Food & Wine
Is the Din Tai Fung San Jose Worth the Wait?
Xiaolongbao, also known as soup dumplings, are one of my favorite foods, and Din Tai Fung is famous for theirs. A well known chain, declared by the NY Times in 1993 to be one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in the world, Din Tai Fung started in Taipei and has expanded to Asia and a handful of locations in the US.
Those tasty little buns are like the inverse of chicken dumpling soup — instead of dumplings in the soup, the soup is sealed in the dumpling. 🙂 When I find myself in the same city as a Din Tai Fung I can’t resist a stop.
When it came to one of their newest openings in San Jose, I was forced to resist. The Din Tai Fung San Jose location (technically Santa Clara) in the Westfield Valley Fair mall was the only store to require reservations, and they were typically booked more than 2 weeks out, too far for my last minute trips.
That changed as of March 1, so after a little bit of research I showed up at 10:07 on a Sunday morning, minutes after they opened. There was already a line, but as a party of two we were seated immediately.
And the food was excellent — well up to the usual Din Tai Fung standards.
Is it better than everywhere else? Better than Yank Sing? I don’t know if they’re the best, but Din Tai Fung’s options are pretty darn good and worth a trip if you don’t have to wait more than an hour. Few restaurants are worth a 2-5 hour wait, which is probably why they have some of the harshest reviews on Yelp of any Din Tai Fung location.
Tip: Arrive first thing when they open — 10AM on the weekends — or go late in the evening to avoid long waits,
The two things I wasn’t crazy about?
- The price. I’m spoiled by the Southeast Asia prices and these California dumplings aren’t cheap with most dishes starting at $10. Two hungry people can easily go through 5+ entrees.
- No iconic dumpling statue! First location I’ve visited without one.
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