Eat Here: Din Tai Fung, Centre PointBy Sofia Savage
I remember when Din Tai Fung were set to open their first restaurant in Covent Garden a few years ago. Oh, the hype. Oh, the anticipation. The famous Taiwan-born dumpling and noodle hotspot which is slowly but surely making its way across the globe was finally landing in London, one steaming soup parcel at a time. And now, three London sites later, we are arriving at their brand-new Centre Point location, where we lay our scene.
Ding Tai Fung: The Lowdown
A few things to note about this new Din Tai Fung. The first is the building. It’s grand. Inside, it’s warm. The décor is stylish and chic. It’s open planned so diners, in true Din Tai Fung style, can peek into the dumpling kitchen to see the dumplings being lovingly dumpled together by masses of chefs in the whitest of whites. It has seats at the bar which look like pink marshmallows. It has robots. Robots that emerge from somewhere mysterious (obviously the kitchen) to deliver orders to delighted photo-taking diners. Our dishes were, unfortunately, not delivered by a robot, but this didn’t take away from the experience.
Ding Tai Fung: The Food
The menu is exactly like you’d see in any other Din Tai Fung – long and full of an incredibly diverse range of dumplings, wontons, bao, noodles and soups. Choosing, if you don’t know what you like, can take a bit of a mental toll but at a certain point, you just have to go for it. There are pictures to help guide you, ones which actually look nice (which isn’t always the case when you have pictures on
We’ll start with the dishes that were a bit on the ‘meh’ side (and this is only in comparison to the others, which were definitely not ‘meh’). The cabbage and chicken gyoza were good but we’ve had equally decent ones bought frozen from an excellent Korean supermarket. Also on the slightly disappointing side were the dan dan noodles, which we’ve had at DTF before – but decided to give another go to check if the first experience was a fluke, or if they’re just not as good as what you’ll find in Chinatown. It was, sadly, the latter.
Those minor quibbles aside – the rest of the dishes we tried were divine. The Pork Xiao Long Bao burst in your mouth with incredible, delicate flavour, soup oozing and meat tender. The Prawn & Pork Shao Mai are wonderfully balanced with just enough crunch and hits of salty sweetness. The Pork and Vegetable Wontons in Spicy Sauce were smooth and light, with just a hint of lingering spiciness. And the Chilli Crab & Pork Buns, soft and pillowy dough, sweet and umami-y filling, were deeply satisfying. The sides – Sauteed String Beans with Minced Pork & Dried Shrimp, and Cucumber in Spicy Sauce – a nice burst of fresh vegetable flavour in the midst of quite hefty amounts of delicate dough and meat.
Ding Tai Fung: The Verdict
All in all, a success – in part because the food is always consistently good, and also because the venue has an exciting wow factor. We’d definitely recommend Din Tai Fung as a solid option for dependable Chinese food in the city.