One of Sydney’s best dumpling houses, Din Tai Fung, opens in the North Shore.
It’s generally considered to be a good sign when it’s a Tuesday night and there’s already a line at the door.
The latest in the Din Tai Fung chain recently threw its doors open in Chatswood (the next one is scheduled to open at Central Park – watch this space), and locals are already flocking in by the masses for steaming baskets of pork dumplings.
Din Tai Fung straddles Anderson St on one side, and the ground level of Westfield, on the other. Anderson St has been transformed. Not too long ago it was no man’s land, where you wouldn’t linger any longer than it took you to hurry from one half of Westfield to the other. A several-month-long renewal project has turned the street – now flanked by Din Tai Fung, Hurricane Grill, and Kingston & Co – into an inviting eat street – somewhere to while away the evenings.
So, let’s get back to those dumplings.
Oodles of dumplings at Din Tai Fung
The vibe: Sleek and buzzing.
Ideal for: Larger groups of any type: sharing is the way to go.
Try the...Black Truffle Pork Dumplings ($4.80 each)
By the way...When the wonton soup comes out, don’t wait – dig straight in.
They almost need no introduction, but anyone not familiar with Din Tai Fung should know straight up that these are some of the best in Sydney. Behind glass windows, chefs in white hats prepare them with clockwork efficiency. There’s something very ‘Santa’s workshop’ about it all, with food parcels instead of gift ones, and baskets stacked high in place of stockings. When one such basket reaches your table, you’ll lift the lid on six steaming dumplings, but you probably won’t see the precision that goes into making each one. Every single dumpling that passes through the Din Tai Fung kitchen is hand-made to weigh between 4.8g and 5.2g, with exactly 20.8g to 21.2g of filling inside, and measures precisely 6cm in diameter.
But you don’t really need to know that. All you need to know is that the steamed pork dumplings ($10.80 for six) are exactly as good as you’d expect, and the black truffle pork dumplings ($4.80 each) are even better.
One of the little quirks on the menu are the rainbow dumplings, which will either make you squeal in childish delight, or wrinkle your nose in disgust. The different colours correlate to different flavours, so if cheese dumplings (the citrine ones), BBQ pork dumplings (the onyx ones), and bolognaise dumplings (the ruby ones) seem like your sort of thing, go right ahead. In the name of adventure we gave it a go, but in the end the cheese ones were a little nauseating. BBQ Pork? Not so bad.
However, the rest of the menu hits the mark. In the non-dumpling corner you’ve got a surprisingly good mango shrimp roll, which sounds like it’s destined for disaster but comes away crunchy, creamy, and sweetly flavoured. Spicy wonton soup also makes a heartier meal, but you might want to balance the hot flavours with a cool (and non-alcoholic) lychee mint freeze. Refreshing, light, and delicious.
The Chatswood Din Tai Fung has made clever use of a space once occupied by a hairdresser and a discount store. It’s long, dark, and moody, with large windows looking out to the street outside. In fact, you’d be forgiven for forgetting you’re in Westfield at all. We did. And we weren’t even drinking – usually the coverall excuse for mislaid facts.
The service, of course, is exemplary. Just as one waiter is bringing a hamper for your bag, another is checking on the status of your order, and a third is setting those thirst-quenching lychee mint freezes onto your table. It’s early days and already they’re a well-oiled machine, which anyone who’s worked in hospitality will tell you is no mean feat.
For the first time in perhaps ever, Chatswood feels like somewhere fun to be at night. Walk down the street, and throngs of people walk with you, ducking in and out of the dozens of bars, restaurants, and late night cafes.
Din Tai Fung is definitely part of that. So when you head down, book first – or you might miss out.