What was supposed to be Din Tai Fung’s first U.K. restaurant, finally opened this weekend, on Saturday 1 October — a cool five years after it was first announced. The xiaolongbao specialist’s Centre Point site, which replaces short-lived retro restaurant Vivi, is the dumpling chain’s third London restaurant, with sister sites in Covent Garden and at the department store Selfridges.
Initially reported to launch in May 2017, Din Tai Fung’s opening was initially delayed due to the redevelopment works at Centre Point, which meant that its first site opened on Henrietta Street at Covent Garden in 2018 instead; then followed the instore venue at Selfridges — part of a late-night dining space, which included the likes of Pizza Pilgrims.
The new site will seat 218, feature an open kitchen, and serve the same famous xiaolongbao — which each undergo a 40-minute process of hand preparation — Huaiyang cuisine; cocktails; salted egg yolk custard lava bun, and other dishes which have made the brand a cult favourite across the world.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Din Tai Fung’s Centre Point restaurant is innovating on front-of-house: it has announced that guests will have their food delivered to them by robots, though it is not yet clear whether the floor is being run exclusively by robots or whether they are there to aid and assist a human team.
Din Tai Fung sells over 100 million xiaolongbao a year worldwide. Robots are one way to overcome the staffing crisis in London.