Din Tai Fung Covent Garden

Dim Sum, Taiwanese·
££££
·
Bronze Award
·

SquareMeal Review of Din Tai Fung Covent Garden

Bronze Award

Din Tai Fung was the most-searched restaurant on SquareMeal in 2018 – not bad for somewhere that didn’t open until December. The Taiwanese dumpling specialist is famous for making what many say are the world’s best xiao long bao, for its Michelin-approved Hong Kong outpost and for having 150 outlets spanning Asia, Australia, North America – and now London, where it has become famous primarily for the size of the queues. It’s worth noting, though, that if you arrive off peak (4pm on a Monday in our case) you'll be able to walk straight in, with only Asian students and curious tourists for company.  

We enountered a pleasantly dated experience not unlike the upmarket Chinese restaurants of old, with a neutral wood decor and echoey acoustics spread over two floors where the only natural illumination comes from a skylight. Suited and waistcoated staff deliver notably cheerful service, though the dumplings themselves are brought to the table by chefs wearing white coats and hygiene masks and who can be seen crafting dumplings in the glass-walled kitchen (each dumpling reputedly takes 40 minutes to make).

The classic pork xiao long bao are a marvel of engineering, their contents held in place with a pliable dough case, pleated 18 times, that trembles like an unexploded water bomb and doesn't burst at the first jab of a chopstick. The contents are less mesmerising: a pleasant pork stock designed to mingle with the vinegar and ginger the dumplings should be eaten with.

Prawn and pork shumai, opened out at one end like a flower unfurling around a pink filling, were equally well constructed but just as underwhelming on the flavour front; the only dumpling we ate that lived up to its savoury-sounding billing was steamed chilli crab and pork buns. Our favourite dish was a non-dumpling one involving rolled-up slivers of cold pork which acted as a conduit for a pungent filling of crushed garlic. The tough meat in a braised beef noodle soup, however, impressed far less.

We enjoyed our meal here, but to be blunt, we couldn't see what the big deal about Din Tai Fung is. The preparation of the dumplings is technically accomplished, but the results taste no better than those served at London's other dim-sum specialists and, given the spartan surrounds (cheap-feeling glassware, tea served in bags rather than loose leaves), we were surprised by the size of the bill; figure on around £50 a head without booze. If you hate queues but love Chinese food, we'd suggest you wait for the second London branch of Din Tai Fung to open at Centre Point, by which point you hopefully won't have to take the afternoon off work to eat here.    

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Dim Sum, Taiwanese
Ambience
Cool, Lively, Traditional, Unique, Widely spaced tables
Food Occasions
All day dining, Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Vegetarian options
People
Child friendly, Dates, Group dining [8+]

About Din Tai Fung Covent Garden

Few restaurants have come to London enjoying the levels of pre-opening hype that Din Tai Fung has, with media predicting five-hour long queues on opening day (although whether or not this actually happened is disputed). Taiwanese restaurant royalty, Din Tai Fung was initially founded by Bing-Yi Yang, who moved to Taiwan from China at a young age seeking a better life for himself.

Yang opened a humble shop selling cooking oil and xiao long bao: steamed dumplings that conceal a pork and hot soup filling. The xiao long bao became so popular that Yang decided to open a fully-fledged restaurant solely serving the dish. Today, Din Tai Fung operates more than 170 locations around the world across 13 countries, its menu has expanded to a pages-long affair of Taiwanese dishes, and its Hong Kong branch boasts a much sought-after Michelin star.

Din Tai Fung Covent Garden is the brand’s first London location, and can be found on Henrietta Street, which also houses several other big name dining destinations such as Cora Pearl, Frenchie and The Oystermen. Din Tai Fung Covent Garden’s dining room is a large, two-level space featuring wooden accents and plenty of natural light which comes in via a large skylight in the centre of the space.

The dining room’s main attraction is the glass box in the corner, which allows diners to see the famous steamed dumplings being made by hand by a team of somewhat austere looking chefs, who don masks and turn out the dumplings with assembly-line precision. While the xiao long bao are undoubtedly the stars of the show, Din Tai Fung’s extensive menu covers everything from pork and vegetable wontons to noodle soup with braised beef. There are some fun desserts too, including dumplings filled with ‘chocolate lava’ and a traditional Taiwanese sweet custard bun. 

Speedy service and affordable prices also add to the restaurant’s appeal.

Din Tai Fung Covent Garden is featured in

Location for Din Tai Fung Covent Garden

5 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8PT

020 3034 3888

Website

Opening Times

All day
Mon 11:00-22:30
Tue 11:00-22:30
Wed 11:00-22:30
Thu 11:00-22:30
Fri 11:00-22:30
Sat 11:00-22:30
Sun 11:00-22:30

Reviews of Din Tai Fung Covent Garden

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2 Reviews 
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Helen

Fantastic restaurant, really incredible service and delicious food!
28 October 2019  

I went to this restaurant on Friday evening with a friend. 

The atmosphere and service were faultless and the overall experience was brilliant!

I would 100% recommend this place. It’s like nowhere I’ve been before. The quality of the food and variety is amazing. 

Cant wait to go again

Food & Drink
Service
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Value

Sisi

Excellent foods, superb services and customer care
08 June 2019  

This is a fantastic restaurant, especially their speciality dishes. We first came across them in Seattle, USA, and again in Hong Kong. They are good there as they also just as high standard here in UK. 

Excellent services and fantastic customer care if you should  have any reason to complaint. They handled ours with great sensitivity and generosity to address our issues(we over ordered!). I am extremely impressed how they have looked into it, improved it and apologise for it.

Can't go wrong going to this restaurant. Both excellent foods and services. A fantastic dinning experience!

Worth the queue anytime!

 

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