Birthday Gluttony, Continued…

More people cooking for me. Awesome. This time the whole crew at DTF.

More people cooking for me…awesome. This time the whole crew at DTF.

To really top off the birthday celebration–I know, I was milking it–we headed into Seattle for a little time at the Burke Museum, some back-to-school shopping, and then…wait for it…DIN TAI FUNG! Kind of a tradition the last couple years, and I haven’t been back since the last birthday, but I’ve been dreaming about those soup dumplings for an entire year.

Ta-Da! Shanghainese soup dumplings--xiao long bao--at DTF.

Ta-Da! Shanghainese soup dumplings–xiao long bao–at DTF.

And they did not disappoint. Tender noodle wrappers that burst with ginger-y pork broth when you bite into them. Actually, everything at DTF is pretty mind blowing. We also had the subtle, delicate won ton soup, a lightly pickled red-chile cucumber salad, savory seaweed salad, crispy potstickers and the hand-cut noodles. And more soup dumplings. All of it with an exceptional intensity of flavor you just don’t experience anywhere else. Hard to believe this is a chain restaurant, but if you’re ever in the area, it’s more than worth the wait.

Mom's blackberry pie, vanilla ice cream, my two best buddies and their goofy dad. Great day.

Hey look, the goofball in the middle is only one-year old.

When we returned home, it was, of course, pie time. Did I mention this is The Greatest Pie In The World? Oh, man. The perfect ending to a fantastic birthday. And on that note, I think I better go jogging now.

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Three Words: Din Tai Fung

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Yes, I’m shifting gears and going completely off subject here, but when the food fishing gets tough, the tough head into the city. Which is to say, we finally made it to the High Temple of All Soup Dumplings: Din Tai Fung. After a little family crabbing and a fun circumnavigation of the island in our boat, which I’d never done before, we took the ferry to Seattle for my birthday dinner at DTF. Man, was I stoked.

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After all the years of thinking about it, and being scared off by reported three-hour waits, and watching Anthony Bourdain on TV saying DTF had the best soup dumplings in the world, all I can say is that it did not disappoint. In fact, the whole experience was even better than I dreamed. Those soup dumplings! Delicate, perfectly steamed pasta holding an amazing savory pork broth and ground pork with ginger, garlic and who knows what else. Easily the best soup dumplings I’ve ever had (even better than the ones we had at a little hole-in-the-wall in Richmond, BC) and in fact, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Period.

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And it wasn’t just the soup dumplings. Pretty much everything (except the hot and sour soup) was incredible. The shrimp shumai, filled with the same broth and pork combo on the bottom and topped with a layer of shrimp that held the soup in; the cucumber salad with kimchee-like marinade; the bean-curd and bean-sprout salad, the chicken with handmade noodles…every dish a unique and serious explosion of flavor. The secret, we discovered, is to go at off hours…we went ahead of the early dinner crowd and only waited seven minutes. Happy, happy birthday dinner. And I’m already dreaming of my triumphant return!