San Francisco

Dumpling Devotees Say Din Tai Fung ‘Worth the Wait'

When Taiwanese dumpling chain Din Tai Fung flung open the doors to its first Bay Area location, people waited an average of two to three hours.

Lines snaked around Valley Fair Mall on Tuesday, as dumpling madness gripped Santa Clara. Hundreds of people came from around the Bay Area.

“I drove from San Francisco. I’m half Taiwanese, so I just love xiao long bao. I think they’re delicious and was hoping to get some of my hometown, but hopefully another time,” said Veronica Sartori, who was turned away for lunch.

“It’s been pretty hectic, but controlled madness,” Din Tai Fung co-owner Albert Yang said.

Yang’s grandfather converted a cooking oil business in Taipei, Taiwan into a restaurant. The menu contains a long list of dumplings, noodles and vegetables. However, Din Tai Fung is well known for its handmade xiao long bao or soup dumplings.

“It started as four tables and just grew from there. Now the original one is five stories and over 200 seats,” Yang said.

Now, there are more than 120 restaurants in Asia, Australia, California and Washington State. Its Hong Kong location even boasts one Michelin star.

It’s Milbert Carrera’s first time to any Din Tai Fung. He and his family waited three hours because his friends in Southern California recommended it.

“They were like, ‘Oh man, that’s like the best dim sum place ever.’ So I was like, okay I’ll come,” said Carrera, of Santa Clara.

Many other people we talked to took a half or full day off of work for the opening.

“After you eat it, you feel almost euphoric. The food is just so clean and wonderful tasting, like nowhere else,” said Julia Kumjian, who drove from San Francisco. “Nobody makes it like Din Tai Fung. I’ve been waiting so long for it to open.”

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