Downtown Bellevue has undergone an almost shocking and rather impressive makeover over the past decade. It’s like the city version of Anne Hathaway’s makeover in The Princess Diaries. I say that reluctantly because, as a person who has
shamefully grown up in Bellevue, it has been difficult for me to accept that the once character-less strip mall is now a booming, even trendy culinary destination. However, I am eternally grateful for the wealth of amazing food that is now accessible without having to spend time and gas money schlepping to Seattle from the Eastside. One of my favorite places that has opened up (and certainly one of the trendiest) in Bellevue is Din Tai Fung, an adorable Taiwanese import conveniently located right in Lincoln Square.
The claim to fame for Din Tai Fung is that, in addition to being very reasonably priced, it features incredibly authentic Chinese dumplings, each meticulously hand-crafted, fresh and luscious. Long(ish) waits are inevitable, but they are worth braving for these puppies. But it’s not just the dumplings that will tickle your taste buds; I am also particularly fond of their delicious pork buns. Don’t sue me New Yorkers, but I honestly like these better than the over-hyped Momofuku pork buns. Sorry I’m not sorry. Anyways, these things are fabulous and very reasonably priced. For $4.25, you get two soft, plump steamed pork buns. Personally, one is enough for me, so these are great for splitting with a pal. In fact, this kind of food is really meant to be shared.
For a perfect amount of food between two people, I suggest an order of pork buns, an
order of dumplings, and potentially a veggie side dish to top it off. In terms of dumpling-age, I’ve got to say that I am a big fan of the pork dumplings. I know we’re approaching pork overload (is there such thing?), but they are damn good. I’ve also had the crab and pork ones ($11) and they are lovely, but have a definitively seafood taste to them. If that’s your thang, take it and run with it. If not, you won’t be disappointed with the yummy pork dumplings–especially not for just $9.50. And with 10 dumplings that come with every order, these are the perfect specimens for sharing.
Dumplings and pork buns can more than fill you up, but if you want an added veggie kick, I would highly recommend tossing in a plate of sautéed bok choy. I am passionate about bok choy, since it is such a fantastic superfood and has such excellent flavor when cooked correctly. Din Tai Fung’s bok choy is done really nicely–it’s subtle and crispy and refreshing. It’s a little pricier at $9, but it’s a heaping portion and you are pretty much guaranteed some leftovers. All in all, if you and your eating companion opt for some pork buns, some dumpling fun, and a veggie side, you’re looking at an approximate $11.50 split. Super reasonable for a big, well-rounded Asian comfort food-y meal.