Courtesy of Din Tai Fung USA
Crowds flocked last December to check out Din Tai Fung’s new location at Washington Square Mall. Though the chain restaurant is popular across the Pacific (operating from Taiwan to California), the recently opened location is their first in Oregon.
The restaurant itself is conveniently located at the end of the mall, not in the middle, next to the now-closed Sears entrance. Although you can’t go through Sears anymore to reach it, there are still two entrances on both sides of the building that will lead you straight to the restaurant.
Initially you could place reservations; however, since their grand opening in December, the eatery dropped the reservation system and now operates exclusively on a first-come-first-serve basis. This can be pretty inconvenient if you’re looking to get in, eat, and get out, as there is no way to place a hold for the time you want unless you arrive really early. Fortunately, the waits are significantly shorter than they were when the restaurant first opened. You’ll typically see yourself waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before checking in and being seated.
But the experience itself is definitely worth the wait. A large window allows you to watch the chefs prepare the dumplings with speed and efficiency while you wait. Once you get inside, you’ll find yourself in a surprisingly spacious environment for a mall restaurant. The tables are spread apart far enough that the busy atmosphere isn’t too loud, you don’t feel cramped while you’re eating and you can have a conversation with friends in the open while still having a good sense of privacy. Dumpling steamer baskets adorn the ceiling, adding a nice finishing touch to the building.
Din Tai Fung specializes in their authentic Taiwanese food, most notably their signature xiaolongbao, traditional steamed pork dumplings. Their menu is mostly pork-, rice-, and noodle-based, with dozens of soups, noodles, rice dishes, traditional desserts, and almost twenty varieties of dumplings. The restaurant also serves several flavors of bubble tea, green and black tea, and slush smoothies.
The pork xiaolongbao, their specialty item, is undoubtedly a great appetizer to get every time you go there. The steamed dumplings are brought to you arranged in a ring inside the steamer basket, with a little bowl and spoon allowing you to catch all the juices before popping them into your mouth.
And the entrées themselves are excellent. Whether you order the noodles with spicy sauce or the pork chop fried rice, you’re bound to enjoy a superb meal. Din Tai Fung’s authentic cuisine is the best you’ll find anywhere in the Portland area.
To finish up your meal, the chocolate mochi xiaolongbao is a superb treat. The mochi dumplings, as the name suggests, are filled with a rich mixture of cocoa and rice mochi. The bun holds the warm melted chocolate inside very well and keeps it from spilling out when you take a bite. These dumplings are the perfect dessert to share with your table or eat them all on your own.
Overall, Din Tai Fung offers some amazing quality food for the price. The Portland location has been getting high ratings not just from us, but from online reviews all around Oregon as well, so be sure to stop by next time you’re at the mall and see for yourself what the hype is all about.