Mom and I went to Din Tai Fung today for lunch. We got there around 1pm and it was about a 45 minute wait. So we went around the corner where the 2nd establishment is at and only had to wait 10 minutes for a seat. We sat on the 2nd floor.
I have been to Din Tai Fung plenty of times. The first few times I had it, I was fairly impressed, but now it's just kind of...eh.
They are known for their Juicy Pork Dumplings which are petite and delicately wrapped in thin dough. The first bite you take in squirts out a hot liquid like an incontinent pig pissing inside your mouth. Yeah...it's that good.
The Pork Chop Noodle Soup came rather quickly after that. It has a light flavor with chopped green onions, good for those who don't like heavy oily stuff; not good for those who do and don't like onions. I would have prefered that the pork chop be put on another plate instead of soaking inside the soup like a wet soggy kitten.
Next came the Shrimp and Pork Shiaomai. It is decent enough, not too shrimpy, like some places whose dishes reeks of dead fish with any seafood related foods.
Mom ordered a 2nd Juicy Pork Dumpling. It was much hotter and fresher than the first one that came out.
Service was overall pretty fast and efficient until then. We still had a dessert dish. Mom had to ask at least three times if it was coming and they kept saying they were checking on it. Mom went to the bathroom and the dish still hadn't arrived when she got back.
At first I was thinking how efficient the service typically is. They give you a menu to fill out while you wait so that by the time you're seated, your food is being made; and hence is brought out fairly quickly. I think this may be an illusion though considering that the first set of dumplings that were brought out was mildly warm, not really piping hot. They would have to constantly make the dumplings because that is their most popular menu. Virtually everyone gets it; so that in fact that dumplings aren't really custom made. And if they ran out of something, then they've ran out and the chefs aren't going to bother making them just for you.
Therefore, for dessert items, which aren't as popular, does require a longer wait as we had experienced.
While we waited for our dessert, mom wanted to inform me that normal urine color is the color of tea. Maybe a little lighter. I had told her earlier normal urine color should be clear. If it's too yellow, it means you're dehydrated. Mom doesn't like drinking water or tea, so naturally I was a bit concerned.
Our dessert arrived eventually. It's the Red Bean Rice Cake. It's a white spongy cake with red bean inside. They tried to cheer it up by adding red and green jelly dots on top. It tastes ok. Those who have a serious sweettooth wouldn't enjoy it though. It is not sweet at all. I like the fact that it was made fresh, even though we had to wait awhile (I think they forgot about us), soft and dry on the outside...and soft and oozy (but not too oozy) on the inside.
I've noticed that at this new establishment, the servers are not as friendly and attentive as the first. The table next to us were a couple with two young daughters. The couple wanted water and kept trying to get the server's attention. They finally succeeded by waving their hands frantically and calling out "hello!" The server turned her head, said "hello" back and walked off. The couple gave each other a "wtf" type of look. The server then walked back to the table and they said they wanted water, that they had asked for it three times already with nothing. I think they only get the male server to get the waters because I didn't see any of the females serve water. There were like 3 female servers and 1 male server.
All the servers except one (maybe she's the head manager) are all equipped with microphone head sets. I'm assuming this is to communicate with the cooks in the back and with each other to see if people's dishes are ready. They didn't do too good of a job with checking on our desserts though.
This place doesn't provide water unless you ask. They do provide a pot of tea though which I do enjoy. They don't offer to pour it for you though.
The restaurant attracts all types of people. Screaming babies are not my favorite type of people though. I noticed that the baby that was screaming was screaming out of satisfaction. He didn't look angry or upset or anything, so that is what I'm concluding. And I've realized that happy screaming babies are the worst because the more you appease them, the more they will scream and there really is nothing you can do in public about that. Whereas, if they were screaming out of anger and hate, there is hope you can quiet them down by bribing them and such. Just thought I'd share that bit of baby insight as I'm on the topic of babies in resturants.
Overall, the food is ok. However, for food that is just ok, it is a tad bit pricey. They could attempt to improve the flavor by mixing spices in or something to justify the cost.
They give you all the soy sauce and vinegar you need. However, they are stingy with salt and pepper- there are none to be found.
The decor consists of some framed Chinese pictures and characters. The only plants are some cat nip looking grass in pots.
My initial thought was that DTF is a convenient place to eat out at because it's local and so close to home. But because of the crowds, it is not that convenient due to the long wait. And the only time when there isn't a crowd is when it's not during peak hours (ie lunch time between the hours of 10:30 am and 2pm; and between 5pm and 7pm is packed!) which means you would have to wait until everyone's eaten first, not a problem if you're not hungry; but if you're not hungry, why would you be eating? What a Catch-22.
I think during the early days, DTF was worth going to because there wasn't another dumpling place like it around. Now, with all the crowds and other restaurants with decent food popping up as alternatives, it is definitely overhyped.