The Sauces of Din Tai Fung

"That soy sauce you bought, it's really good. I only use it to serve with steamed fish; it's too good to use for anything else."

Like most Chinese people of a certain age my Dad isn't one to dole out praise for free. So when he does say something's good, it's good.

I shouldn't be too surprised, though, as the soy sauce was from the Din Tai Fung gift shop at the front of its Taipei 101 restaurant. Yes, that's right, as well as knocking out consistently excellent xiao long bao Din Tai Fung also put their name to literally superior soy sauce.

So what distinguishes Din Tai Fung's soy sauce from the stuff on the supermarket shelf? It's hard to put my finger on it, but in short, there's no crap in it like artificial colourings and preservatives.

While I love Din Tai Fung's soy sauce, I love their XO sauce more. Many people confuse XO sauce with Chiu Chow chilli oil (the one with bits in it). While the latter comprises dried chilli and garlic in oil, XO sauce ramps it up an extra level by throwing dried seafood and Jinhua ham into the mix.

Sadly, though, many versions of XO sauce just add a small amount of dried seafood to chilli oil rather than do it properly. By contrast, Din Tai Fung's version includes dried scallops, dried shrimps, salted fish, pomfret, shrimp roe and real Jinhua ham. The aroma when I opened the jar was something else. Taking a leaf out of my dad's book I've been using this XO sauce sparingly since I don’t want to waste it.

So if you're fortunate enough to visit Din Tai Fung I'd also stock up on some sauces from the gift shop. You won't regret it.