La Mian & Xiao Long Bao @ Din Tai Fung, Paragon

After a gruelling week at work and my first gym workout in months, I was starving and couldn't wait to get my paws on food. My dinner companion was still stuck in the office, so I decided to do dinner on my own and meet her another day.I skipped over to a nearby Din Tai Fung outlet for comfort food and to lick my wounds from a tiring gym workout. Ok, ok, confession-time... Actually, my workout was not tough as I was aching all over from various work-related injuries (backache from slouching at the computer, right shoulder & right wrist pain from excessive use of the name a few) but ANY comfort food is always good after a stressful work week!

Despite all the accolades that Din Tai Fung has won [most notably having been ranked by The New York Times as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the World], it was not my favourite place to go for Xiao Long Bao (steamed Shanghainese pork dumplings filled with soup). I prefer the ones served at Crystal Jade. That said, no visit to Din Tai Fung is ever complete without consuming any Xiao Long Bao so I ordered a bamboo steamer tray of 6.

Hmm, looking at the soupy dumplings set my gastric juices running. The distinguishing feature of Din Tai Fung's dumplings is that the chefs would make 18 folds to seal the dumplings (which helps to ensure that patrons will not have to contend with biting into a blob of dumpling dough at the top).

Xiao Long Bao @ Din Tai Fung

I love dumplings especially Xiao Long Bao! Why? I love picking up a dumpling, placing it onto my porcelain spoon, then using my chopsticks to poke a little hole in the skin of the dumpling to let the soup flow out onto the spoon, followed by sipping the soup and adding julienned ginger (soaked in black vinegar) on top of the dumpling before biting into it (temperature permitting). A cautionary note about eating Xiao Long Bao is that the soup is usually so hot that an unsuspecting consumer might scald the tongue and throat if he/she popped the entire dumpling into the mouth without first allowing it to cool down a little.The Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung were tasty and didn't have a strong porky odour (unlike the ones that I had at another popular establishment). In short, it exceeded my expectations since my last visit to one of their outlets. I think its likely that the Paragon branch churns out better dumplings than the branches at Wisma Atria and Raffles City.

Ginger Strips @ Din Tai Fung

Speaking of eating Xiao Long Bao, the scene that appealed most to me in the controversial movie "Lust Caution", was how daintily the ladies were eating the dumplings! I felt like I needed Shanghainese dining etiquette lessons on "The Exquisite Art of Consuming Xiao Long Bao". :P

Vegetable Wanton La Mian @ Din Tai Fung

I'm undeniably a major carb freak and boy, was I craving carb after the gym workout! I ordered a Vegetable Dumpling La Mian(noodles) to complement my Xiao Long Bao. I know, its a LOT of carb for a late dinner and my Personal Trainer would probably give me hell if he found out. The noodles here were not fabulous as the broth, while tasty lacked the oomph factor that a similar bowl of noodles would have had at a Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao outlet. I have a bias for the flavourful broths served at Crystal Jade.Nonetheless, the broth here is reasonably good and the dumplings are tasty. This is still worth a try.

Din Tai Fung - Paragon Shopping Centre 290 Orchard Road #B1-03/06 Paragon Shopping Centre Singapore 238859 Phone: 6836 8336

Din Tai Fung - Wisma Atria 435 Orchard Road #02-48 Wisma Atria Singapore 238877 Phone: 6732 1383

Din Tai Fung - Raffles City 252 North Bridge Road #03-21B Raffles City Shopping Centre Singapore 179103 Phone: 6336 6369

Din Tai Fung - Bishan Junction 8 9 Bishan Place #01-41 Junction 8 Shopping Centre Singapore 579837 Phone: 6356 5228

Din Tai Fung - Tampines Mall 4 Tampines Central 5 #02-01/31 Tampines Mall Singapore 529510 Phone: 6787 0998

Operating Hours: Mondays - Fridays: 11am - 10pm Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays: 10am - 10pm (Last Order @ 9.30pm)

* PS: My friends tell me that Din Tai Fung in Taiwan is far better than DTF in Singapore. If you're in Taiwan, do try DTF and perhaps you might have an experience befitting the NYT rating.