Din Tai Fung Hong Kong
Hong Kong has 61 Michelin star restaurants in the 2013 Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide. First released in 2009, about one-fifth of the total listings are of so-called simple-shop restaurants, which serve basic local fare like noodles and congee. By day, I made it my mission to seek out a few of the affordable one star Michelin eateries while exploring the city. Attaining the Michelin one star rating for these traditional noodle and dim sum restaurants can catapult them to instant fame as it did for Ho Hung Kee in 2010 and dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan the year after. Both retained their stars in 2012 and 2013.
After dining at Ho Hung Kee, the next obvious choice was Tim Ho Wan. But, even though I wanted to try their dim sum and see what everyone was raving about, I wasn’t willing to stand in line for 2 hours at their original tiny shop in Mong Kok (mixed reviews of their newer second location and the recently opened store in the MTR Hong Kong Station did not appeal to me).
Instead I decided to walk to Din Tai Fung in the Silvercord shopping mall (Tsim Sha Tsui) – it was within walking distance of our hotel, so battling crowds and navigating subways wasn’t required – a Win Win, especially since it was raining. It’s bad enough walking among hoards of people, but with umbrellas, it becomes a tedious, potentially dangerous obstacle course.
Din Tai Fung originated in Taiwan where it was founded in 1958 by Bingyi Yang who moved to Taiwan in 1948 from Shanxi, China. Din Tai Fung is known for their xiaolongbao (small steamed buns). I didn’t realize this at the time, but Din Tai Fung is a franchise (a very expensive one) and a burgeoning worldwide brand with branches in Singapore, Thailand, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and USA.
In 2009, Din Tai Fung’s Hong Kong branch at Tsim Sha Tsui, Silvercord Branch, was awarded one Michelin star by the Hong Kong and Macau 2010 edition of the Michelin Guide. They received the honor again in the 2010 along with the restaurant’s second branch in Hong Kong at Causeway Bay, Yee Wo Branch. Din Tai Fung, Silvercord Branch, which is where I dined, was again awarded one Michelin star in the 2013 edition of the Michelin Guide and, from what I experienced during my lunch visit, I think it’s well deserved…and definitely affordable.
Low intimidation factor: there are cards on each table offering directions on how to correctly eat XiaoLongBao
I arrived just before noon and as a party of one, was seated immediately even though a queue had already formed. The restaurant was filled with large parties of Chinese families, business people lunching, couples, and obvious tourists besides myself. Keep in mind, that many casual Asian restaurants will seat you at a share table or ask you if you are OK with sharing a table with others. Just say, “Yes”.
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