When I first heard a Din Tai Fung location would be opening in Costa Mesa, I was ecstatic. Even with locations across Asia, and the United States, most people that I know have never heard of or tried Din Tai Fung. Din Tai Fung specializes in xiaolongbao, a streamed bun which resembles a dumpling or soup dumpling.
Well, once the location finally opened, it took me about four months to visit. Why? I was afraid of the long waits which can be upwards of two hours on weekends.
Here is a tip: if you have a small group and you see seats open at the bar, sit there. You can order the full menu from the bar and skip the long waits for a table.
Here is my review of Din Tai Fung in Costa Mesa:
Pork Xiaolongbao – $9.50/10 pieces
If you are unsure what to order or you are new to xiaolongbao, then maybe you should try the popular, and delicious, Pork Xiaolongbao.
The pork xiaolongbao served here are somewhat a work of art. Each dumpling is almost identical even though they are made by hand. This is something to admire before you eat.
The best way to eat these awesome bundles of flavor is to grab one with your chopsticks, hold it over your spoon, and take a small bite. The small bite releases delicious, and extremely hot, broth. So be careful not to burn your mouth.
Now you can dip the soft dumpling in soy sauce and chili oil and eat it in one big bite if you can handle it. After you finish eating each dumpling, don’t forget the broth left in the spoon.
The intense flavors of the pork and broth are amazing and leave you wanting more. The pork inside is tender while the skin of the dumpling is soft and light.
Shrimp & Pork Shao Mai – $12/10 pieces
If you think the pork xiaolongbao are delicious, then wait until you try the Shrimp & Pork Shao Mai. These shrimp and pork dumplings are by far my favorite item at Din Tai Fung. As I write this post, I’m upset that I’m not eating it now.
The first thing you will notice with these dumplings are the pieces of bright orange shrimp at the top of each dumpling that forms something that resembles a tower. A tower of flavor.
At first bite, you get hit immediately with a strong seafood flavor from the shrimp. Before you know it, rich broth of pork and shrimp begins to flow. The mixture is sublime. At the bottom of the dumpling you will find more pork.
Pork and shrimp. Can’t go wrong with that wonder combination. These things are special.
Pork Bun – $2.70/1 piece
If you’re hungry and don’t want to spend too much, I recommend ordering a few Pork Buns. The buns are quite filling and well worth it for the price.
These fluffy buns are quite simple but taste great. On the outside is a large doughy soft bun. On the inside is a delicious ball of pork.
The easiest way to eat these monster size buns is with your hands. Pick the bun up, dip it in soy sauce, which soaks up tons of flavor, and take a big bite. It might take a few bites to reach the pork in the middle.
These buns don’t contain broth like the other soup dumplings, so no need to worry about burning your mouth.
On my visit to Din Tai Fung, I sat at the bar so I can only speak about the service there. Service at the bar was great and attentive as the area is small and there were many workers ready to serve. I believe it’s a lot quicker to order at the bar than waiting for a waitress. Another great thing about the bar is that it is located next to the kitchen so your food arrives quicker when it is ready.
I don’t think I can ever get bored of Din Tai Fung. It may be a chain restaurant but you know what to expect when you visit any of their locations in the world.
Just remember to try to grab a seat at the bar or visit during off peak hours such as before dinner and avoid weekends.
3333 Bristol St
Space 2071 Upper Level
Costa Mesa, CA 92626