Worth the wait? Worth the Hype? Find out what Alex has to say.
by Alexander Quebec
Sometimes, when a new place opens up, there’s so much hype that everyone gets caught up in the excitement, even people who may normally not be excited about these kinds of things. This happened recently, with the opening of Northern California’s first Din Tai Fung at Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose. Normally, I’m the kind of guy who waits until the hype dies down before I check anything out, but as a writer for this site, I’m kinda sorta responsible for reporting on these things as they happen.
I got a text from a friend while I was at a Food truck rally checking out some of the trucks there. Now normally, I don’t double fist when it comes to dinner, but this was no ordinary message. She had gotten a spot reserved for us at the world famous Din Tai Fung in Valley Fair, which has a wait of over 5 hours or more due to it’s newness (it had just opened up a few days before). Seizing the opportunity, I said “hell yes I’m going” got my food from another food truck and made my way to Valley Fair Mall in San Jose.
To give you some history, Din Tai Fung is a popular chain of Dim Sum and other specialty items that originated in Taiwan in 1958 by Yang Bingyi and his wife Lai Penemi. Originally selling cooking oil, the restaurant aspect started in 1980 as the sales of cooking oil drastically decreased. The Xiao Long Bao they sold soon became popular and soon, the cooking oil business was phased out in favor of the restaurant. Today, the chain has locations in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia and the USA. The restaurant at Valley Fair mall is is their first location here in Northern California and fourth overall in California.
I have to give you guys some disclosure, I have never tried actual dim sum aside from the cheap stuff you get at Ranch 99, etc. So to be fair, this is my first time trying Dim Sum in a restaurant setting.
Speaking of setting, the place was actually quite calm (relatively speaking), given the hectic nature of dinnertime at a restaurant, I admired the decor and the look, it seemed at home with its location within the mall.
I tried their famous Xiao Long Bao (or otherwise known as XLB). While I enjoyed them overall, I had to get used to the idea of an explosion of broth in my mouth. There was a decent filling to wrapper ratio which I thought was pretty good. Here’s some more pics of other items we enjoyed. Sadly, in our hasty excitement (and the fact that most of the group was starving) I was unable to get the names of the items, but if anyone can tell me what they are called, I make an update. I believe the photo below is crab shu mai. THIS is what I was actually craving for, these were amazing. I loved the shu mai the most as it was filled with filling and didn’t have an overly fishy taste to it (everything is made fresh of course).
There were also these guys too, good stuff
Now, you might be wondering, was this worth the +4 hour wait? Fans of the chain or of dim sum in general believe so, especially the other diners I spoke to. As for everyone else, especially those who are new to dim sum, you could probably afford to wait a few months until the hype dies down, but if the opportunity comes up to dine with a few friends, by all means, go for it.
Din Tai Fung is open from 11AM to 3PM for lunch and 5AM to 930PM for dinner, Monday through Friday. 10AM to 3PM then 5PM to 9:30PM Saturday, and Sunday from 10AM to 3PM for lunch and 5PM to 9PM for dinner. They are located at the Westfield Valley Fair mall, right next to J. Crew.