So the other day my fiance and I decided we wanted to get away from the Westside for just a little bit and go somewhere to eat. Somewhere that would be worth drive. Downtown LA? Nah, there all the time. Silver Lake? Uh, don’t think I can take seeing another skinny guy in skinny jeans so early in the morning. Need somewhere farther. That’s when Din Tai Fung popped into my head. I wasn’t necessarily craving Chinese food flavors on that particular Sunday morning, but when images of Din Tai Fung’s succulent little spinach dumplings started swirling in my head, my mind was made up. It was time to embark on the 45-minute drive to Arcadia.
This wasn’t our first time to Din Tai Fung, but it had been a good while since our last visit. We decided to pick up my parents along the way seeing as how it was an early Sunday afternoon and I figured the restaurant couldn’t be that busy even we arrived an hour after it opened. Wrong. There must’ve been a crowd of about 40 people just waiting around for their number to be called. I freaked out a little bit. Only because all of us were starving. And my dad is a notoriously impatient man when it comes to stuff like this.
Fortunately, even though the really nice hostess wearing the Janet Jackson headset said it would be at least 45 minutes, it really ended up being only 20. (FYI, they all wear those headsets. It’s what makes this place such a smooth operation.) Which is a good thing ’cause I really don’t wait in line at restaurants. I usually make reservations. And yeah, maybe I got a little of that impatience from good ol’ dad. Either way, whether it’s a weekend morning or weekday afternoon, this place is jamming. But the line always seems to dwindle more quickly than the staff will tell you, so don’t let the throngs scare you.
So what did we get? The usual. Tons of dumplings: the signature juicy pork that pops in your mouth like a mini liquid explosion; shrimp & pork; veggie & pork; crab & pork. And for me, the almighty vegetarian dumplings. These are by far the best of them all. Even my parents agreed and my dad was the one who earlier that morning was hoping to get a pastrami sandwich.
Another one of the green delights you just cannot miss at Din Tai Fung is the sauteed garlic spinach. So garlicky and wickedly wiltedly good is this stuff that we ordered another just to take home. It left a little rough texture behind my teeth and beneath my tongue (my mom said the same thing) but I didn’t care. The sandpaper cat-tongue side effect was well worth it. The fried noodles with shrimp was also a hit. So greasily good! We did the chicken version but the shrimp’s better. As for the parental units, they absolutely loved it.
In fact, it was so good we went again the following Sunday.
UPDATE: A new outpost of Din Tai Fung has headed to the Americana at Brand in Glendale as of September 2013. (And a new Nordstrom, too. LOVEZ!!!)
More info: www.dintaifungusa.com
Lifestyle writer Mar Yvette is on a mission to bring you the best people, places and products to make your life pop!