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Din Tai Fung: A tale of a Chinese restaurant’s success against all odds?

Everyone knows there’s only one place to get decent Xiaolongbao, a Chinese delicacy globally. The red logo with white writing, excellent service, the neatly folded bites of soup-filled heaven, and the open kitchen that runs on a balance of philosophy, art, and maths. Hailed by some as the world’s greatest dumplings, Din Tai Fung is the place to be for your share of Shanghainese cuisine.

You will know the anticipation as your mouth is about to receive 3rd-degree burns from breaking through the thin layer of skin shielding the delicious but dangerous soup due to your lack of patience and eagerness. But what you may not know is Din Tai Fung’s unlikely tale of success and the reasons behind it, what has taken the brand from humble beginnings to the most renowned for its dishes in the world.

Origins, development, and economic struggle

Born in 1927 and originally from Shanxi Province, Mr. Yang Bing-Yi (founder of Din Tai Fung) moved to Taiwan following the political and social upheaval of China’s civil war. In Taiwan, he had a successful career in the cooking oil business, Heng Tai Fung, which progressed to the role of keeping their books in order.

The once failing cooking oil shop, expanded to a 300-seat restaurant selling up to 4,000 Xiaolongbao a day.

However, after the business fell on hard times, Mr. Yang Bing-Yi and his now-wife Lai Pen-Mei chose to open their own cooking oil company under the name Din Tai Fung. Sounds familiar? The name of their current company is a direct mix of their previous employers and their own oil supplier.


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