Monday, July 11, 2011

The Service at Din Tai Fung - Arcadia

For every blog post that I've written about Din Tai Fung (there are two thus far: read them HERE and HERE), I've made at least five more visits to the restaurant that remain undocumented. Really, there's not much else I can say about the food. It remains as excellent as it's always been. The crisp snap of their flash-fried sauteed green beans; the anise aroma and vinegar tang of their dark-as-tea spicy beef soup; and, of course, the reason there is a Din Tai Fung: those perfectly steamed, broth-spewing juicy pork dumplings--a creation that has inspired two hour lines, and a few years ago, a second restaurant right next door.

In terms of the food, my most recent visit this weekend was no different than others; but their service seems to have been transformed. What was efficient but cold has become a model that all Chinese restaurant, nay, all restaurants should follow. The staff is all smiles, even obsequious and, dare I say, caring?

One uniformed hostess offered cups of ice water to those waiting outside in the Arcadia heat. When we were seated, our table was ready and spotless, the chopsticks and other accouterments in place.

We asked for water and they provided an icy carafe that was constantly changed out with a fresh one when they saw we were running low. Meals were still delivered promptly, the dishes ticked off from our tableside roster as each one came. Empty plates were whisked away to make room for what was next.

Another notable change: menus with pictures that eliminate the mystery of ordering for customers who, these days, aren't just Chinese speakers. Because of this picture menu, I discovered Din Tai Fung now offers marinated cucumbers: slightly salty, perky, sesame-oil scented rounds stacked like green bricks and whose cool and crunchy bite sent a frigid shiver up my spine.

And when we couldn't eat another bite, they took away our leftovers, packed it neatly in boxes, the soup in an air-tight lidded container, everything wrapped and tied up in specially-designed carry out bags that has a tie-down strap in the middle. It's probably the most ingenious plastic bag in the country. Yes, I'm obsessing on the bag...the same way they seem to be obsessing on customer service these days.

Din Tai Fung #2
(626) 446-8588
1088 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007

Starfish - Laguna Beach


At 10:50 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

It's great to hear how the service has changed; it makes the wait more worthwhile, that's for sure.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger NP said...

Haha; I go to DTF in Taipei all the time and I always complain how bad the US service is ; last time I heard from the restaurant manager at the location we were at and was told "Our management is aware of this"

At 9:39 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Yes, so true. Although I have a very high tolerance for bad service as long as the food is good, Din Tai Fung needs to have more than average service after those waits...and now, in my opinion, they do.


A friend of mine who swears by the Taipei store and hasn't gone to the Arcadia one says that the Taipei practically serves you hand and foot. We're not quite there yet here, but man they really have gotten better in my opinion.

At 12:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo, regarding your review of Din Tai Fung, what is the dish that appears to be a piece of pan fried meat over rice (Picture #3)?

At 5:45 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Ah, yes. That is the pork chop fried rice, which is simply that: A fried pork chop over a mound of their fried rice. They offer the fried rice separately (with shrimp and bits of pork), and they offer the fried pork chop as a side. But it's best to order it this way if you want both: you save a couple of bucks!

At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Crystal said...

The service at DTF is worth nothing! My mom left her chopsticks (she brings her own metal chopsticks to restaurants)there and a server brought them to her while she was at Phoenix next door. She didn't even realize until that moment that she had left her chopsticks behind!

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Crystal said...

I meant to write "worth noting" above, not "worth nothing"!

At 6:00 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


LOL! That extra letter *DOES* make a world of difference, doesn't it?!

Thanks for the comment!


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