10 February 2010

A Shanghai Homecoming

Din Tai Fung, Shanghai

Immediately noticeable were the welcome smile of the hostess, the cleanliness of the restaurant and the precision by which the staff at Din Tai Fung functioned. And this is a chain restaurant with international locations in Singapore, Australia, China and Los Angeles.

Founded in Taiwan as a steamed dumpling shop, its most popular item remains the pork dumpling inspired by the Shanghai soup dumpling. It was only fitting that if I go to a Taiwanese restaurant in Shanghai, I would have to try the "local" dish. Delicious is a banal description. Authentic is an unchallenged declaration.

Hot bamboo steamers and bowls of noodles on trays held by waiters filed out from the glass windowed kitchen like ants exiting their ant hole. There was a constant flow of orders with no lull in sight.

It is clear that the training of the staff remains a high priority for the brand. Each member walked deliberately with objectives per his or her responsibilities to service the best they could. The uniforms were crisp and clean. Various colors denoted rank from hostess, manager, order-taker, server/clearer and chefs. The efficient computerized ordering system not only kept the ants in line but also delivered the bill in little time.

Din Tai Fung’s website notes that they have turn overs every 40 minutes due to their investment in the electronic ordering system which allows almost no mistakes from the customer to the kitchen. And every menu item is prepared when an order is placed. It also states their 'Service Philosophy" that:

"At Din Tai Fung, we put the customer's needs first. This is both what we aim to deliver and strive to achieve. Our highest expression of service philosophy is to meet customer's expectations before they have even voiced them. "

Imagine a fast food restaurant where you can be served with punctual, efficient and friendly service, and food that is fresh and tasty. This should not be a revolution. This should be standard.


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