Jin Din Rou / In its opening weeks, Jin Din Rou is loud, chaotic and crowded. Waitresses persistently interrupt your conversation and insist you eat your xiao long bao now, while they’re hot. Compliance is rewarded as you bite into the thin-skinned dumplings and hot broth pours out. The taste of these dumplings, the chaos in the restaurant: It feels like China. But there’s the Japanese aesthetic, too: the clean lines and bamboo steamers repurposed as lamp shades, the gleaming white open kitchen and at every table, the carefully diagrammed instructions on how to eat xiao long bao. Jin Din Rou is billed as a Taiwanese eatery (by a Japanese chain), and though the food isn’t exactly Taiwanese, or Chinese, or Japanese, but is influenced by all these cuisines–manifested in a deeply flavored tan tan noodle or an expertly fried and glazed sweet-and-sour pork. Perhaps in this way, the food is Taiwanese, reflecting the refined and cosmopolitan cuisine of Taiwan. Currently, the menu is very limited and the restaurant only open for lunch, but Feb. 20 will bring a full menu and dinner service (until midnight Monday to Saturday). While I wait for that date, I’ll return frequently to slurp the best xiao long bao on the island.
1491 S. King St., 947-1133