In 1993, The New York Times named this restaurant “One of Top 10 Gourmet Restaurants in the World.” In 2012, Los Angeles Times Readers voted it “Best Chinese Restaurant” of Southern California. Founded in 1958 and headquartered in Taiwan, DinTaiFung has several locations in Japan much to my delight. If you are already familiar with their XiaoLongBao then you’ll know how extremely good these delicate steamed dumplings are. If not, then I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s a world famous brand dish!
What is XiaoLongBao? They are buns traditionally steamed in bamboo baskets with a soupy center. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the key to the savory soupy center is that it is made with a collagen-rich pig skin that is solid at low temperatures but melts into liquid when the dumpling is steamed. They have thin skins, exactly 18 pleats a piece. The chefs use electronic scales to make sure each dumpling weighs exactly 21 grams before steaming.
Let’s get started! First, hot jasmine tea is delivered to your table. Keep in mind this is a Taiwanese restaurant so the plates are smaller than usual; they’re just large enough to enjoy XiaoLongBao one at a time. The menu has pictures of every dish along with English translations and calorie count, so it makes ordering very simple. If you won’t have room to try various dishes from the menu such as Steamed Dumplings, Buns, Soups or Noodles, you must be sure to have their specialty, XiaoLongBao, and save room for dessert (the steamed mango dumplings are my favorite!). Lastly, follow the step-by-step guide to enjoy the XiaoLongBao: 1) Put sauce into ginger dish, 2) Take XiaoLongBao with chopsticks and dip in the sauce (grab them from the pleats), 3) Place XiaoLongBao in the Chinese spoon and poke a small hole to release the broth, 4) Enjoy XiaoLongBao with some ginger and the broth. Caution, contents are hot!
On the DinTaiFung website, there is reference to a Top 20 list. However, I am more than happy to share with you my favorites here! Stir Fry Water Spinach ¥840, Pork XiaoLongBao (Steamed Pork Dumplings with Pork Soup, 6 pcs) ¥819, Three Sorted Steamed Seafood Dumplings ¥1,197, Shrimp & Pork Shao-Mai, 6 pcs ¥945, Shrimp & Pork Wonton Noodle Soup ¥1,155, Three Sorted Steamed Sweet Dumplings (Red bean, Mango & Purple Sweet Potato) ¥630, and Fried Rice with Shrimp ¥1,050. For three people this selection was definitely filling.
Altogether, DinTaiFung has eighteen locations serving Japan. The closest one to Yokosuka is at the Takashimaya Department Store in Yokohama. Located on the 8th Floor of the Rose Dining section, plan on being there early or you’ll probably have to queue up by taking a seat along the wall. But it’s definitely worth the wait! By train, exit JR Yokohama Station (West Entrance). If traveling by car, Takashimaya Parking is free for the first 90 minutes if you make one purchase of 2,000 yen or more.