Din Tai Fung | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Din Tai Fung

photo by Danny Liao

More often than not, going to the San Gabriel Valley to eat means going to the San Gabriel Valley to eat xiao long bao, those soup dumplings filled with minced pork and boiling hot broth, which are brought to your table in steaming silver covered baskets and unveiled with a flourish. While there are those who may quibble with Din Tai Fung — that its dumpling skins are too thin, that its prices are a whopping buck or two more than other XLB joints — it’s hard to not at least appreciate how terrific DTF’s XLB really are: These are juicy, deeply flavorful dumplings wrapped so tight they may as well be hermetically sealed. The other plates on the menu shouldn’t be ignored; Din Tai Fung also makes fairly elegant spicy wontons, nicely chewy rice cakes and a surprisingly comforting chicken soup. How can you quibble with all that? —Tien Nguyen