5 votes

The great LA dumpling drama


  1. Akir
    It's kind of weird to read an article in Eater that isn't actually about food or restaurants. For those outside of the loop here, Din Tai Fung is a certified BFD: a Big Fudging Deal. It doesn't...

    It's kind of weird to read an article in Eater that isn't actually about food or restaurants.

    For those outside of the loop here, Din Tai Fung is a certified BFD: a Big Fudging Deal. It doesn't really matter where you are in the world; if you ask who has the best xiao long bao you will not be refered to a small upscale shop operated by a master chef who has been making them for the last 70 years. No, they'll tell you to go to Din Tai Fung. I've recommended people who are not familiar with this type of cuisine try it out at my recommendation and it is now one of their favorite restaurants. And so you can see why it's so popular and desirable.

    I just realized that my diet will basically forbid me from eating those xaio long bao again and I'm having a crisis.

    I think this is a nice read, so if you're reading this before you read the article don't let me stop you, but was rather annoyed at Eater's typical LA-centric perspective that treats Glendale like it's practically the sticks when it's literally 5 miles away from downtown LA. While in the meanwhile the megalopolis also called LA stretches for miles to the east and south, spilling out into neighboring counties. I don't know if it's just the way media tends to write or if it's the general consensus, but people who live on the west side of the LA river don't seem to think about much that happens on the other side.

    And like most LA-centric publications the narrative has a quality that I wouldn't quite describe as elitism so much as it is a sense of entitlement. The lesson the author comes away with is that the Galleria Mall is just as worthy of their time as the Americana Mall. Because the Americana Mall is newer, more expensive, and more fashionable in it's design. But of course they park at the Galleria anyways because while they deserve to go to the nicer place they don't feel they need to pay the parking fee. The "battle" for this location is also kind of banal since Din Tai Fung has a number of other locations. The only California locations not in the LA area are in San Diego and Santa Clara, which are also megalopoli in their own respect (with Santa Clara being part of the San Francisco Bay Area).

    Even so, I really appreciate that the lesson the author presents is a rejection of the mindset that newer is better. Personally, I hate the whole outdoor mall concept. Even developers tend to hate them; they tend to use euphimisms like "town squares" or "integrated shopping districts". The Americana certainly looks like a nice, high end property, but it's full of modern folly. The entire outdoor shopping mall concept is nearly the antithesis of what defines a mall - bringing in tons of small stores under one roof. They forget that the point of doing all of this is convenience, so stores are all very far apart from one another. They usually aren't terribly accessable by public transport and even if you drive there parking is usually even further away from the places you are likely to want to go. And because it's outdoors, weather plays a big role as to weather anyone will want to visit. Climate change means that LA's famously moderate weather is now uncomfortably hot during summer, and the cool seasons are interjected with long periods of rain.

    There are too many malls in the LA area for any one person to visit them all, but I've been to most of the major ones. You've probably heard that malls are dying, but that's not really 100% true; malls are changing. Malls aren't entirely there for clothes and accessories anymore, and they're not even entirely built around retail either. They are places to shop, yes, but they are now places to sit and enjoy a fancy meal, they are places to go see shows, do activities, see pop-up showcases, relax while enjoying boba tea with friends, drop off kids at jungle gyms to play, or just go and see the occasional "experience" exhibition.

    If you want to know what the best mall in LA is, it's The Shops at Santa Anita. It's got all of the things I mentioned and then even more. It's got a full movie theater, a bowling alley with an arcade, a selection of unique restaurants, and a selection of specialty stores that sell things that are really hard to get anywhere else (It's got a Kinokuniya with a dedicated Gundam section! It's got a Chinese gift megastore where you can buy expensive craft teas!). It even has an outdoors segment so if you want to catch the sun while you shop or eat, you can. And yes, it's even got Din Tai Fung.

    Now if you enjoyed reading my novel, here's how you can support me on Patreon....

    4 votes
  2. AugustusFerdinand

    Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung is at the center of an all-out tug-of-war between two of LA’s biggest malls, but the fight says something even bigger about the future of the mall itsel.

    2 votes