat the dumplings. Be careful not to burn your mouth. You dip the dumplings in a sauce you mix at the table. The recommended mix is ¾ vinegar and ¼ soy sauce, but I personally prefer the sauce with a little more soy.

Din Tai Fung is located in a shopping mall, so they don’t serve alcohol.

What to order? At Din Tai Fung, you have to try the Crab & Chicken Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings – 36AED for 6 dumplings), but the Szechuan Shrimp & Chicken Wontons are also really good. Truffle xiao long bao are also tasty, but expensive (15AED for 1).

Read the guide to Chinese food in Dubai (Pilots + Cabin Crew) >>

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