Din Tai Fung is synonymous with one thing- Xiao long bao (XLB). And it was this that a group of food bloggers tried to learn to make. Btw, guess which blogger's camera was this? :D
It wasn't easy with many steps (kneading! pinching! rolling! filling! folding! steaming!) that required practice and more practice. Most XLB chefs train for at least 1-2 years just to be able to a decent XLB.
Our chief tutor that day showed us the ropes and the result of a well-made XLB....as the
Instead of meat, we used a red bean paste as the filling because it is apparently easier to handle. Even with that, most of us struggled.
Here's the graveyard of failure. Our ugly, spoilt XLB skins that were marked for condemnation. Too fat! Too thin! Out of shape! Uneven! Sigh. The harsh scrutiny of life. Thankfully, the DTF chefs maintain their standards to ensure the uniformity of their XLB.
It is easy to tell which was made by a DTF chef and which (two!) were made by yours truly. I have to admit it was my second time attempting to make XLB. The first was also at another DTF media event and also featured the same chief tutor. Same teacher, same steps, same student, same results. Must be me. Moohahaha.
Hence, new-found respect for XLB chefs!
On to the makan portion:
I like the not-overly-thin and slight chewiness of the skin of the freshly steamed XLB. The hot meat juice within had a nice sesame oil flavour.
PS: Thankfully, they were not as cruel to feed us the ones we made! Otherwise, I think I would have been put off XLB for quite a long while.
Fragrant Pork with Crushed Garlic ($6.80) featured chilled tender slices of pork, wrapped round cucumber sticks, in a spicy and super garlic-y sauce!
Vegetarian Delight in Special Vinegar Dressing ($2.80) was a simple starter of strips of seaweed, Jew's ears (I think), tung hoon, pressed tofu and chilli and spring onions. The vinegar dressing made it a little sharp and appetite-perking....
...which was perfect as the Fried Rice with Shrimp & Egg ($10) arrived. Unfortunately, I didn't take to the artificially springy prawns. Most Chinese restaurants 'crystallize' their prawns by rinsing them for long periods in cold water and treating them in sodium bicarbonate/baking soda/corn/potato starch but I don't quite like the super crunchy result of this. More often then not, the prawn looses its flavour. The fried rice had a generous amount of eggs but I found the overall flavour to be rather weak.
I enjoyed the Stir-Fried Nai Bai with Garlic ($12). The crunchy, leafy greens were a delight and the (deep-fried I think) whole garlic cloves were sweet.
A Steamed Chilli Crab and Pork Bun ($6 for 4 pieces) is 40% larger than the usual XLB! What's inside? A chilli crab filling with a sweet-spicy sauce.
And on to desserts! Sago with Ice & Sweet Coconut Sauce ($3.50) was pretty good with the lup lup (Cantonese for granular?) mouth feel from the sago. The coconut and gula melaka (palm sugar) sauce was sweet, creamy and fragrant.
The Fragrant Peanut Dumplings ($6.80 for 6 pieces) looked quite cute- like a white furry ball. The glutinous rice flour skin was nice and chewy. Inside it was the classic peanut and sugar combi with sesame seeds. :)
And talk about cute. I couldn't help but take a shot of the Caucasian girl who was entertaining herself by pulling faces at the glass panel. Maybe that's what happens when mum and dad takes too long to order! Heh.
Anyway, this cow is happy to give away a Din Tai Fung $10 voucher to two persons! Just leave a comment with your email address and we'll be in touch.
The vouchers expire this Saturday (31st July) and I plan to mail them out tomorrow before noon. That still leaves plenty of time for you to plan a meal at any DTF outlet for either this Friday or Saturday.
Else, I'll donate it to my four stomachs and they'll thank you for the xiao long baos (such a tough job)... if no one wants the vouchers. :p
Update: Congrats to Lynette and Chantel for winning the vouchers!
Thanks to Veronica and Hsian Ming of Sixth Sense Communications for the invite, vouchers and for hosting this hungry moo.
Din Tai Fung
313 @ Somerset (various other outlets)
Tel: 6509 6696
Chew On This: The Steamed Chilli Crab and Pork Bun is only available till 31st August! Citibank card-members enjoy a 15% discount off this dish.