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Din Tai Fung Dumpling House (Arcadia CA)
||1108 S. Baldwin Avenue,|
Arcadia, CA 91007
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(1) page: 36 and 37
This dumling House is an outpost of its namesake in Taipei. You may recall, in Volume 13(4) on page 13 of this magazine, we loved the original in Taipei. There, all the foods served were fine, the week-end waits humongous and less acceptable. Waiting here can mimic Taipei, but many of the California kitchen offerings do not.
We are disappointed even with the show of making dumplings before being seated. After we order ours, not all of them impress even though this eatery, called Best of Los Angeles 2006, is a US Top 100 Chinese Restaurant in 2005. On our 2006 visit, we see slippage. We expect crowds and noise, and are greeted with both. We do not expect to find the Vegetable and Pork Dumplings virtually free of meat, and others similarly missing their protein.
The Juicy Pork/Crab Dumplings, however, do not disappoint. They are close to top of the line even with their limited amount of juiciness. The Rice & Pork Shaomai are an absolute disappointment. Their almost no meat matches their almost no taste.
With tables too close, people virtually touching their neighbors, we have a tough time getting in and out of ours. This is a true hassle. The noise level is high and conversation here is tough. Back to the food, several other dumplings are too chewy. What is great is that the dumpling menu can be had in Chinese, English, or in Japanese. Most customers on our visit are Japanese and yuppie. This dumpling house offers all a large number of vegetarian items separated from the others in a column of their own. We are told afterwards, by a Chinese food freak, that they and others now wander elsewhere because this outpost is too commercial, into quantity, and is not quality of the past.
Some customers who experience poor service may be put off by their tipping guide. It suggests 15/20/25 (percent). Other may bristle and wander elsewhere because the dim sum they request by checking off items on the menu gets dropped off at the table, the server rushing off elsewhere. This makes service mediocre. None of the young servers seem available when something is needed or wanted. One couple at a nearby table do seek attention when their chopstick hits the floor. No one comes by to provide another even though teir hands wave for attention.
We pay and leave after eating but a few items and go on to another recommended dining emporium. Unfortunately, we do not get to try that place, the Dumpling 10053, because it is closed one day a week, the one day we set aside to try it. Another recommended eatery, Green City Chinese Restaurant on the second story of the San Gabriel Square, is loaded with workers, not diners. The owner is supervising painters, carpenters, and others, his kitchen is also closed. He says he will re-open soon and continue to specialize in Eastern foods from Ningpo and Jiangzhe. We do eat in several other places, and as the expression goes, stay tuned. More on Los Angeles environ eateries in the next issue of this magazine.