What’s the best meal Brian Canlis has ever had?
In some ways, the best meal is that hot slice of pizza in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl when the game’s tied. That literally might be the best meal I’ve ever had. But I think the best restaurant experience I had was Din Tai Fung in Shanghai. I was walking in Shanghai with headphones, naturally, and I was kind of lost and I was hungry. I came upon this strip mall — not super fancy looking. I see this sign and it’s this dumpling restaurant, and it looks good. Then outside there’s this framed article from The New York Times, and I’m like, “No way,” and especially in China, you grow skeptical of people calling things “authentic” because around every corner is a new Rolex and a new Louis Vuitton bag that isn’t real.
So I’m thinking this New York Times article is obviously fabricated to bring suckers like me in. But I’m like, “I’m hungry, so I’ll give it a shot.” It was like an otherworldly experience, and the article is real. The article is about the original restaurant that’s in Taiwan and not in Shanghai. But people train for six months just to be able to work on their dumplings — they go to like dumpling boot camp. It’s like becoming a samurai is becoming a chef in this restaurant. That’s got to be my favorite meal I’ve ever had, my first Din Tai Fung experience.