Din Tai Fung, Santa Clara

Reviewer: Foodnut.com

Din Tai Fung

2855 Stevens Creek Blvd #A253

Santa Clara, CA 95050

408-248-1688

Din Tai Fung Website

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Din Tai Fung is a popular Xiao Long Bao (It means small bamboo steamer bun in Chinese) – Shanghai Steamed Soup dumpling restaurant with locations in Bellevue, Seattle, Southern California, Taiwan, Japan, China, Indonesia, Macau, Singapore, and several other countries. Few Chinese dishes generate so much obsession. Think of it like a quest to find the best burger or pizza. We have been to this location several times.

They stopped taking reservations 3/1/2017. If you want to avoid the long wait, come during the weekday for lunch after 2pm.


Din Tai Fung Santa Clara Video

Compare the Dumpling making to the real deal in Taiwan:


Din Tai Fung Tapiei 101, Taiwan

 

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara Interior Decor

Of course we wanted to dine at this local Santa Clara location! Apparently hundreds of our closest friends had the same idea. We waited several hours to get in. They started taking reservations after their first week of operations.

The dumpling makers were flown in from different Din Tai Fung locations including Taiwan. They claim the dumplings should be identical to all other locations outside the US.

We never thought of ourselves as xiaolongbao fanatics, but after visiting many San Francisco area restaurants rumored to have good steamed dumplings plus Din Tai Fung Hong Kong, Shanghai, Arcadia, Glendale, Bellevue, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur.. Numerous top rated restaurants in Shanghai.. I guess we are guilty.

Are these authentic Xiao Long Bao?

In late 2014 we made a pilgramage to a branch of Fu Chun in Shanghai, China – Dianping listing all branches of this authentic old school xiaolongbao restaurant. Modern day Xiao Long Bao should really be called Nanjing tangbao with the thinner skin and lots of soup.  The real dumpling deal at Fu Chun was meatier with a leaner filling, thicker skinned, and possessed not much soup. This restaurant has several locations in Shanghai, be sure to visit one when you are in Shanghai. Any real XLB enthusiast needs to understand what authentic XLB is.

Two useful pages on XLB: Timeout  and CNNGo

Din Tai Fung Taipei 101 reminded us how xiaolongbao or Shanghai Steamed Dumplings should taste and look. They are constantly cranked out with robot like precision. The Southern California branches achieve roughly 85% of the quality of this branch. It amazes us that virtually no other Chinese restaurant in the San Francisco area comes close. A super sized dumpling or one in a foil basket is a dead giveaway for compromise. Don’t even bother to order these at a Cantonese Chinese Restaurant!

You can see that each dumpling is compact, uniform, 18-fold crown, weighed down with soup when you pick them up. The meat inside is not huge yet the soup is full on a slightly meaty flavor.

On our latest trip to Asia, we had a chance to compare these Din Tai Fung Taipei super dumplings to the real deal in Shanghai. In the past, we found Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai running ahead. This time, we noted that Jia Jia’s consistency is less than Din Tai Fung. You had dumplings slightly differing in size and shape. Quality wise, we would have to give the nod to Din Tai Fung Taipei over Jia Jia Shanghai, China. Jia Jia is also notorious for running out of pork dumplings around noon, then forcing you to order the more expensive crab ones.

Insider Tip – Avoid the long waits, Reserve ahead

Cuisine – Chinese Shanghainese
Location – Westfield Valley Fair Mall, San Jose – Santa Clara
Opened – May 2016

Did you know part of the Valley Fair mall is in another city (Near Macy’s Men Store), Santa Clara? Some stores like Gap have half the store in another City! The minimum wage was different for a while.

Service – Din Tai Fung was friendly and efficient. The staff was overwhelmed with the lines but remained pleasant and more than attentive. Impressive. Most Americans have never experience this level of service at a Chinese restaurant.

Verdict – Din Tai Fung Santa Clara hits the mark. Best soup dumplings in the San Francisco area.

Din Tai Fung Signature Dishes – Xiao Long Bao or Shanghai Steamed pork dumplings, other dumplings

Din Tai Fung’s Menu is pretty extensive with lots of appetizers, dumplings, noodles, greens, buns, drinks, and dessert. Lots of pictures make it easy to order. They include a lot of vegetarian and gluten-free options. We are here for the dumplings, so we try to waste as little time as possible on the other items. It appears they use this menu Worldwide.

Foodie Note: They have mini pork dumplings on the weekend mornings, so you may want to TIME your visit.

Website Din Tai Fung Menu clearly marks Vegetarian and Gluten Free options. Prices were cheaper than Din Tai Fung Bellevue, Washington or Southern California.

Din Tai Fung Food Picks:

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara Pork Dumplings

Juicy pork dumplings or pork Xiao Long Bao (6 pieces for $8) contain a resonable quantity of warm and flavorful soup with subdued meat flavor. A thin wrapper (but not overly fragile), even though they were fairly small and delicate, yet baggy dumplings. Thicker cap. The initial bite and sucking of the soup resulted in an burst of flavor. We would rate these very good, better than many restaurants in the United States.

They use bamboo steamers, unlike the Southern California locations. These need some time to get seasoned to achieve their optimal effect.

The dumplings in their flagship Taipei Taiwan location, were not sticky, had more soup, and hit you with more robust flavor. They use Taiwanese black pig in Taiwan. If you are a XLB newbie, you would probably not know the difference.

Little known facts:

  • They can cook these bad boys, then let them cool off, and let you take them to go.
  • You can call 24 hours ahead and have them freeze some for you.  You need to bring a cooler to bring them home.  They are really concerned about food quality and safety.

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara Truffle pork dumplings

Truffle and Pork XiaoLongBao ($25 for five pieces) are their flagship dumpling. Expensive at $5 a bite! Only $3 a bite in Taiwan. Made with legit Italian truffles. You can smell the rich truffle essence before you even bite into them. The waitress told us not to use any sauce or ginger. Very good, but no foodgasm like we had in Taipei’s Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara Fish Dumplings

Fish Dumplings (6 pcs for $8.75) are larger dumplings filled with chopped up fish and some soup. A nice change from all the Xiao Long Bao.

Pork Shanghai Rice Cake ($10.75) is a good sized hearty dish.  Nice tender rice cakes. Little Shanghai in San Mateo has a great one.

Eight Treasure Rice ($6) is a small individual portion.  Nicely done but not outstanding.

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara Slush with boba

Peach Slush with Boba ($5.50) is a bit expensive, but the tall glass hit the spot.

Matcha Smoothie with Boba ($5.50) is a nice drink to get. Strong flavor.

OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Hot and Sour Soup ($6) is more filler for the dumplings.

Kimchi & Pork Dumplings ($9.25) are ok, but why are you wasting stomach space for them?

Sweet & Sour Short Ribs ($8) was a new dish in 2017.  Surprising that they came to us cold. Flavor is ok.

Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
None

Din Tai Fung Overall Rating: (Excellent 3)

Come Back?

Food Rating: (Very Good)
Service Rating: (Excellent)
Atmosphere Rating: (Excellent)
Value Rating: (Excellent)

Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

Alcohol:Beer, Wine
Attire:Casual
Parking:Free Lot
Reservations:Yes

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