Thursday, November 27, 2008

Din Tai Fung Trumped on Home Turf?

I've long maintained, sometimes vociferoously, that there were cheaper and better alternatives in Shanghai to vaunted Taiwan upstart Din Tai Fung's xiao long bao, even though the iconic Nanxiang has fallen from grace. Xiao long bao is, after all, a populist food, and places like Jia Jia Tang Bao and De Long Guan are just doing what comes naturally when they provide superior dumplings in a no-frills environment at a fraction of Din Tai Fung's price.

It comes as no surprise to me, therefore, that Din Tai Fung might be trumped on its own home turf (Taipei) in the xiao long bao department, and this article in The Taipei Times seems to comfirm that suspicion:

Mention xiaolongbao (小龍包), or steamed dumplings, and the name Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is bound to enter the conversation. But any dumpling aficionado is just as likely to tout a cheaper and even better alternative.

One such place is Mingyue Tangbao (明月湯包, Mingyue Steamed Dumplings), which enjoys a loyal following. During busy times it’s not uncommon to find a line of people waiting outside this modest shop near the Tonghua Street (通化街) night market.... .

Both connoisseurs and newcomers should try the house specialty, mingyue tangbao (明月湯包, NT$120 per basket of eight), the shop’s name for its xiaolongbao. The marks of a good dumpling were all there: the outer flour wrap was delicate and thin but didn’t break when picked up with chopsticks; each dumpling had a good proportion of soup, meat and dough; and the minced pork was lean and tasted fresh.
Mingyue has also caught the attention of bloggers, most notably Monya, whose blog 懶洋洋胡言亂語 (roughly "Indolent Babblings") is in Chinese but whose mouthwatering pictures of the small eats offered by Mingyue are worth 10,000 words.

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