Din Tai Fung, Melbourne

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Din Tai Fung, Melbourne.

With seven outlets up their sleeves, Sydneysiders could be forgiven for being a little blasé about the opening of yet another link in the Din Tai Fung dumpling chain. Not so much for Melburnians, who greeted the arrival of their first - and Australia's largest - member of the family with impressive queues from early on day one. It's a big space, taking up one corner of the Emporium shopping centre's fourth floor with three private rooms and seats for more than 230 people, attended to by a fleet of enthusiastic if not always completely effective waitstaff. Once the dumplings start to arrive, however, all else fades into insignificance. The xiao long bao here, weighed and made with a scientific level of care and scrutiny (each weighing between 20.8 and 21.2 grams), are superb members of the species, the pastry sturdy enough to resist tearing but silken in the mouth, the broth and filling both big flavoured and restorative. Spicy prawn and pork wontons, shao mai, topped with a layer of prawn meat and a rather smart limite-edition truffle dumpling, are similarly worthy of a cult following, while non-dumpling dishes such as wok-fried green beans with spicy pork mince steal a little of the limelight for themselves. There's craft beer and Victorian wine, too. Melbourne might be late to the Din Tai Fung party, but it sure is sweet to have finally been invited.

Din Tai Fung, level 4, Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9654 1876

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