Din Tai Fung. A Hong Kong institution

We are a complicated family.

Food-wise, that is.

Husband is a carnivore who is allergic to seafood.

Daughter is vegetarian.

I am a piscatarian.

Thank God for our omnivorous son.

So finding a restaurant that suits us all is not always the proverbial piece of cake.

With this in mind, my review of Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay may well seem to be of the “on the one hand…while on the other hand…” variety.

Everyone we spoke to recommended Din Tai Fung with great enthusiasm, and as a dining experience it was fabulous.  Hardly surprising, given that the Causeway Bay branch of this famous chain gained a Michelin star a few years ago.

The original Din Tai Fung started in Taiwan, specialising in xiaolongbao (small steamed buns) and now runs to many restaurants all over the world.

Situated in a nondescript office block in busy Causeway Bay, you cannot make a reservation for this cafeteria-looking place, so you wait outside with crowds of diners. Watching what goes on in the glass-walled kitchen helps pass the time :

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The menu (with photos of the food) is brought to you, as well as an order pad, and you write down the number and quantities of the dishes you want.

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The staff who co-ordinate this waiting and ordering outside the restaurant all speak good English and explain the process and the menu to you.  Our waitress was charming, and came back to tell us that many of the greens that we 2 veggies had ordered were cooked in a meat based stock, so should she order them without sauce for us.  Yes, of course, we said, which was fine for our principles, but – the truth be told – made for pretty dull eating.

We didn’t have to wait too long, and once inside, the staff couldn’t have been nicer, and though the service is brisk and efficient, with the food coming out promptly, I never felt that we were being hurried along.

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So, the food.

The meat-eaters loved their choice, though they both said with hindsight that they would not order the drunken chicken next time :

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Drunken chicken, above, and the trademark xiaolongbao, below.  The pork ones were voted the best.

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We had vegetarian dumplings which were OK, but nothing to write home about, to be honest :

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I found them a tad too large to eat comfortably, which meant the mushroom filling fell out…or perhaps I am just a messy eater and/or inept with chopsticks.

Now for the greens…nice, especially the preserved vegetables (below) which were delicious, but overall nothing but greens was a bit samey and unexciting as our meal.  These greens are plainly meant to accompany, not serve as the main event, which is fair enough.

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So ?

As I said at the outset, it was a case of “on the one hand, but…” in as much as the whole experience was great, and the meat eaters loved their food.  But as a vegetarian, I would have to say, sorry, no.

 

DIN TAI BILL

Lanson Place Hotel, Hong Kong

A friend who is a hotelier recommended Lanson Place in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay for our 4 night family holiday, and so we followed the expert’s advice, and made a brilliant discovery into the bargain.

Not only is Causeway Bay a great part of the city in which to base yourself, but if you are looking for luxury on a human scale, then Lanson Place is the perfect choice.

The decor of the hotel is what I would call modern minimalist, and amidst all the hectic local colour and buzzy energy of Causeway Bay, the cool elegance of the hotel is refreshing.

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We were upgraded to a grand luxe room and both our room and our childrens’ room had welcome baskets and a selection of complimentary drinks in the fridge.

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The rooms are elegant, spacious, have masses of storage space, and  – one of the features of the hotel – they come equipped with well-stocked kitchenettes.

I can well imagine that a long stay business traveler would relish the chance to eat “at home” rather than head out to a restaurant every night, so with with a hob, a microwave, a fridge, and enough local restaurants offering take out services, nothing could be simpler.

Lanson Place does not have a restaurant, and the only meal served is breakfast, which is taken in a lounge-style atmosphere, guests sitting on couches or easy chairs.

Breakfast is served until 11 on weekends (which is when we arrived) so when we ambled down sometime after 10 on Monday morning – no breakfast.  That is until the charming and attentive Carson served us a massive spread, even though our party continued wandering down a full 20 minutes late. Tea, coffee, pastries, fruit, yogurt, refill of tea, refill of coffee, all kept coming, accompanied by delightfully friendly smiles.

This (below) is the lounge area where breakfast is served.  There is a wide array of English and Chinese newspapers available.

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I celebrated a terrifyingly significant birthday in Hong Kong, and the staff at Lanson Place not only gave me a gorgeous chocolate cake and a bottle of bubbly, but a card signed by every member of staff.  Now that was personalized, impressive and touched me enormously. Charming little messages and wishes from everyone in the hotel – thank you to you all.

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Back to the rooms.

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As I said, masses of storage space, a huge TV which (in our grand luxe room) cleverly revolves so it can be watched from the bedroom or the sitting area. There is only one tiny caveat (which seems mean after so much overwhelming kindness) but those glass doors on the bathrooms…slightly disconcerting.

Good efficient service.

A worthy member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Would I stay in Lanson Place again?  Absolutely.

Would I recommend it to friends?  I am doing so, right here…

We paid our own way, and I did not mention the fact that I blog and write reviews.

For rates, I suggest you contact the hotel via their website.