Din Tai Fung Restaurant in Yokohama

XiaoLongBao: Savory & delicious soup-filled dumplings

By Jessica A Paje    - 3 min read

In 1993, The New York Times named this restaurant “One of Top 10 Gourmet Restaurants in the World.” In 2012, Los Angeles Times Readers voted it “Best Chinese Restaurant” of Southern California. Founded in 1958 and headquartered in Taiwan, DinTaiFung has several locations in Japan much to my delight. If you are already familiar with their XiaoLongBao then you’ll know how extremely good these delicate steamed dumplings are. If not, then I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s a world famous brand dish!

What is XiaoLongBao? They are buns traditionally steamed in bamboo baskets with a soupy center. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the key to the savory soupy center is that it is made with a collagen-rich pig skin that is solid at low temperatures but melts into liquid when the dumpling is steamed. They have thin skins, exactly 18 pleats a piece. The chefs use electronic scales to make sure each dumpling weighs exactly 21 grams before steaming.

Let’s get started! First, hot jasmine tea is delivered to your table. Keep in mind this is a Taiwanese restaurant so the plates are smaller than usual; they’re just large enough to enjoy XiaoLongBao one at a time. The menu has pictures of every dish along with English translations and calorie count, so it makes ordering very simple. If you won’t have room to try various dishes from the menu such as Steamed Dumplings, Buns, Soups or Noodles, you must be sure to have their specialty, XiaoLongBao, and save room for dessert (the steamed mango dumplings are my favorite!). Lastly, follow the step-by-step guide to enjoy the XiaoLongBao: 1) Put sauce into ginger dish, 2) Take XiaoLongBao with chopsticks and dip in the sauce (grab them from the pleats), 3) Place XiaoLongBao in the Chinese spoon and poke a small hole to release the broth, 4) Enjoy XiaoLongBao with some ginger and the broth. Caution, contents are hot!

On the DinTaiFung website, there is reference to a Top 20 list. However, I am more than happy to share with you my favorites here! Stir Fry Water Spinach ¥840, Pork XiaoLongBao (Steamed Pork Dumplings with Pork Soup, 6 pcs) ¥819, Three Sorted Steamed Seafood Dumplings ¥1,197, Shrimp & Pork Shao-Mai, 6 pcs ¥945, Shrimp & Pork Wonton Noodle Soup ¥1,155, Three Sorted Steamed Sweet Dumplings (Red bean, Mango & Purple Sweet Potato) ¥630, and Fried Rice with Shrimp ¥1,050. For three people this selection was definitely filling.

Altogether, DinTaiFung has twelve locations serving Japan. The closest one to Yokosuka is at the Takashimaya Department Store in Yokohama. Located on the 8th Floor of the Rose Dining section, plan on being there early or you’ll probably have to queue up by taking a seat along the wall. But it’s definitely worth the wait! By train, exit JR Yokohama Station (West Entrance). If traveling by car, Takashimaya Parking is free for the first 90 minutes if you make one purchase of 2,000 yen or more.

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Jessica A Paje

Jessica A Paje @jessica.paje

Originally from San Diego, California, I lived in Yokosuka, Japan, for 5 years. In 2010, I arrived with a new outlook on my future. Mainly, to refocus on family and let my curiosities take us to places we’ve only dreamt of. Along the way, we’d hopefully develop new friendships and simply collect memories to last a lifetime. Then, there was the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. I will never forget that experience and the devastating effects it had on the entire country. I asked the community, “What can I do to help?” Collecting, sorting, and packing donations, was the least I could do. I also went to California for 1 month, raised a monetary donation for Red Cross, and secured phone interviews to help spread the word on how others from the USA could assist. I was determined to show my family, friends, and folks across the world that it would be okay to return to Japan. I wanted them to know that the little things that make up this beautiful country still existed. What better way than to use a platform such as Japan Travel to share photos and stories full of life, history, and culture. It is a pleasure to say I have contributed more than 150 articles to a database that now collectively holds more than 15,000! This journey has not only allowed me to realize my initial goals, but I’d like to think that it has somehow played a role in sparking an interest locally and across the globe for others to experience all that is published here and more. I invite you to also share your wonderful stories, offer comments, and ask questions right here. Feel free to contact me at jessica.paje@japantravel.com. Safe travels! ٩( ๑╹ ꇴ╹)۶

Join the discussion

Nicole Bauer 7 years ago
Oh I love Din Tai Fun! Many thanks for sharing your favorites. Will try some of them next time. There is also one in Tokyo at the Takashiyama store in Shinjuku, right at the station. Even if you are not planning to eat there, it's worth to have a look how they make the dumplings; there is a window from where you can peek into the are where they are made. The speed of those guys is incredible!