Slideshow: Are Din Tai Fung's Soup Dumplings Worth the Wait?

Watching the Dumpling-Making
Watching the Dumpling-Making

Kids can pass the time watching the dumplings getting made. Adults, too! It's a fun peek into the inner workings of the operation.

In the Din Tai Fung Kitchen
In the Din Tai Fung Kitchen

Here's a closer look inside the kitchen. The number of people making the xiao long bao is impressive, with the workers frequently consulting with each to check quality.

Making Dumplings
Making Dumplings

It's an endless process of rolling dough, filling it, and then careful crimping. Each dumpling must meet the very high Din Tai Fung standards.

The Lack of Droop Means Not Enough Soup
The Lack of Droop Means Not Enough Soup

The quality of the xiao long bao is fine, but the missing teardrop-like droop indicates that there's not enough soup inside.

Shrimp & Pork Shao Mai ($12.50 for 10 pieces), Soon to Be Available
Shrimp & Pork Shao Mai ($12.50 for 10 pieces), Soon to Be Available

As much as I like xiao long bao, my favorite dish at Din Tai Fung might be these shrimp and pork shao mai. When they become available at the Seattle location (several menu items are currently unavailable), you too can enjoy their juiciness.

Hot and Sour Soup ($7 for medium, pictured)
Hot and Sour Soup ($7 for medium, pictured)

The hot and sour soup had all of the expected elements, but unfortunately, it wasn't particularly (spicy) hot or sour.

Pork Chop Fried Rice ($8.25)
Pork Chop Fried Rice ($8.25)

There are a few fried rice dishes, with pork chop perhaps the most popular option. The pork is incredibly tender, but also inexcusably bland. I was actually looking for a salt shaker. As for the fried rice, I hope that over time wok hay will add smoky flavor to it.

Shanghai Rice Cake with Chicken ($8.25)
Shanghai Rice Cake with Chicken ($8.25)

The rice cake dish proved to be a similar story to the fried rice. I loved the chewiness of the discs, but overall the dish would benefit from a bit of seasoning to bring out more flavors. At this point of the meal, I starting thinking about MSG.

Seaweed and Bean Curd in Vinegar Dressing ($4.50)
Seaweed and Bean Curd in Vinegar Dressing ($4.50)

In the main dining room of Din Tai Fung, you can find a cold case with several appetizers, like sliced cucumbers and soy noodle salad. This seaweed and bean curd is a good starter, though I'd enjoy the vinegar flavor as a starch-cutter throughout my meal.

The Line at the Door
The Line at the Door

If you have the ability to arrive before opening on a weekday, you can likely get a table without a wait. Otherwise, expect a line. Good news: You can go shopping and get notified when your table is ready.