Din Tai Fung, The Gardens Mall

I remember having an entire meal made up of dumplings when we were in Beijing a few years ago - dumpling after dumpling arrived at our table and after awhile, we couldn't tell the pork-chive ones from the pork-carrot ones from the vegetarian ones. A serious case of over-dumpling-ness. That didn't put me off dumplings, though - in fact, it was that dumpling meal that got me taking dumplings seriously, not just as a side dish to a main meal but as the star of the meal in its own right.

Din Tai Fung
The Gardens Mall,
Mid Valley City
LG207, Lower Ground Floor
Tel: +603 22832292

We were on one of our mother-daughter weekend shopping excursions in Mid Valley City and were looking for a place to re-energise after all that exercise (read: looking out for good deals should be a sport). I have to admit, the pictures at the entrance of Din Tai Fung are quite a good idea - we were tempted at first glance. Dumplings galore - that's difficult to resist.

Xiao long bao - pork and broth encased in a thin, delicate dumpling skin, perhaps the star of the menu. Best eaten hot, and with a tiny bit of vinegar and fresh ginger.

Shao mai - we weren't expecting it to be a twist on the xiao long bao, but we aren't complaining. The dumplings looked a lot like flowers in their vases and unlike the usual shao mai, these little pockets contained the xiao long bao broth as well.

Their vegetable and dumplings are delicious, if you like your veggies. The first time we ordered these dumplings, the waitress informed us that the dumplings would filled with more greens than pork and very kindly asked us if we would be alright with that. We were more than "alright with that", and have ordered these on every visit since. Dip in a bit of chilli for an extra kick.

Din Tai Fung doesn't just serve up dumplings and this is perhaps my favourite non-dumpling dish, pumpkin fried in salted egg. Coated with a delicious layer of salted egg, the chunks of pumpkin are crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. I had never had this combination of ingredients before this and I've been wondering why ever since.

La mian with minced pork and mustard greens.

The menu also features a selection of la mian (pulled noodles) and rice dishes. The noodles are lovely and smooth and broth-based noodle dishes are generally light, mild (but flavourful) affairs. One gets a choice between normal and Japanese rice for the rice dishes and on what visit the brother ordered a serving of fried pork and shrimp Japanese rice, which was pleasant but paled a little in comparison to the other more punchy dishes on the table.

Pork and shrimp fried rice

Eating at Din Tai Fung may require a bit of strategising as there's always, always a queue at conventional meal times. However, despite the crowd, waiting times are generally not very long - they seem to have an incredibly efficient system both with handling the crowd and queue as well as with food preparation. My guess is that that's what's kept people coming back, on top of the food, of course.

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