It seems counterintuitive that a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations and frequently has a long wait would be family-friendly, but the food at Din Tai Fung is worth a little extra planning. Located in Lincoln Square in Bellevue, Din Tai Fung is known worldwide for the xiao long bao – or steamed juicy pork soup dumplings. There are many locations throughout Asia of this Taiwan-based chain, but only two at the moment in the States.
While xiao long bao connoisseurs will split hairs to say that the Bellevue Din Tai Fung isn’t as refined as its counterparts in Asia, there’s no question that the soup dumplings are still the best you’ll find in the Seattle area. You get 10 xiao long bao per basket for about $10. You can watch a dozen specially trained xiao long bao makers through the window next to the entrance as they pinch exactly 18 pleats in each little dumpling. Just be careful when you eat the xiao long bao, because the juice that’s in the filling is steaming hot.
Kid favorites (aside from the dumplings) include the green beans with garlic, pork chop fried rice, and the dessert red bean steamed buns. The pork chop fried rice is of particular note for the tender and savory chop – you may have to order more than one dish. The cucumber salad is a refreshing side dish. If you like heat, the wontons with spicy sauce is worth ordering.
It’s likely there will be a wait when you go. Just put your name on the list. The Container Store is downstairs, so you can go browse. Some families “camp out” in the hall with activities for the kids. In a nod to families, Din Tai Fung does have small plastic cups with lids for the kids and provides plastic utensils and paper soup cups, and the staff is usually pretty gracious about helping you stow your stroller.
Din Tai Fung
700 Bellevue Way NE, Ste. 280
– Hsiao-Ching Chou