Over two years after it was first reported restaurant super chain Din Tai Fung would open at Tottenham Court Road’s redeveloped Centre Point, the Taiwanese company will finally do so — taking over Vivi, the short lived retro restaurant managed by contract catering business and white label restaurant operator, Rhubarb.
Propel Hospitality reports that Din Tai Fung, which opened its first restaurant on Henrietta Street in Covent Garden in December last year following a period of almost unprecedented hype for an international restaurant debut in the capital, will open site number two in the new year.
The group, which has over 160 restaurants worldwide and is most famous for its xiaolongbao (pork soup dumplings) and Huaiyang cuisine, will take over the 290-cover space vacated by Vivi in the summer. It is thought the company did eventually pull out of the site it was rumoured to have acquired in autumn 2017, but kept itself in the news throughout 2018: It announced a second restaurant which would become its debut, in Covent Garden. Four months later came an opening date; then the reasons for European expansion, before hubristically “predicting” five-hour queues on opening day.
Those queues remained separated from reality once it actually opened. It has been met with a collection of cold to lukewarm reviews from the critics, while those familiar with its restaurants in Taiwan and America, have suggested it fell short of their excellence in certain aspects, at least in the early days.
Vivi, a restaurant which tried to lean into 1960s nostalgia — with lobster thermidor, duck a l’orange, vol-au-vents, and chicken Kiev — closed in August, after only six months. It blamed low footfall because of ongoing building works at the development.
Since then, Arcade Food Theatre has opened, bringing with a raft of London’s hottest operators, including Tōu by TāTā Eatery, Pophams, and Pastorcito by El Pastor. That too, has been a little slow to realise the hype that came before it.
Everyone associated with the newly redeveloped Centre Point will hope that 2020 is the year when the location really takes off; at the very least, Din Tai Fung will expect to draw a crowd.