Ever since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and tried a Din Tai Fung (DTF), I’ve wanted one in the Bay Area. Din Tai Fung opened today – Tuesday, May 10th at 11:00 AM PST – and I was there to catch the grand opening.
For a while, the only Din Tai Fung in the United States was in Los Angeles – Arcadia, California to be exact. The that location expanded with another restaurant adjacent to it. Then, to my great surprise and disappointment, Din Tai Fung expanded to Seattle – of all places – and is expanding now to having almost four in the region. And of course, expanding in Los Angeles and Southern California.
Din Tai Fung first announced their first Bay Area location would be at the Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara (next to San Jose), California around last September 2015. Since then, I’ve been periodically contacting the restaurant as to their opening.
I was thinking of dropping by Valley Fair Mall at around 10:00 AM this morning when the mall technically opens, but realized that I should go into work, especially since I had been out two days last week for personal/family reasons. I had read that the restaurant was going to be opening at 11:00 AM, so figured I’d go to work a little early and leave around 10:30 AM to check out the opening, since the mall was less than 10 miles away via highway and local roads. But if I had really wanted to be first in line, I would have had to have gotten there really early, according to the San Jose Mercury News:
“It might sound crazy, but it’s not to people like Taylor Arnicar and Shirley Song. The Sunnyvale couple has been to 10 Din Tai Fung locations around the world, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Seattle and Los Angeles and were excited that the restaurant was opening so close to home. They were so excited that they arrived at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and were the first in line. “We were the only ones here for a while,” Arnicar said, “so we could have gotten a couple of hours more sleep.”
They weren’t alone for too long. As chefs — looking like bunny-suited tech workers in a clean room — were hard at work handmaking dumplings, the line continued to grow. About 30 minutes before the 11 a.m. opening, it had ballooned to about 400 people, all waiting for a taste of Din Tai Fung’s famous xiao long bao dumpling, or XLB, as fans know it.
The restaurant, though, can seat only 120 people at a time. So anyone toward the back was practically guaranteed a wait of a couple of hours. It got so busy that the restaurant closed off the line so it could restock supplies. Insiders say you can expect this kind of lines for the next few weeks at least, if not months.”
I wasn’t too sure who else was going to wait in line and didn’t necessarily want to eat alone. I did see on Facebook someone I know and his wife were planning on getting there early, and did see him chatting and standing next to a friend of mine – which surprised me (they had just met). And later, I did bump into my brother’s friend and her friend as well.
There was definitely a long line an hour afterwards – I dropped by after I ate lunch elsewhere, where you can take a look at this 360 video that I took around noon:
I think I will try to get to the Din Tai Fung on a Saturday or Sunday early morning when the mall opens so I can get in without waiting – or waiting too long. I can’t wait! It’s been a long time coming, but I am glad there is FINALLY a Din Tai Fung in the Bay Area – and I wonder how quickly and how many more restaurants they plan on opening, since I am sure this one will make a boatload of money.