My favorite part of each semester is going on a new adventure. The best kind of adventure, for me at least, is discovering an awesome, trendy food spot. The cuisine, the ambiance, and the flavors always take me on a new adventure. My latest adventure proved that Din Tai Fung is the place to be.

When I’m back home in Chicago, I'm constantly asked, “How far is your school from Los Angeles?” My response: “About 30 miles east of L.A.” It may seem super close, and it is geographically, but definitely not in terms of how fast you can get there. In actuality, getting to L.A. can take almost three hours due to traffic. It seems so easy; it’s just a straight shot on the 10. But in reality, it’s a bumper-to-bumper nightmare.

I am here to tell you that going into L.A. is NOT the only way to leave campus for an adventure. Pasadena is an excellent choice with a great selection of restaurants to choose from. It is super easy to get there and you won't hit L.A. traffic. My recommendation: Din Tai Fung.

chicken, mushroom, basil, pasta, cashew, spinach
Ariel Leavitt

At Din Tai Fung, I was introduced to a new cuisine – Taiwanese. It may have taken my friend and I a half hour to get there, but our taste buds were quite fulfilled.

meringue, sweet, cake, pastry
Ariel Leavitt

A dumpling at Din Tai Fung is quite the delicacy. The soft doughy dumpling resting on the spoon carries a juicy flavor inside. I was not expecting such a powerful flavor, but it was an awesome surprise. Even vegetarians will be pleased; aside from their pork, chicken, and sticky rice options, Din Tai Fung has a veggie dumpling too.

The flavors in each dish are remarkable. We started with the garlic green beans with fresh grated ginger on the side. The Shanghai rice cakes are amazing – the best combination of soft texture and flavor.

#SpoonTip: Don't forget to dip the dumplings in chili oil, vinegar or soy sauce!

I could go on for hours just about the Taro dumplings. Taro is a root vegetable and satisfies your dessert cravings. My review: this place is pretty spectacular. Next time I go, I will definitely be trying the soup dumplings!

Ariel Leavitt