Happy Valentine’s Chinese New Year?! 😀
The other day, we went to SM Megamall to buy a few things. We didn’t really plan to go out for Valentine’s Day because we had plans for the weekend. And while I like flowers, I don’t really appreciate them, especially when a nice bouquet costs around a thousand pesos. I feel like, instead of spending that P1,000 on flowers that I am going to throw out in a couple of weeks, just give me the money nalang, I can buy more useful things that I actually like. 😀
I like flowers, but only if they are affordable (occasional visits to Dangwa) 😀 I just plant easy to grow flowers so I have something nice to see everyday and it’s sorta free (except for the watering and occasional fertilizing), and I can cut some flowers whenever I want to put them in a vase or something. There are also the added benefits of having good chi and the plants purifying the air (more oxygen, less carbon dioxide).
So here we are, after buying the car stuff for his new car, like how most new car owners get excited about sprucing up their new car, J asked me where I wanted to have lunch. I finally decided to try Din Tai Fung. This is the first time we’ve dined at Din Tai Fung in Manila. I know it’s been open for a while, but there were always long lines. Besides, I’ve already dined at Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong, so I didn’t feel the need to go with the crowd in Manila.
DIN TAI FUNG + FEBRUARY PROMO (Free Mango Sago)
What do you know, they had a promo for February! All the more reason to finally try Din Tai Fung in Manila.
Fortunately, there weren’t any lines this time and we were seated immediately. The service was pretty good. They even gave me a bag holder thing where I could put my bag.
They give you this order slip where you can indicate your order:
After you place your order, they give back your total right away, even if the food has not yet arrived 🙂
They gave us some ginger strips, and we could mix our own xlb dipping sauce using the rice vinegar and brewed soy sauce.
We ordered the Xiao Long Bao (xlb), of course. We got 5 pcs of the Pork Xiao Long Bao (P160 for 5 pcs, P315 for 10 pcs), and 2 pcs of the Foie Gras and Chicken Xiao Long Bao (they are P135 each!). The xlbs were really good. The skin was thin but flexible, the xlbs contained a lot of soup. Each mouthful of dumpling was a burst of tasty ground pork and soup.
They gave us another set of soup spoon and sauce bowl each for the foie gras xlb, and our waiter explained that this was so that we can taste the foie gras xlb on its own without mixing the flavors with the pork xlb. You can mix your own sauce for the foie gras xlb, maybe something more sour, less sour, more salty, less salty… it’s up to you.
The foie gras xlb did not scrimp on the foie gras. There’s enough foie gras flavor there to know that you’re having the foie gras xlb. Is it worth the P135 price per dumpling? For me, no. But for J, he thinks it’s worth it and he really loves it. He loves foie gras and anything duck. For me, I thought it was just the same pork xlb filling (except it’s chicken) that they added some foie gras into. I mean, the regular xlb is P160 for 5 pcs, and this one is P135 per piece, yet they only added maybe 1/2 tsp of foie gras at most. I don’t think it’s worth almost 4.2x the price of a regular xlb… foie gras isn’t that expensive.
But J just couldn’t have enough of the foie gras xlb so he ordered 4 more… 😀 I can tell Din Tai Fung is going to be one of his favorite restaurants from now on.
Too bad, one of the foie gras xlbs was leaking 🙁 (the one at the top)
We also ordered the Crispy Beef (for sharing, P460) and some Fried Rice with Sweet Garlic and Scallions (P115). The Crispy Beef was delicious and reminded me of the sizzling beef steak of other Chinese restaurants, but in crispy beef strips version. I think we should have just ordered the smaller size for the Crispy Beef and ordered an additional dish instead. After eating a lot of the crispy beef, medyo nakakaumay na. Delicious, but we really should have ordered another dish pa to break the monotony. Tip for next time.
As for payment, the customer has to take the “bill” to the counter and pay there.
And then we forgot to get our free mango sago! Fortunately, as we were walking out the door, I saw the promo sign and remembered 😀 They still let us claim it even if we had already finished paying our bill.
Unfortunately, even if our final bill was P1,600+, we still only got one free mango sago 🙁 I thought they would give us 3… or at least give us one each. But they said they based it per receipt so we only get one. Sigh. What are your thoughts on splitting the bill to P500+ each so we can get 3 of the freebies, or at least 2? Do you think that’s an okay thing to do? Why, or why not, if you’re technically following their rules?
LOL, so we split our mango sago 😀 To be fair, their mango sago was good. Real milky evap, and I tasted sweet, floral mango. The sago was soft. There’s even some suha (pomelo). It’s not the like the mango sago of other restaurants where they just open a can of Gina, add a lot of ice and sago, mix and that’s it.
How does the Manila Din Tai Fung compare to the Hong Kong branch?
I ate at the Din Tai Fung HK Causeway Bay branch (Yee Wo, Regal Hotel) maybe 3-4 years ago. It’s been awhile but the impression I remember is that the food in the HK branch had more delicate flavors (dimsum, xiao long bao). The xiao long bao we had at the SM Megamall branch was slightly stronger seasoned. I’m not saying that it is too salty or anything, it’s not. But maybe it’s a regional preference and they find that the customers here in Manila prefer things a bit saltier.
I also thought the ginger strips were still too thick (Manila), I prefer it when the ginger is cut very fine, as near to hair-like as possible. The top of the xiao long bao here also seemed a bit thick to me, but that’s just nitpicking on my part.
Another thing I missed is that in HK, they gave us little slips of paper with some tips on how to enjoy eating the xiao long bao, similar to the one being given out by Paradise Dynasty in S Maison. There were also signs on the table in HK showing some instructions on what to do. Of course, I’m not a novice xiao long bao eater, but other people might find those things helpful.
In terms of food quality and flavor, I would consider Din Tai Fung to be on the same level as Gloriamaris – not the same, but on the same level, and Din Tai Fung’s XLB is really one of the best I’ve had. Of course, Din Tai Fung is also more casual. The food at Din Tai Fung is definitely much better than any old generic Chinese restaurant fare, even if Din Tai Fung is a very casual restaurant.
Price-wise, it’s on the higher side, considering how casual it is that you have to pay your bill at the cashier yourself; but still acceptable if you consider that it’s an import of the Michelin-starred chain. If you avoid the pricey items like the foie gras xlb, maybe it won’t be so bad.
Service – the staff were energetic – not like they were hyper, but they weren’t sleepy or tired looking, and when their attention was called, they come to you right away. I also appreciated how they made sure to explain everything. I also observed that the kitchen staff brings the food out from the kitchen to near your table, and then your waiter is the one who takes the food from kitchen guy and sets it on your table. I just noticed it because it’s different from the usual where it’s the waiter who gets the food and brings it to you. 🙂
Anyway, I’m happy that the money was spent here rather than on flowers. We had a great time and enjoyed good food.
Din Tai Fung SM Megamall
Ground Floor, Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!