COCONUTS HOT SPOT — About time Taiwanese-legend Din Tai Fung opened shop in Metro Manila, on the ground floor of SM Mega Fashion Hall.
The eatery, famous for its delectable xiao long baos — steamed soup dumplings — hosted a stellar opening last night which was attended by end-of-termer President Noynoy Aquino and his preferred successor Mar Roxas, as were Moment Group and DTF chairman Warren Yang, who unveiled the 164-seater restaurant.
The Megamall location, Din Tai Fung’s first in Manila, aims to assist the restaurant’s flow by having a designated entrance and exit. The entrace to the restaurant is by the the still-popular Tim Ho Wan while the exit is by Uniqlo.
The dining area, colored off-white, is spacious and clean. Tables are nicely spaced out, giving diners enough elbow room to attack the xiao long baos and the tray-carrying waiters space to move around.
The classic xiao long bao (starts from PHP160), delicately folded 18-21 times, is of course the DTF headliner. How the wrapping delicately breaks as you bite into it, revealing a tasty warm broth and soft ground pork inside, is closest we’ve had to a perfect XLB.
Waiters will show first-timers how to use the black vinegar sauce to flavor the dumpling.
There are four kinds of XLB here, all available in 5 and 10 pieces. Crab roe and pork (starts PHP285), chicken (starts PHP160), green squash and shrimp (starts PHP160), and truffle (starts PHP135).
The Salted Egg Prawns (PHP375), which along with the Sweet and Sour Pork, Hot Prawn Salad, Fried Chicken Cutlets and Crispy Beef Strips, are dishes served only in the Philippines.
It’s a staple in most Chinese restaurants in Manila but DTF Philippines does it better, less watered down, and with the fresh shrimps generously coated with the salted egg batter.
While the Black Pepper Beef (PHP375) is tasty, nothing is more comforting that the Sweet and Sour Pork (PHP245) paired with the Salted Fish Fried Rice (PHP185).
The golden lava salted egg yolk bun (PHP85), another Manila special, is a fitting end to the meal.
DTF’s pricing is affordable, and the portions are modest, with food better shared with a group than alone.
Din Tai Fung, G/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong. 11am-9pm. +63 2 9971935, +63 2 9971936
Black Pepper Beef (PHP375) is an easy no-fail choice
While delicious, the Dan Dan noodles with spicy sesame and peanut sauce (PHP120) is pretty heavy. You may want to save precious stomach space for the rice and the salted egg prawn!
Do not overlook the salted egg prawns (PHP375). What yum
The sweet and sour pork (PHP245) is one of the few DTF dishes that’s available only in the Philippines
The Xiao Long Bao (starts PHP160) of course is Din Tai Fung’s claim to fame
The salted fish fried rice (PHP185) is panalo