Two summers ago I had the incredible experience of going to China with my family. Now that I’m back it’s really hard to find authentic Chinese food. I had to go all the way to Arcadia from mid-city Los Angeles to a restaurant called Din Tai Fung.
I first went to Din Tai Fung in China and the food was so good we went back. So, when we found out that there was one here, we had to go. Was the food worth the drive to Arcadia (more than an hour from my house)? Completely. The specialty is juicy pork dumplings: dumplings (steamed pieces of dough) filled with hot soup and pork. They are beyond belief. Be sure to follow the instructions for eating them that come on the chopsticks wrapper. They also have incredible shrimp shu mai, another kind of dumpling.
If you’re not in the mood for dumplings (but who isn’t in the mood for dumplings?), try the sour and spicy soup. Sour and spicy soup is one of my favorite Chinese foods, but it is very hard to find in L.A. (although you can get it on every corner in New York). It’s not too spicy and not too sour, but it will warm you up from the inside out and make your taste buds jump for joy. I also would recommend the Shanghai rice cakes. Imagine your favorite stir-fried noodles but in the shape of little, delicious "cakes."
Din Tai Fung is a chain restaurant, but probably not what you would think of as a chain restaurant. It first opened in Taiwan, then moved to China, then to the rest of Asia and finally the United States. There are two Din Tai Fungs in the United States, and strangely, they are both in the same building in Arcadia.
For a real, authentic taste of China, the long drive is definitely worth it. Unfortunately they are too far away to get take out.
Din Tai Fung
1108 South Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia CA 91007
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m.