Taipei, Taiwan is home to a lot of foodie favorites and is also recognized for being the birthplace of Din Tai Fung. Din Tai Fung is an internationally acclaimed, Michelin star-awarded eatery that is infamous for their mouthwatering xiao long bao, otherwise known as soup dumplings.
This past summer, I visited one of my best friends in Taipei and I was on a quest for the best xlb in the world’s soup dumpling capital when I ran across Paradise Dynasty. This global restaurant group was serving up some of the prettiest, most Insta-worthy, and most unique soup dumplings I had ever seen and ever eaten in my life.
Despite this hidden gem’s well-dressed clientele and bougie location in the Xinyi District, the plates were generous and the prices were affordable. My dumplings were only 320 NTD or about $10 USD. When the colorful basket arrived, I was greeted with eight different flavors and instructions from my waiter on how to best enjoy my soup dumplings.
This was a divine introduction to what the rest of Paradise Dynasty’s basket had to offer. The skin was not thick but not too thin and there was an ample amount of broth that exploded into my mouth.
Many people know ginseng as one of the many different flavors of tea but it’s actually very revered as a medicinal herb. Fittingly, the taste of this interesting xiao long bao was exceptionally herbal and kind of perplexing.
The Foie Gras
Just two weeks before, my cousin had introduced me to the controversial delicacy known as foie gras so I was very excited to try this interesting combination. The restaurant captivated the full-bodied flavor profile very well. The foie gras xiao long bao was extremely luscious and not even slightly gamey.
I’m typically very skeptical whenever I order anything truffle-related because I can rarely tell that it exists at all. Nevertheless, I was so impressed by this particular soup dumpling. There was just something so rich yet so light but also so earthy about it. The chef definitely didn’t skimp out on the truffle with this one.
To be honest, when the waiter was listing off the different fusions of xiao long bao, my friend and I cringed at the combination of cheese and soup dumplings because Asian cuisine is pretty much devoid of cheese. Even though it felt so wrong, it was oddly very pleasant. As the flavors were melting in my mouth, I was struck with a very strong aroma reminiscent of white cheese.
The Crab Roe
Fun fact, according to my grandmother, discovering fresh roe in a crab that you have selected from the market or at a restaurant is considered very good fortune. At Paradise Dynasty, I was lucky enough that they decided to combine my two favorite foods: soup dumplings and crab roe for a sensational umami mouthful.
As a garlic aficionado, I was absolutely in love with this genius concoction. The flavors were well balanced and the garlic was clearly evident without being too assaulting. This was definitely one of my top favorites and one of those with the more fragrant broths.
Mala is another name for the fiery Sichuan pepper and is usually synonymous with hot pot. Since I have a low tolerance for spicy foods, I was preparing my body for an overwhelming, mouth-numbing experience but luckily that wasn’t the case. There was just the tiniest hint of pepper but not enough to leave me drinking the entire pot of tea.
My meal at Paradise Dynasty was by far one of the best and the most memorable dining experiences I have had during my visit. These whimsical soup dumplings are a great topic of conversation and a fun opportunity for you to play food critic. But are they actually better than Din Tai Fung’s?
While DTF may get a lot more hype, Paradise Dynasty is equally as delicious and I am a major fan of both restaurants. So the next time you’re in Taiwan and you’re in need of a soup dumpling fix, be sure to add Paradise Dynasty to your to-do list right alongside Din Tai Fung.