Wednesday, October 15, 2008

TW Tour: XLB Taste Comparison, Taipei

In the shadow of Taipei 101 - the current tallest, completed and occupied building in the world with the fastest elevator in the world, lies perhaps another one of TW's greatest feats - the soup dumpling (XLB).

Din Tai Fung has branches all over the world including the Greater LA area (I hear it's meh there) and in Shanghai (the home turf of XLBs and I hear they are beating out Nan Xiang at their own game).
The mass of workers in their kitchen which looks more oddly like some sort of dumpling surgery center.
Stacks and stacks of XLBs
We didn't have to wait long for our table as we got there at 10AM. They even provided us a carriage for our purses.
The ginger slices in vinegar awaited our dumplings.
Cold apps of cucmber and tofu strips.
The best damn chicken soup in the world despite the scary looking chicken part. This bowl said it all - US farming methods, even those at places like Fulton Valley Chicken, have killed all that is good about chicken. One would never say, "Tastes like chicken" in TW about bland, mystery meat. I think the next Chinese-Jewish connection that could be a cottage industry is Bubbe's Chicken Soup from Ah Ma's Chicken Farm.
At last our XLBs came. We order one with crab and one plain pork. Both were amazing but we favoured the plain pork.
Closeup of the plain crab one.
So what do we do after having the top notch of XLBs, go have more! Our cabbie told us that a former cook at Din Tai Fung had opened his own place around the corner from Din Tai Fung. We needed to have a head-to-head comparison. And really, there was no comparision. These were messy in shape and not a whole lot of soup or flavour. In fact, they reminded me of the ones at Shanghai Dumpling on Balboa.
BTW, our Din Tai Fung meal was NT1221 ($40) - not cheap by TW standards but totally worth it by any measure.

No. 194 (corner of Yunkang Street), Xinyi Road Sec. 2, Taipei
Tel:(02)23218928 Fax:(02)23215958

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