Melbourne has always played a strong dumpling game. I have much love for Shan Dong Ma Ma and of course Hutong. But I do feel Melbourne’s dumpling dominance is now complete with the arrival of iconic Taiwanese chain Ding Tai Fung.
I first tried Ding Tai Fung’s dumplings a few years ago in Singapore and was immediately hooked. I was devasted when Din Tai Fung chose to open its first Australian outpost in Sydney rather than Melbourne. The outrage! What a relief to our city’s pride that Ding Tai Fung has now opened at the top level of the Emporium in the City. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all the Taiwanese bureaucracy and “quirks” of Ding Tai Fung are living it large in Melbourne’s own version.
There are long queues (although with a buzzer), clipboard menus you tick off before you enter, dumpling makers in surgical style face masks and little covers to put over your coat if you hang it on the back of your chair. They really have thought of everything when it comes to both efficiency and hygiene.
Din Tai Fung is most famous for its XLBs ($10.80 for 6) so these are a definite much order. Din Tai Fung’s version is slightly smaller than the standard XLB but are intricate and delicate with an impressive 18 pleats per dumpling. I can’t rave enough about that broth explosion in your mouth when you bite into them.
The other dumplings here are also on the money. The shrimp and pork shao mai are meaty but not stodgy ($10.80 for four). I can also recommend the spinach doused in lashings of garlic ($13.80). What Din Tai Fung doesn’t deliver on is the pork buns ($3 each). The buns here just don’t have the fluffiness and sweetness I’ve come to expect from a great pork bun. Stick to the dumplings, instead. You really are in expert hands. Welcome Din Tai Fung to a city where you should feel right at home.
Details: Din Tai Fung, Level 4, Emporium Shopping Centre, 287 Lonsdale street, Melbourne
Damage: Reasonable. Our bill for two came to $50 with drinks.