Soup dumpling empires aren’t built in a day, says Din Tai Fung CEO

Illustration for article titled Soup dumpling empires aren’t built in a day, says Din Tai Fung CEO
Photo: Chen Xiaomei/South China Morning Post (Getty Images)
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Did you know that every Din Tai Fung soup dumpling weighs exactly 16 grams and is sealed shut with precisely 18 pinches? That’s just one little factoid among many I’ve learned about the international dumpling purveyor today. ABC News published a look at Din Tai Fung as it’s set to open its largest restaurant to date in Taipei, and its history is fascinating.

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The brand’s current CEO is Yang Ji Hua, whose mother and father (Lai Penmei and Yang Bing Yi) first opened Din Tai Fung in the mid-20th century. The two left mainland China in the late ’40s, around the time of the Chinese Communist Revolution. They opened up Din Tai Fung as a cooking oils shop and delivered oils to restaurants and hotels. According to ABC, as business began to wane, a hotel owner suggested they sell dumplings and pastries, too. So they hired two chefs: one to handle dumplings, another for noodles. By 1972, Din Tai Fung was successful enough for the pair to open a location in the capital city of Taipei. Nearly 50 years later, the soup dumpling emporium is a veritable empire, with 170 locations in 13 countries, including locations in California, Oregon, and Washington. In 1993, food critic Ken Hom named Din Tai Fung one of the top ten restaurants in the world in the New York Times, forever sealing its place in dumpling history (with precisely 18 pinches).

Despite the company’s success, Yang says he focuses on employees’ well-being over the bottom line. Every day at work, according to this report, workers submit a form stating how they’re feeling that day, and managers assign tasks accordingly. Restaurant employee benefits include therapists, “activity trainers,” and “higher than average salaries.” Wow, considering a food service worker as a whole human outside of their existence on the job? Never heard of it.

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Read the whole thing and watch an interview with Yang Ji Hua here. Since I started writing this post, I’ve already made plans to dine at my nearby Din Tai Fung by the end of the week.

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DISCUSSION

gyorkingoffjedd
GyorkingOffJedd

I’ve already made plans to dine at my nearby Din Tai Fung by the end of the week.

Ah, to be a food writer and to be able to get reservations at Din Tai Fung within a week. In San Diego, you pretty much have to be online exactly when they open reservations, 30 days in advance, to get even a decent time.