[Hong Kong] Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐 Causeway Bay- still much better than DTF San Jose

A month or two after eating at the Valley Fair DTF in San Jose, USA, I got to eat at DTF in Hong Kong. Before going there I remembered my XLBs at DTF three years ago in Tsim Sha Tsui was significantly better than the San Jose ones, so I was eager to determine if my memories were playing tricks or if DTF San Jose really was weaker.

Xiao long bao- both the filling and the soup were significantly better than San Jose’s, which I thought were decent but nothing special.

Dan dan mian- winner. Better than the San Xi Lou version.

Nicely done dumplings- steamed

No love for this Taiwanese beef noodle soup,

and this dessert.

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What is that dessert supposed to be?

赤豆鬆糕. Red bean in some sort of cake. Just say no unless you like this cake elsewhere.

Our fourth time to Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong. We are so fond of the memory of the first time, the Xiao Long Bao was like an eye opener (in Causeway Bay) it was one of the best meal of the trip that year. Ever since, we returned when we were in Hong Kong.

This time we went to the branch in Silvercord, Tsim Sha Tsui. We had a short wait of 10 minutes and they gave us a table.

Pork head in jelly - quite good for me, husband thinks the this version it has less flavour than the French one

Shrimp and pork wonton noodle soup

Pan-fried shrimp & pork dumplings - Skin was too thick and hard

Shredded beancurd & seaweed in vinegar dressing - maybe the best dish of the night, not a dish that requires a lot of skill

Xiao Long Bao - OK, skin seemed thicker than before.

Glutinous rice and pork Shao-Mai - Barely warm, not particularly interesting

Steamed vegetable and pork dumplings - very disappointing, the vegetables were tasteless, I had the feeling of chewing on cardboard (frozen vegetables?!)

Taiwanese style Dan Dan noodle

Don’t know if it was their off day or just the Silvercord branch was not as good. It was my second time here. Last time it was alright. If @sck 's experience in Causeway Bay was still good this year, I think seriously something wrong in the kitchen of branch… I am not planning to return.

Maybe the small queue in front of the restaurant was already an indication.
Sorry to see this downfall! Very disappointed.

One thing I made a mental note of was when I went to the Causeway Bay branch, they plastered their outside wall with claims of 2012 Michelin Star or something like that. At the time I thought its not good to hang onto past fame.

In any case, I had a meal at Silvercord a few years ago. Obviously we ordered differently last time, but I came out of that meal thinking the food quality was high for the price that we paid and it was a satisfying meal. This meal, while relative to the DTF meal I had a few months ago in San Jose, California, was much more successful (that one I thought was average, and expensive), I didn’t feel overall it was as good as the one from a few years ago at Silvercord. Prices went up significantly too in the last few years that I thought with the same amount of money spent, we could have a much better meal elsewhere in the city.

This is also the impression I got this year, prices in food raised at lot but not particularly the quality. This year when i asked friends about good restaurants recommendations in Hong Kong, they all shake their head, saying especially in rent expensive areas, there is no more good food. There is still a bit chance to try the fringe areas. Once I talk to a restaurant owner, he said, restaurants are in difficult time, with so many competition, rent problem (can be up to 4 times just in several years) and no young ones want to work in kitchen (they prefer entering the financial sector), he said food industry doesn’t look positive at all in Hong Kong. He was quite honest to say that many ingredients they couldn’t afford fresh products but used frozen food to lower the cost.

Yes, generally for all restaurants. Though I was referring specifically to DTF. My meal a few years ago was deemed good value vs other similarly priced meal in the city. I didn’t have the same impression about this year’s DTF meal.

There is an interesting phenomenon in HK, when a restaurant is awarded Michelin star in a certain year, it seems to become a lifetime event, even the fact they lost it, they still have a big panel advertisement on it. (Case in Din Tat Fung). While in France, if a restaurant lose a star, it is a shameful event and they don’t want to mention or talk about. In the case of Ah Hung in airport or DTF, it creates a confusion for diners.

I wonder if they will decide to take down the Michelin star panel at some point? 10 years after? I mean if its 2038 and they are still talking about their 2012 star it gets a bit awkward.

After dining at the several locations and finally having a chance to dine at the original branch in Taipei. I have concluded DTF is overrated.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold