Din Tai Fung Manila Food Review: Heavenly Crispy Beef Strips

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It was our second time to eat at Din Tai Fung Manila. But unlike our first trip there, this was totally unplanned. We literally just got lost in EDSA one afternoon: we were simply (yet again) having trouble deciding where to go or what to do that day. Then indecisiveness and a faulty Waze connection lead us to SM Megamall, so we immediately thought of eating some Xiao Long Baos at Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung Manila (Photo courtesy of Rappler.com: http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/best-eats/114039-din-tai-fung-manila-philippines-soup-dumplings-xiao-long-bao)

Din Tai Fung Manila (Photo courtesy of Rappler.com)

Din Tai Fung is a well-known Michelin-starred restaurant originating from Taiwan. They are popular for their delectable Xia Long Baos. These amazing soup dumplings of DTF made their way to the Philippines just last year. We were really looking forward to the Xiao Long Baos, but little did we know that we would actually find something else that we’d go crazy for from this place: their crispy beef strips!!

Here’s what we ordered:

  • Din Tai Fung House Special
  • Crispy Beef Strips
  • Pork Xiao Long Bao with Roasted Garlic
  • Fried Rice with Sweet Garlic and Scallions
  • Chocolate Lava Xiao Long Bao

Scroll down to see what we have to say about each of these dishes

Din Tai Fung House Special – Php 155
Neil’s Rating: 6/10
Gia’s Rating: 7/10
Din Tai Fung House Special (Photo courtesy of Rappler.com)

Din Tai Fung House Special (Photo courtesy of Rappler.com)

Neil: Well, this dish was interesting. It was a cold appetizer composed of seaweeds, tofu, glass noodles, and togue. It was our first time to try this kind of seaweed dish and I must say, I’m not a fan. Don’t get me wrong though, the taste was just fine. I particularly like the tofu. I’m just not into togue and seaweeds. This kind of food is simply not for everyone.

Gia: I decided to try this appetizer out since I’m a huge fan of seaweed – particularly the ones used in sushi (Nori). However, as it turns out, this was made up of a different kind of seaweed. It was an interesting dish, I must say, but I wasn’t a big fan of it as well. It tasted too much like the ocean (haha), and I literally got reminded of the time when we went swimming in a beach full of seaweeds. That’s how it felt like eating it. It actually tasted nice the first few bites, but then as I ate it more of it, I got reminded more and more of the seaweeds from the beach, and the idea just wasn’t appetizing for me.

Din Tai Fung Manila’s Crispy Beef Strips – Php 235
Neil’s Rating: 9/10
Gia’s Rating: 10/10
Din Tai Fung Manila Crispy Beef Strips

Din Tai Fung’s Heavenly Crispy Beef Strips – Php 235

Neil: We can agree that this was our hands-down favorite dish from all we ordered. She actually has more to say about this delicious dish ‘coz she was crazy about it haha! It was super tasty and savory. The closest flavor I can describe about this food, is that it’s sweet and spicy. And the balance of those flavors were just perfect. The beef, as the name implies was indeed crispy and not chewy. But the best part for me about this dish, is that it’s only Php235! Definitely sulit! 

Gia: I. Just. Loved. Everything. About. It. Just thinking about it still gives me foodgasm. I’m not good at perfectly describing flavors, but I’ll try my best. First, upon taking a bite of these heavenly crispy beef strips, I loved that it was true to its name – really crispy. Then the mixture of all the different flavors started to sink into my tongue: the savory beef, the sweet and sour sauce with that little spicy kick, and the hint of spices used like onions and bell peppers – all of them mingled perfectly in my mouth.

More than the mix of ingredients, it was the actual quality and level of cooking that I think made this dish more powerful. It was cooked in a way that it lessened the rawness of the typical sweet and sour taste, making the flavor a bit more sharp. This plus the fact that the beef strips were really crispy avoided us getting umay from the strongness of the flavors. I’m not good with words so they don’t give this dish justice, but all I can say is that I just loved this so much!! Definitely a must-try!

Din Tai Fung Manila’s Pork Xiao Long Bao with Roasted Garlic – Php 160 (5 pieces)
Neil’s Rating: 8/10
Gia’s Rating: 8/10
Din Tai Fung Manila's Pork Xiao Long Bao

Din Tai Fung Manila’s Pork Xiao Long Bao with Roasted Garlic – Php 160 (5 pieces)

Neil: Well, we just love xiao long baos. We can just eat dozens of xiao long baos any day and we will definitely be satisfied. We have tried this heavenly dimsum from several restaurants already but Din Tai Fung’s is one of my personal favorites. The quality and taste of the wrapper and the meat is definitely superb. We may be nitpicking a bit but we both agreed that the amount of soup inside seemed to be a little less for our liking (We love to eat Xiao Long Baos whole because having the soup explode in our mouths is a delight). Other than that, this dish is really good. Oh, and the after-taste of the roasted garlic was a great bonus for me.

Gia: I’m not sure if it’s just this particular batch that was served to us this time, but like what Neil said, I felt like these Xiao Long Baos lacked soup. We first got a taste of these soup dumplings from Din Tai Fung Manila around a year ago though, and I don’t remember myself getting disappointed over the amount of soup – so it’s probably just this batch. The soup is the main thing I really look forward to in Xiao Long Baos, so when I didn’t feel much soup bursting in my mouth, I got a bit disappointed. Overall though I still loved the Xiao Long Baos – the sauce made everything much much better (I love Din Tai Fung Manila’s vinegar!!).

Fried Rice with Sweet Garlic and Scallions – Php 100 (Serves two)
Neil’s Rating: 7/10
Gia’s Rating: 6/10

Din Tai Fung Manila Fried Rice with Sweet Garlic and Scallions

Din Tai Fung Manila’s Fried Rice with Sweet Garlic and Scallions

Neil: It was good but nothing really special. Just good old Chinese yang chow rice. The flavors of the garlic and scallions were not that strong but it was fine. The only negative thing about it is it was too oily. She particularly got thrown off with it, but at least it was relatively affordable and not overpriced.

Gia: I’m a huge fan of different kinds of fried rice. But this was a bit disappointing for me. It’s not that flavorful, so I don’t think it earns the right to be that oily. I mean, you know? I’d be willing to gorge oily foods (OK maybe not really “gorge”) as long as the flavor makes up for it, but this one was just.. oily and nothing much else but plain Chinese fried rice.

Din Tai Fung Manila’s Chocolate Lava Xiao Long Bao – Php 100 (3 pieces)
Neil’s Rating: 7.5/10
Gia’s Rating: 6/10

Din Tai Fung Manila's Choco Lava Xiao Long Bao

Din Tai Fung Manila’s Choco Lava Xiao Long Bao – Php 100 (3 pieces)

Din Tai Fung Manila's Chocolate Lava Xiao Long Bao - Php 100 (3 pieces)

Din Tai Fung Manila’s Chocolate Lava Xiao Long Bao – Php 100 (3 pieces)

Neil: This one is more for the experience. I mean there’s not a lot of places where you can find a chocolate dumpling. But in terms of flavor and quality especially of the chocolate, it is not really special (We actually thought that the chocolate somehow tastes loke choki choki hahaha!). What you can enjoy with this dish is the combination of the wrapper and the chocolate which is a bit weird but somehow works, and the explosion of the rich chocolate in your mouth as you chew the xiao long bao.

Gia: I was disappointed by the quality of the chocolate – it really just tasted like choki choki (or choco-choco?) in a dumpling wrapper. The pairing of the soft, thick, and bland dumpling wrapper with what tasted like chocolate I would suck from a plastic wrapper in my childhood didn’t really satisfy me.

The Verdict

To recap our accidental food review, here are our ratings:

  • DTF House Special
    • Neil: 6/10
    • Gia: 7/10
  • Crispy Beef Strips
    • Neil: 9/10
    • Gia: 10/10
  • Pork Xiao Long Bao with Crispy Garlic
    • Neil: 8/10
    • Gia: 8/10
  • Fried Rice with Sweet Garlic and Scallions
    • Neil: 7/10
    • Gia: 6/10
  • Chocolate XIao Long Bao
    • Neil: 7.5/10
    • Gia: 6/10
  • Value for Money:
    • Neil: 8/10
    • Gia: 8/10
  • Over-all DTF Manila Experience:
    • Neil: 8/10
    • Gia: 9/10

With the pleasant surprise from our second visit at Din Tai Fung Manila, we can’t wait for what’s in store for us for our third time. Any suggestions? Feel free to comment below!

– Neil

Din Tai Fung Philippines is located at:

G/F Mega Fashion Hall,
SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City

+632 997 1935, +632 997 1936, +632 997 0931

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