DTF at Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) Causeway Bay
Price: $130 HKD (per head)
Dined at: 7.30PM
Rating: 9/10 

Din Tai Fung, the taiwanese restaurant chain that is synonymous with reliable and high quality Shanghainese cuisine is forever in my book of 'safe' restaurants to go to when I really run out of ideas, or if I don't know an area very well. Din Tai Fung is a chain, yes, but still remains a full service restaurant. And unlike most other chains, everyone loves Din Tai Fung. I've never met a DTF detractor. Nor should they be, Din Tai Fung has a winning formula, pumping out awesome Shanghainese food in a familiar environment with a level of efficiency and friendliness that can only be described as frighteningly good. 

Oh, yeah, and then there are the Xiao Long Bao. The world famous xiao long bao. The small soup filled dumpling that has turned this small taiwanese restaurant into a global empire. Being able to watch these orgasmic little pockets of heaven being made in the open kitchens is always a bit of a treat too. 

This particular night I had the somewhat tricky task of finding six hungry Australian & Canadians somewhere to eat in Causeway Bay without a reservation. The bay aint exactly known for its cheap eats, so when I remembered that a new Din Tai Fung had opened up on Yee Woo Gai, we made a beeline. Despite having a large party and there being a typically large cue outside, the stars aligned and a table of 6 was free right away. 

First to come are the sichuan snake beans with pork mine (gan bian sijidou), one of those classic sichuan dishes you can't go past. DTF don't make theirs too la (spicy) but the lovely taste of the touban jiang (chilli bean) is still there. 

The Dan Dan noodles go down well. A spicy noodle and crushed peanut dish served in a slightly coconutty broth. Delicious. 

Fried Dou Miao (water spinach) may be a little hard to come across in some menus in Hong Kong, but it's my favourite green. Lightly fried with garlic, and oyster sauce, it tastes simple and healthy.

But all of these things are just leading up to the sweet anticipation of watching a server arrive with a handful of broad steamers, filled with Xiao Long Bao. If there were a savoury version of a ferrero rocher, this would be it. Small morsels of soft pork meat suspended by a hot savoury master stock floating precariously inside of the dumpling, wrapped masterfully in a soft and thin skin with sixteen perfect top folds (each one has to have sixteen folds). Oh, listen to me gush. 

For the unenlightened who are yet to experience xiao long bao (and thus having never truly lived a worthwhile life), you carefully dip the dumpling in a mixture of one part soy sauce, two parts vinegar and garnish the dumpling with one or two thin slices of ginger before putting the heavenly thing in your mouth, before it explodes and soup goes everywhere and you make a mess. Soup may be dribbling out of your mouth, and landing on your friends, but it doesn't matter because in that one brief moment when the dumpling bursts, you are in pure ecstasy. It's the closest you can get to achieving an orgasm with food, without a can of whipped cream and a naked individual. 

Other things we ate (which are obviously not as important but for the sake of being thorough) are the Chilli Oil wontons, which everyone loved, and the pork and vegetable dumplings (just regular wo tip style). 

If I could afford to eat at Din Tai Fung all the time, then I would. But maybe not being able to is a good thing, it builds up anticipation for the next time I can go and debase myself with a couple of baskets of xiao long bao. DTF? Yes, very much so.