*Note: Technically, this place isn’t in Seattle, but Bellevue is close enough to the area that it’s being included as part of Seattle Eats.

What’s the best way to kick off 4th of July celebrations?  Why, have some dumplings of course!  Being our first time in the States for the 4th of July, we weren’t really sure what kind of festivities to partake in.  Feeling a little beat and not being of the wild crazy party variety, we decided to stay local and kick back in Bellevue, where our hosts reside.

We’d first attempted to eat at Din Tai Fung the night we flew into Seattle, but it was far too busy and the wait would be at least 40 minutes.  Lucky for us, this time around – although still busy – the wait for a table was only about 10 minutes.  It seemed like it took 10 minutes to get to our table because this place is quite massive.  We passed by table after table full of diners all the way to the back of the restaurant.

Din Tai Fung specialises in steamed dumplings reminiscent of the delicious xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) I had the pleasure of trying at Shanghai River in Richmond a few years ago.  They’re most commonly filled with pork wrapped with a solid meat aspic inside the dumpling skin – the steaming process melts the aspic into soup.  Mark and I both loved our first xiaolongbao experience at Shanghai River so we were excited to see how Din Tai Fung would stack up.

We started off with an order of Pork Fried Rice.  It was seasoned very nicely and came with tender pieces of fried pork.  It was a pretty standard fried rice that was done well.

Mark can’t go to an Asian establishment and not get some type of soup or noodles, so he got the Shrimp Noodle Soup.  The broth was a bit on the bland side and tasted more of the bok choy, but it was a solid soup with a good amount of noodles.

The stars of the show, the Juicy Pork Dumplings.  These were pretty tasty.  I thought the pork filling was nicely seasoned and there was a good amount of soup in the dumpling, which you have to be careful of because it’s piping hot.

The Shrimp & Pork Shao Mai were also very tasty.  I actually liked these better than the pork dumplings, but I have a huge love of shrimp so it doesn’t take much to sway me.

We also got a couple of Pork Buns that were quite delicious.  The ratio of bun-to-filling was just right.

We originally wanted to get another order of the pork dumplings, but our server advised us that it would take a while.  Being their most popular item and only having a couple of steaming stations for the pork dumplings, there were others in the queue which would delay our order… which was understandable, but I figure, if they know the pork ones are the most popular, why not open up or create a few more stations?  I’m sure they had their reasons, so instead of waiting we opted for the Vegetable & Pork Dumplings.  Our server said that it’s not her favourite because the pork to vegetable ratio of the filling favours the vegetable, but I found it to be just fine.  They reminded me of the pork and chive dumplings that my mom frequently makes so I really enjoyed these.

We mustn’t forget to eat our veggies, so got the Sauteed Spinach with Garlic which added a nice freshness component to our meal.

For dessert, we ordered a couple of Sweet Taro Buns, which were just okay.  I found that the filling didn’t have much flavour so it all ended up tasting like a plain dough bun.

We also got the Shaved Ice with Assorted Toppings, which was similar to one of my favourite Korean desserts, patbingsu.  It was pretty loaded with a variety of things, some of which I couldn’t identify (like the mysterious yellow jelly on top that was apparently not mango jelly).  My only complaint was that it melted way too quickly so it ended up being more of a sweet milky dessert.  Still, the combination of toppings worked well together, even with their mysterious nature.

Overall, our dining experience was pretty good.  The service was a bit spotty at times, but it was understandable considering how packed the place was.  Although I still prefer Shanghai River’s xiaolongbao, Din Tai Fung offers some good, solid eats. Just be prepared to wait a while, especially if you go at peak dining hours.

Din Tai Fung
700 Bellevue Way NE Ste 280
Bellevue, WA 98004
Phone: (425) 698-1095
http://www.dintaifungusa.com

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