Din Tai Fung1

Eating at Din Tai Fung

Before going to Taiwan, my friend prepared a document of recommendations. She wrote: “Soup Dumplings: Din Tai Fung is big in Taiwan, but I say it’s overrated. A soup dumpling is a soup dumpling, and we get great ones stateside.” We went to Din Tai Fung, and I couldn’t disagree more. The hype is well-deserved. This was probably my favorite meal (out of many good meals) in Taiwan. Of course, it wasn’t just about the soup dumplings — which were good. Here are some other things I loved about our meal at Din Tai Fung.
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Chow Making the Chinese American Restaurant at Museum of Food and Drink

My notes from Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant

Went to the Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg last week! It was awesome! The exhibit was called Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant. At nearly every panel I felt a visceral connection. Here are some of the pieces that resonated, and why: In my opinion, this sums up the Chinese mentality, pride, and way of life: “They did what no one else would do.”   More fun times.  
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The Importance of Pre-Meal

On January 13, 2009, we opened our restaurant, Shogun, in Delmar, NY and my father held our first pre-meal inside the kitchen. As the first of the soft-opening customers trickled through the front door, he shared this nugget of instruction: “This is how you pour miso soup.” We were about to open a Japanese restaurant — and we didn’t know how to serve the soup. This is like asking for garlic bread at The Olive Garden and your server saying, “Garlic what?” Case Studies: The Difference Pre-Meal Makes I always thought pre-meal was the best part of a shift. Our pre-meals
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I Get Anxiety Over This Type of E-mail

There’s one type of email that I loathe above all others. Can you guess what it is? I bet it’s not what you’re thinking. I hate ’em. Seriously, I’d rather read hate mail. I’d rather read Tea Party literature hand-curated by Ted Cruz, or ad-copy from AT&T explaining how bundling my cable, phone and Internet could save me $300. The interesting part? About 75% of the time, what’s inside these emails… Is glowing. Overwhelming positive. Even raving.  Yet the anxiety still seizes me like talons around testicles the moment I see the number (1) in the sub-category I keep for these emails, like a raised
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When It Was Time to Stop Working for My Father

Last week, I talked about how to recognize when it’s time to leave your organization. If they’re telling you: “Don’t try new things.” “Toe the line.” “Do what worked before.” Then it’s time to go. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Of course, quitting your job never is. This is the story of quitting my first job after college… working for my father. I worked for my father for about two years, starting in the winter of 2008. It was one of the best learning and life experiences I could ask for. In hindsight, we opened the first restaurant, Shogun
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“You Don’t Know As Much As You Think”

Hopping aboard any digital sharing bandwagon was always a struggle: Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook. Before that: LinkedIn, LiveJournal, MySpace, Xanga. So on. So forth. I didn’t gravitate towards voicing my opinion on pop culture and politics Or what I had for breakfast. Didn’t think this literature was worth the digital space of 1’s and 0’s it took up. I made attempts through the years, but never felt strong doing it. It’s easier, I think, to catch this early wave of social sharing that leads to YouTube sensations and pop-culture-websites-to-book deals when your parents convinced you you’re a unique snowflake whose opinion
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Rebuilding Part 3 – “Assist”

A week after returning to the restaurant, I was offered an assistant position at a literary management company. Which made things tricky: work six days a week, plus my own writing, plus night and weekend reading. It could be done, but did I want to put myself through that? I thought about quitting the restaurant. I remembered my father reminding me over the phone, when I first arrived in Los Angeles, “Look after yourself. That’s enough right now. Just do what’s best for you.” That’s what quitting would have meant: looking out for numero uno, making things easier on myself.
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Rebuilding Part 2 – “Square One”

The first thing I did was go back to the Thai restaurant and ask for my job back. I hunted down the manager, who emerged from the staff room, cash drawer and last night’s receipts in hand, looking frustrated with her day already. I asked if she was looking for help. “Yes,” she snapped. “Who’s asking? You?” she jabbed. “Yes.” “Oh.” She thought a moment. She started to ask a question, then stopped to ask a different one. “When can you start?” I picked up my first shift back a week later. Three days after that, they cut me a
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Tipping (Isn’t a City in China)

Allan soured his face as I explained his duties as the bus driver for today: keep your phone on. Answer the calls. Make sure you’re constantly looping back here from LAX — don’t just stay at the airport. He had this “I-can’t-believe-my-lot-in-life-is-driving-a-bus” expression on his face. The sentiment seeped into his posture, and into his surly one-word responses to my instructions. He maintained that presence the entire day, up till the moment I signed his parents, indicating services rendered, and that he completed his duties. After I shook his hand, he paused, then said, “Handshakes and thank you’s are nice,
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