April 30, 2011

Dumplings are a culinary mainstay in Taiwan and Asia. They belong to a basic group of food that also includes wontons, ravioli, and pierogi. A dumpling is simply a thin, elastic piece of dough that envelopes a savory or sweet filling and then the dumpling can be boiled, fried, or sauteed. It is a simple process but that does not mean it is easily perfected. These dumplings burst in one’s mouth and when done right they leave a void that very little else can fill. I have experienced two dumpling restaurants thus far: Din Tai Fung and a tiny, two floor dumpling restaurant in the heart of Taipei.

First is Din Tai Fun. Let me start off by saying that this was a great restaurant! Professor Peng considers this his “comfort food” whenever he visits Taiwan. It is a chain restaurant that started in Taipei and now has gone global. It has two branches in the United States; One is is Los Angeles and the other is in Seattle. It is known best for its steamed dumplings. The dumplings were little, fragile bitefulls of pork and sauce. We dipped them in a mixture of 1 part vinegar, 3 parts soy, and shredded ginger.

Making the Dumplings

Our Famous Taipei Din Tai Fung Dumplings!

The poor quality of the picture belies the tastiness of the dumplings

The second dumpling restaurant we visited I do not have a name for. I saw the name of it but I can’t for the life of me pronounce it. Can you?

Some of the best restaurants are off the main road

It seemed to be a mom and pop place. The kind of place you take a girl to on a first date in order to test the waters and see if she’s an adventurer like yourself. Everyone goes through a litany process when dating. My requirements are just a little different. Anyways…dumplings. At the restaurant, we met up with other students who took courses at UM Flint in the past or will be taking classes in the future. UM Flint has a sister university in Taipei that we will be visiting on Monday and the students we met tonight attended that sister college at one point or another.

The students who sat at our table! Left to right: Sandra, Jackie, DeeDee, and Pearl

At the restaurant we took our seats on the second floor. The food came up a dumbwaiter and was served onto our Lazy Susan. Why America hasn’t taken to these little wonders is beyond me. You’d never hear “Could you pass the beans, please?” again. Among the food was several types of dumplings which I thought were better than Din Tai Fung’s. Half of the dumplings were steamed and the other half were fried. The bread was wonderful (it resembled Indian Naan but with lots of green onions), the soup was good (hot and sour), and the iced tea was some of the best I ever had (it was a green tea base with Jasmine tea mixed in. It was not too sweet and not too bitter). Overall, it was great to talk to the Taiwanese college students and share some food with them.

The spread

No words can describe these dumplings


2 Responses to “Dumplings”

  1. Jan Schwerin Says:

    Sean, you are making me hungry. Those dumplings sound so good. Are you going to make them when you get home? Make sure you invite us over. Love you.

  2. auntiem Says:

    The food you posted reminds me of the great Chinese dinner I had with the gang in St. Louis this weekend. I tagged you in a picture I took of the food that (to me) seemed very authentic. Glad you are having such a nice experience. Uncle Larry and I send our love to you and continue to enjoy! Other cultures are so interesting, especially the Asian cultures. They have GREAT patience—which is why Vietnam ended up the way it did. We are so inpatient and have so much to learn from Asians.
    Ingrid says you are going to stop in Chicago to see the on way to Denver!

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