Is Din Tai Fung worth the hype?

Jerry Hu, Staff Writer


Din Tai Fung has been an extremely popular restaurant for many years. It has consistently been a top restaurants in Orange County, and it is rare to see the place without a line. The food is very authentic and up to date with superior quality as well. However, are the high prices and excruciatingly long wait times worth it?

When it comes to quality, the items presented were well constructed through presentation and taste. The food is made fresh in a clean kitchen with a glass wall for viewing. Taste-wise, it is just a tiny bit blander than the Chinese food I have had in China. Living in China for eight years, I was gladly surprised to see many similar ingredients in traditional restaurants, used at Din Tai Fung. Keep in mind, it doesn’t ruin the overall taste, it is just a personal critique. The service was great as expected, and it is an overall worthwhile experience.

In terms of the food, I believe that this meal was better than my mom’s Chinese at home. The Xiao Long Bao, their specialty, was mouth-watering and bursting with flavor. Still, I don’t believe it was worth $20 for 10 pieces of small-sized dumplings. The Sweet & Spicy Baby Back Pork Ribs were very tender and were the perfect amount of crispy. For dessert, my friends and I finished off with the Chocolate Xiao Long Bao; I was very disappointed. I expected something more intricate and sophisticated; however, it was underwhelming and small. 

The bill for four people came out to $150, which almost doubles the average place that serves traditional Chinese food. For what it’s worth, a person could get the same attention to quality at a different restaurant. It is somewhat worth the price, but it is not a place that someone can go to on a regular basis. In addition, the portions are not enough for what it’s worth. Understanding the current state of the world and inflation, the price is not extremely high, but it is still more expensive than  other places. Even with the great service that was provided, I believe that the prices are still not rational. 

The lines are long as usual, so be prepared to wait hours on end or arrive ahead of normal dining hours. In order to get a spot for dinner, individuals may wait up to three hours for a seat. During lunchtime, it still remains busy. I arrived at 9:00 a.m. in the morning, when they opened, and there was still a large crowd waiting out front. Because Din Tai Fung does not take reservations, customers must be dedicated to waiting if they want to have a chance at eating here. 

Overall, there is no denying that Din Tai Fung is excellent considering its quality and customer service. I would recommend going there at least once to try it out, but if you are looking for authenticity, I recommend a cheaper alternative that you can go to regularly. Places like Tim Ho Wan offer a great assortment of dumplings and wait times are not anywhere near those of Din Tai Fung. Even after nine years of operation, the large crowd that is there every day shows why this restaurant is just too good to refuse.