Founder Yang Bingyi initially worked ten years at Heng Tai Fung, a cooking oil retailer in Taiwan. He then wanted to branch out on his own to support his family. With his Hakka wife, Lai Penmei, he founded a cooking oil retailer in 1958. They named it Din Tai Fung by combining the names of Yang's previous employer, "Heng Tai Fung", and their new supplier, "DinMei Oils".
Around 1970, tinned cooking oil became prevalent, and business diminished drastically. Heng Tai Fung's owner suggested that to survive, Yang and Lai convert half the shop to making and selling steamed buns (xiaolongbao). The buns grew so popular that the store stopped selling oil altogether and became a full-fledged restaurant in 1972. The original restaurant is on Xinyi Road in Taipei.
The restaurant is vast, with a see-through cabin where their highly trained dumpling artisans can be watched making each of the restaurant’s specialities. It has the kind of cool neutrality that takes it a step up from the kind of apathetic practicality of much of Chinatown, but it isn’t quite as modern and crisp as, say, A Wong or Duddell’s. It probably verges more towards casual than smart, however, and when it’s packed (and it will be packed) it’s got a great energy.
The xiao long bao, a type of dumpling that contains both broth and filling, are an art form, but not one entirely unfamiliar to London diners. But nowhere takes them as seriously as Din Tai Fung, where chefs are trained for months in how to make them. You even get a guide on how best to eat your bao, though weirdly it was removed from the table before our dumplings actually arrived. They are the speciality for a reason: the soup is delicious, the filling a delight, the dough delicate and yet seemingly foolproof. Even as two incompetent white men, we only broke one.
Beyond these, however, much on the menu seemed incomplete. Perhaps this is because several crucial ingredients are holed up in customs and have yet to arrive, meaning certain dishes can’t even be ordered. Of the ones that remain, many lack salt, meaning every flavour feels like it’s calling to you from an adjoining room. The braised beef was a shade tough too, and the pork and glutinous rice siu mai really leaned into the word “glutinous”.
According to en.wikipedia and gq-magazine.co.uk