Any restaurant that gives you a special silky sack for your coat and a weird bassinet for your handbag is a restaurant worth eating dumplings in. And it looks like most of the area’s uni lecturers, ABC workers and cashed-up students agree. The new Din Tai Fung at Central Park is cramming them in. In terms of menu structure, this branch of DTF is like any other: you get a big menu and a little pencil and you mark off the dishes you want, along with the quantity you want them in.
If you want to be smart about it, order the wonton soup. It sees a light bright chicken broth filled out with silken noodles, beautifully thin pork and prawn wontons and a scattering of green onion. The xiao long bao – wobbling little soup-and-pork-mince-filled dumplings – are as good as ever, too.
Then there are the brightly coloured ‘dumpling gems’. Each flavour is slightly more disturbing than the last. There’s spaghetti Bolognaise, with a bit of a school canteen savoury mince vibe, while the garlic pork is a whole whoosh of stinking rose. The ‘seafood’ dumpling tastes as nondescript as the name suggests.
Aiming on ordering way too much? Go ahead and mark up an extra side of almost slippery cold-cut chicken doused in soy and rice wine and a serve of tender stir-fried water spinach, topped with both fresh-and-fried garlic chips. Firm and cooling tofu is covered in a cloud of pork floss, wearing a decorative garland of creamy preserved egg pieces. We go in for a mango pudding as well, but we mainly just prod around it.
If you boil it all down to the essentials, you’re here for the dumplings, and maybe the noodle soup. The rest is just set dressing. Happily, it’s gloriously edible set dressing.