Yesterday, Louie and Jacqueline received text messages from Louie’s cousin Danielle in Las Vegas: Din Tai Fung’s original location in Arcadia, California, is closing! Oh no. Twenty years ago, after reading a Los Angeles Times review about a new Taiwanese dumpling house, Louie said, “Let’s go!” It was less than a 10-minute drive down the hill from our home. Ever since, after countless meals through the years, we have felt like a part of the Din Tai Fung family. In the early days, husband and wife team Frank and JoAnn, always greeted us. Frank with his friendly laughter and JoAnn with her elegance and beautiful smile. Fast forward to the 21st century, it has become one of the most famous dumpling house chains in the world. But June 11 would be the original location’s last day of operation.
Relieved to know that their larger restaurants will continue -- in the US, the UK, Australia, and all over Asia, we felt that in their honor, we simply had to order Din Tai Fung takeout for dinner – a “last harrah”! In fact, takeout has been the only option since Covid-19 took over the world. According to an article I read this morning, the closure was attributed to the fall out of the pandemic that forced this difficult business decision.
It’s not just that we will no longer enjoy the convenience of its intimate size in a mini-mall (a second Arcadia location is inside the nearby Westfield Mall). It’s the personal connection that breaks our hearts. Frank used to tell us about its beginning in Taiwan when his father ran a tiny café with only two tables (outside the building). We remember meeting his father during some of his visits to Los Angeles. Then we met their young sons who would be groomed for their future and are now at the helm of the Din Tai Fung legacy.
Its food has remained consistently divine since we first experienced biting into its signature juicy pork dumplings, its soup sometimes dribbling down our chins. Din Tai Fung knows the happiness its food brings to its fans.
To boot, Din Tai Fung takeout is ceremonious with dumplings carefully packed in “designer boxes” and condiments are meticulously wrapped in cellophane bags. Along with plushy napkins and wooden chopsticks, they are placed in glossy handle bags – a reminder that its contents is precious cargo.
We’re not fans of big indoor shopping malls, but that won’t stop us from making the “trek” when we have our next craving for dumplings.