Legendary dumpling house comes to the U-District

Din Tai Fung, a Taiwan-headquartered dumpling franchise has chosen the University Village for their next U.S. location (Photo by Andrew Tat)

Taiwan-headquartered Din Tai Fung has made their signature xiao long bao dumpling famous in East Asia, Australia, and even Bellevue. Now the restaurant is opening a new location near the UW campus.

The exact science of a Din Tai Fung dumpling can be boiled down to months and grams: six months of rigorous chef training to master precisely 21 grams of dumpling perfection. Each xiao long bao dumpling is made to order with a uniform weight of dough (5 grams) flattened and artfully pinched together to wrap the savory meat morsel inside (16 grams).

The calculated experimentation took the Din Tai Fung family far over the decades since the company began in 1958. Their restaurant has been lauded in media worldwide since the 1990s, and now stretches across the globe to open branches in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and the United States.

David Wasielewski Yang brought the legacy to the Northwest in 2010 as owner of Din Tai Fung Dumpling House in Bellevue, and he will be taking on an exciting calculated venture in opening a second Seattle dumpling house in Seattle’s University Village before the end of 2013 — a restaurant that will have more than 8,000 square feet to add to the Bellevue location’s approximate 7,000.

“I hope that our Seattle store will be as successful as their Bellevue store,” Yang said.

Four years after opening, shoppers on the second level of Bellevue’s Lincoln Square can still see lines far outside the dumpling house. Since the Bellevue branch is one of only three U.S. locations (the other two are in Arcadia, California), many of Yang’s customers come from as far as Vancouver, B.C. and Portland, Oregon, he said. The timing is just right to open a second store.

The delectables patrons still wait hours for at Din Tai Fung dumpling houses throughout Asia, in Australia and the U.S. (Photo by Andrew Tat)The delectables patrons still wait hours for at Din Tai Fung dumpling houses throughout Asia, in Australia and the U.S. (Photo by Andrew Tat)

“After a couple years of pretty steady business, Seattle would be a good opportunity for us,” Yang said. “Part of the excitement of opening the second store is gathering everything we’ve learned the past couple years and applying it at the new location.”

This includes ways of making the restaurant more efficient. Though it’s a good sign that customers will still wait more than an hour to eat at the dumpling house, Yang doesn’t want customers to wait any longer than 45 minutes.

“[Opening the second store] can alleviate some of the wait time for guests here, and tackle a new market,” he said.

The University of Washington (UW) alumni and Seattle University Albers Business School graduate said that Din Tai Fung is assessing new ways to introduce the product to this market, and also hopes that it will give his loyal Eastside patronage a reason to cross the 520 bridge — something that will reduce wait time at both locations.

“They’re very excited for us,” Yang noted of his Bellevue following.

Yang is grateful to his patronage and Din Tai Fung founders Yang Bingyi and Lai Penmei for their support over the years. He calls Yang and Lai his family.

“They gave me the opportunity to have a shout out here,” he said. “[The Din Tai Fung founders] were very supportive of opening the second store as well. It’s been a really positive relationship so far.”

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This story was originally published in the International Examiner

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