I saw it in Indonesia back in early 20, the first Halal DTF, but I did not try it. What’s Xiaolongbao 小笼包 without pork? Then I saw it again in KLIA departure hall, my colleague from the US could not resist as it was his first trip to Asia after 3 years and he was missing the soup dumplings.
It looked like any other Din Tai Feng 鼎泰丰 anywhere in the world – open kitchen with hardworking staff wrapping soup dumplings at amazing speed and precision. DIN by Din Tai Fung is the first non-pork restaurant by Din Tai Fung in Malaysia, following more than ten outlets in the Middle East and Indonesia.
But this being an Islamic country, this DTF does not serve pork. So their signature Xiaolongbao (Shanghainese soup dumplings) 小笼包 has exchanged the main ingredient from pork to chicken.
The switch of the type of meat was not too obvious with the 红油抄手 Szechuan spicy dumplings. The red hot spicy Szechuan chilli sauce pretty much overwhelmed the senses so you did not know if it was chicken or pork.
But with the signature 小笼包 Xiaolongbao, it was very obvious that the new product was not comparable to the pork version. Firstly, the chicken meat ball in the dumpling was dry. And then there’s the soup in the dumpling that was not as satisfying as the original.
And then there’s the other bestsellers like 素蒸饺 Vegetarian dumplings which did not matter if it’s chicken or pork. The vegan version of the steamed dumplings was the same anywhere in the world, just like the Big Mac.
Sautéed pea sprouts was not in the Taiwan menu, but the Malaysian menu did not have the appetisers and vegetables that we like. It was rather bland.
红烧牛肉面 Taiwanese braised beef noodles in red soup was more watery than the Taiwan version. The soup was not as robust and the braised beef tasted like they came from a central kitchen, yes but not from the Taiwan one because the beef was rather chewy.
招牌炒饭 DTF signature fried rice was about the only item that was exactly the same. But the portion was surprisingly small.
And instead of their signature pan fried pork chop, the replacement on the menu was the Taiwan night market style 炸鸡排 Chicken chop. It would need for flavours beside the distinct garlicky taste to the crust. And in the country where their KFC is consistently voted as the best in the world, this chicken chop could not make it.
So would I go to another DTF in Malaysia (or Indonesia)? Not if I could. Just as much as I would not go to McD when I am overseas unless I am totally sick of fine dining and local cuisine and seek to comfort food.
Din by Din Tai Feng KLIA
Main Terminal Building, Level 5, L5 08
Visited in Jun 2022