A Taiwanese soup dumpling specialist that induced long lines when it opened in California gets ready to set up shop on the Las Vegas Strip. Din Tai Fung with its xiao long bao takes over the former Aria Cafe space in mid- to late-2020.
The restaurant plans to feature an open kitchen, where customers can watch chefs make the soup dumplings, once described by the late Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold as “small miracles.” Other dishes among the 100 on the menu include shao pot stickers, noodle soups, fried Shanghai-style crispy fried pork chops served on a bed of fried rice, wontons with shrimp and pork, pork buns, and noodles with minced pork sauce, spicy sesame, and peanut sauce.
But the star of the show is the Shanghai-style soup dumplings xiao long bao with a delicate skin encasing the broth, folded 18 times. The best sellers feature Kurobuta pork in a broth made with fresh ginger and green onion.
In Los Angeles locations, diners wait in line to give their cell phone numbers to the restaurant to wait for a table. Gold describes the process as taking another 90 minutes of waiting time before being texted to return and wait again in person for a table. The original California restaurant in Arcadia opened in 2000, and there diners fill out an order form in advance.
That Arcadia location opened in 2000, and now Din Tai Fung, founded in Taiwan in 1958, has more than 170 restaurants in 13 countries, including eight locations in California and five in the Pacific Northwest.
Aria Cafe opened in 2010 as an elevated casino coffee shop with a large menu of casual American dishes partially lit by a huge wall of floor-to-ceiling windows facing the resort’s taxi stand and neighboring Vdara resort. Once open 24 hours, the cafe now only serves customers from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In 2018, Restaurant Business ranked it 51st on its list of the 100 biggest independent restaurants in America, doing an average of $16,700,000 in estimated sales, with an average check of $27, and an estimated 690,000 covers. Aria Cafe closes in February 2020.
• All Coverage of Aria Cafe [ELV]
• All Coming Attractions [ELV]