Latest opening: Din Tai Fung Centre Point

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Din Tai Fung Centre Point Taiwanese restaurant in London

Related tags Din Tai Fung Taiwanese cuisine London

The famed xiaolongbao specialist has pulled out all the stops for its third London site.

What:Din Tai Fung’s long-awaited restaurant in London’s Centre Point.​ And it really was a long wait - the Taiwan-founded restaurant brand announced its intention to launch beneath the central London skyscraper in 2017. Centre Point was originally supposed to be Din Tai Fung’s first restaurant on these shores but has been overtaken by Covent Garden (2018) and a site in Selfridges which launched earlier this year.

Who:​ Din Tai Fung was founded by Bing-Yi Yang in 1958 as a shop selling cooking oil in the Taiwanese capital Taipei. A decade or so later half of the shop was given over to making and serving xiaolongbao. The steamed soup dumplings proved so popular that the site became a fully-fledged restaurant a few years later and the rest, as they say, is history. Din Tai Fung now has 170 sites worldwide in locations including Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, South Korea, Thailand and the US. Din Tai Fung’s UK business has been established by Singapore’s BreadTalk Group under a franchise agreement. 

The vibe:​ Din Tai Fung’s Centre Point site has been worth the wait. Previously home to British brasserie Vivi, the 16,000sq ft multi-level space seats 218 and is a major step up from the brand’s previous London outings with plenty of natural light and a very premium finish. As at the other sites, big numbers are the name of the game here - the mic’d up staff are incredibly efficient and the food arrives quickly. 

The food:​ Din Tai Fung offers the same menu as its older London siblings. Din Tai Fung’s famed xiaolongbao are the headline attraction. Over 100 million are sold worldwide across the group and each one is prepared by hand at each site day in, day out. Fillings for xiaolongbao include beef, chicken, mushroom and truffle and the (classic) pork. The rest of the menu is wide-ranging including various other types of dumplings, soups, stir-frys and rice dishes. While the restaurants has is roots in Taiwan, the menu includes a number of classic Chinese dishes including Shanghainese drunken chicken and dan dan noodles. 

And another thing:​ As at the Selfridges site, Din Tai Fung’s Centre Point human team members share the restaurant floor with robots. The white, cat-faced robots bring the plates from the kitchen to various waiting station while the more utilitarian-looking black ones are tasked with returning dirty plates to the kitchen. Customers aren’t intended to interact with the robots, but they can frequently be seen gliding across the main dining room. Robots make a lot of sense in such a large restaurant, saving the staff a lot of walking. The AI powering the robots is impressive too. The units are able to navigate the restaurant quickly and can negotiate obstacles in a surprisingly fluid way. Human front of house staff won't have to watch their backs until someone works out how to make a front of house robot that can manage stairs, though, with the robots unable to access the lower levels of the site. 


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