Din Tai Fung #2 - Arcadia
The second location of Din Tai Fung, located within steps of the original, has now been open for more than a year. But as I predicted in a post I wrote about the original Din Tai Fung in Arcadia two years ago, it wouldn't make the lines any shorter.
And that's exactly what has happened. At dinner time today, the usual glut of people crammed the original storefront, as well as this one -- its sleeker, spit-polished sister location next door.
This isn't my first visit, or even my second to the new digs, which looks as dandy as anything in Beverly Hills. Frankly, I've already lost count of how many times I've actually driven up to Arcadia to feast on their juicy pork dumplings at both locations.
At my first time at the new store about a year ago, the staff was still a little wobbly on its feet and the food, slightly off. Figures: it was around opening day when things weren't gelling yet. But look how far they've come. They've matured and matched their master on efficiency.
In fact, both restaurants are so efficient, so well-oiled and well-managed, it's nothing short of choreographed.
At the hostess podium tonight, a tiny and cherubic Chinese gal about half my height had the confidence and fortitude of an air traffic controller. With a flick of her pen and an earpiece walkie talkie, she kept the turnover going -- hungry people in, satiated out. Hers was a job that required constant vigilance. The typical teenage window dressing would blanche and wither at her station.
We were seated in record time: 10 minutes after we arrived.
Once settled into our chairs, the first dish came out within seconds. And the next, seconds after that. The minute something was finished, it would be whisked away. Water glasses were topped off without asking.
And the food? Identical in every way to what they serve next door. Our juicy pork dumplings, those lovingly crimped pouches, burst with broth. In their spicy beef soup, hunks of tender tendon and long-braised meat swam with spinach beneath a dark, spicy liquid with a red chili-oil shimmer. And of course, there was the green beans, which are done in the classic Chinese manner -- a quick hot oil blanching and a toss with garlic. Each spear crisp, snappy, vibrant. No other preparation of green beans is so reverential to its original texture.
After we ambled out rubbing our stomachs, we saw our diminutive hostess already sending the next set of eager and hungry mouths to take our place.
Din Tai Fung #2
1088 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Myung Dong Kal Guksu - Anaheim*
*Special Thanks to polar for the tip on Myung Dong Kal Guksu.