Restaurant #29: Jin Din Lou 京鼎樓, Taipei
I heard about Jin Din Lou Ebisu branch @ Tokyo with good review, but never heard about Taipei’s headquarter, so I went there to try. Jin Din Lou is a small chain Chinese restaurant, emphasizing steamed dumplings. The owners (brothers) were actually trained at Din Tai Fung before, and then they opened their own dumpling restaurant. So, their signature menu is, of course, steamed dumplings, and other items are similar to Din Tai Fung’s.
京鼎樓 that I went was located near Zhongshan MRT station. I asked my Taiwanese friend to join me. When we arrived at the restaurant, we saw some workers making dumplings lazily. One worker was reading the newspaper on the corner, and a few others were talking over dumplings without a mask. Their hygiene has some problems and it didn’t look great. Inside of the restaurant was alright, but it was not blight enough…
Once I entered the restaurant, a waitress guided us to the basement. The staircase was too steep and very dangerous. Awww… basement didn’t have any windows, and the air was not fresh. There are less than 10 big tables, and ALL customers were Japanese that night. Two waitresses smiled and welcomed us in Japanese. However, once my friend started speaking Chinese, their face literary changed annoyingly, and they took us to the smallest table in the corner.
Their unfriendly service made me uncomfortable, and I was upset to see all the Japanese customers that why they needed to go there and ruin their dinner with such an expensive price. Most of their faces were not happy… I felt that they were trying to enjoy the atmosphere. Oh well, I was one of them, so I can’t complain that much. We ordered 小籠包 (steamed dumpling) (10 pcs) (NT$170), 元盅土雞湯 (chicken soup) (NT$170), and雞肉蛋炒飯 (pork fried rice) (NT$110).
Now, foods were served. We got chicken soup first. Plates, menus, I mean everything reminded me of Din Tai Fung. Do they want us to compare with them? Or they try to beat them with their taste? I tried one, two sip of the soup. For me, it was oily. Chicken was kind of dry and not tender enough, and I didn’t feel it was fresh at all.
Pork Fried Rice
Pork friend rice was served next. It was… too shiny; they might be using animal oil. Egg was a bit overcooked, even though it was tasty. The only thing I didn’t like is that the rice was not tasty. Are they using California rice or what? If they use fresh, Taiwanese rice, I would have liked this item much more.
Their signature item was served, finally, at the end, but it seemed the chef forgot to serve in the beginning. After we complained to the waitress (because we waited for more than 30 minutes!!!) the chef himself served the item, and started arguing with two waitresses in Taiwanese. Oh Geez… I am not sure how many people understood what they were arguing about, but definitely my friend was embarrassed. Dumpling was actually pretty good. I liked it better than Din Tai Fung. Yet the fact that we have been waited for so long and caused the argument, I was not happy.
I brought a Japanese guidebook with 5% discount. I was so embarrassed to do so only for 5% discount. My friend was already unhappy, and he even felled down at the dangerous staircase. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
I really hope that they will improve their service and hygiene, if they charge such a high price. So far, I’d rather go to small local restaurants which offer same items with a half price, or go to Din Tai Fung, similar price but better service.
Total: NT$ 428 (for 2 people, with 5% discount)
京鼎樓: Jin Din Lou
No.47, Changchun Rd. Zhongshan Dist.
Taipei City, TAIWAN