Din Tai Fung Launches its First Melbourne Restaurant
Warning: if you like dumplings (who doesn’t?) this article may render you extremely jealous. Check out our Best Cheap Eats in Melbourne.
Din Tai Fung, arguably the world’s most famous dumpling specialists, have officially opened the doors to their biggest Australian restaurant yet, and the first outside of NSW at the world-class shopping mecca, Emporium Melbourne.
Located on Level Four, Emporium Melbourne (with internal as well as direct external lift access on Caledonian Lane), the 235-seat restaurant boasts three private dining rooms, an Australian-first for the group.
Earning cult status since introducing Australia to its delicious Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) in 2008 at its flagship World Square Sydney restaurant, the latest venue will, of course, feature Din Tai Fung’s signature glass-enclosed dumpling kitchen where customers can watch the masters at work.
Dendy Harjanto, Australasian Director of Din Tai Fung said: “We are humbled by how Australians have embraced Din Tai Fung, and we feel Emporium Melbourne is the ideal location for our biggest restaurant yet.”
It’s not just about the dumplings at Din Tai Fung with other favourites including Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wonton Noodle, Egg Fried Rice with Crumbed Chicken Fillet, Triple Mango Crushed Ice and the signature Lychee Mint Freeze. A bespoke wine list drawing from cool-climate Victorian wine regions, with eight by the glass, also features food and wine matches.
From the first Din Tai Fung opening in 1974 in a modest Taipei stall, the Emporium, Melbourne, is now home to the most recent restaurant in this thriving business.
For two talented restaurateurs heading up Din Tai Fung for Australasia, Dendy Harjanto and his wife, Shin, are two of the most lovely, down to earth people you’ll ever meet. With an endearing mix of humility and pride in his craft, Dendy explained to our table of food enthusiasts how the dumplings are lovingly made.
The dumplings are all made fresh for the restaurant’s customers and weighed twice throughout the creation process: between 4.8 and 5.2 grams without filling, and between 20.8 and 21.2 grams with filling. Each dumpling has at least 18 delicate folds (the chefs count).
Dendy’s favourite drink, fresh and exciting Lychee Mint Freeze, is so good that he just had to share it with Melbourne, and we’re glad he did.
This Cucumber in Vinaigrette Dressing throws together two polar opposites, spice and cucumber, with fantastic results. It is the definition of balance and the simultaneous sensation of heating and cooling is quite remarkable.
Green Beans mixed with Minced Pork is such an unassuming dish that really surprises. Din Tai Fung really knows how to keep it fresh while adding a twist to old dishes.
The Mango Shrimp Roll: seafood, fruit and crunch all in the one mouthful. This unique dish was one of our favourites for the night.
The Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wonton is a melt-in-your-mouth kind of dish, with its silky texture sliding down so easy and a few chillies to spice up the soy sauce that the wontons are resting in.
The next dish to grace the table was Crispy Fried Chicken with Chilli. After several soft textures, this gorgeous crunch is really welcomed. You’re the master of your own spice level thanks to the chillies sitting among the chicken. How brave are you?
The Cha Jiang Noodle with Minced Pork combines soft noodles and silky tofu with crunchy beans to create a textural variety, while the pork really brings the flavour for the dish.
What we’ve all been waiting for: the dumplings! While Shin, an attentive hostess, took care of the table, Dendy continued the masterclass, showing us how to eat the dumpling with finesse—a much needed lesson for those of us (me) who struggled to even pick the dumpling up with chopsticks!
1. Pick up dumpling (without dropping) and place in dumpling spoon
2. Puncture dumpling to release hot soup
3. Add sliver of ginger soaked in soy sauce and vinegar, then eat!
The Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai is by far the cutest dish on the menu with the petite pink shrimp resting on the top of the dumpling like a crown. We needed no further inviting.
Vegetarian Jiao Zi is a dumpling with beautiful texture and shape—perfect for vegetarians and makes you feel healthy. Bonus!
The Mango Tango is fresh and smooth, and who doesn’t love a straw that’s almost as thick as the glass?
The Egg Fried Rice with Fried Pork Chop isn’t stingy with its core ingredient, which is a big tick for The World Loves Melbourne. The soft egg throughout the rice contrasts well with the crispy fried pork (perfect after three different types of dumpling).
For dessert, Shin had organised for the North and South Pole to be brought to our table! This picture doesn’t quite do their size justice, and we had fun game of it chipping away at the Triple Strawberry and Triple Mango Crushed Ice. The person who topples the mountain onto the table loses, so wield your spoon with skill but beware of a Princess Diaries brain freeze moment! We had the large size, but smaller portions are available.
The Mango Pudding is good on its own, but when you add a capful of condensed milk (as per Din Tai Fung tradition) it takes it to the next level. Check it out if you’re wanting something fruity (without the brain freeze).
We finished this stunning meal on a high note with Taro Gelato & Golden Taro Bread. The unique texture of the taro, a popular root vegetable, adds a complicated layer to a simple looking dish.
Din Tai Fung doesn’t take bookings because they want customers who make the effort to come all the way to their restaurant to be seated as soon as possible, so hurry down to level 4 of the Emporium, because tables are going fast!
All of Din Tai Fung’s venues have their own unique design identity, and Emporium Melbourne is no different.
Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne is located on Level 4, 287 Lonsdale Street (or lift access via corner of Little Bourke St and Caledonian Lane) and open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
For information on the stores please visit: www.dintaifung.com.au